Ranking the blame for the Yankees’ loss

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Here’s a fun fact: the only one of the Yankees’ five highest-paid players to actually have a successful ALDS against the Tigers was A.J. Burnett.

But who is the most to blame for the series loss?  Let’s go in reverse order.

5. Joe Girardi – I don’t think he’s the main culprit here, though he could have employed a quicker hook with a struggling CC Sabathia in Game 3. One can also argue that he should have been more aggressive in using his best relievers — Mariano Rivera and David Robertson combined to pitch 3 1/3 innings in five games — but as well as the other relievers did, it probably wouldn’t have mattered much. Pinch-hitting Eric Chavez for Brett Gardner in Game 2 was his one bizarre move, and that one definitely didn’t work.

4. Derek Jeter – The Captain hit .250 with just one extra-base hit and an 8/1 K/BB ratio in the series. In the seventh inning or later, he was 2-for-9 with no RBI and five strikeouts. He also made an error that helped lead to two runs in the 5-3 loss in Game 2.

3. Alex Rodriguez – A-Rod managed just two singles in 18 at-bats in the series, though he did drive in three runs and walk four times. Thursday’s performance was his worst: he fanned in three of his five plate appearances, including in the game-ending at-bat against Jose Valverde.

2. Mark Teixeira – Girardi should have moved A-Rod out of the cleanup spot earlier in the series, but the likely replacement, Teixeira, may not have been any better. Teixeira finished the series 3-for-18. He did double and drive in a run with a bases-loaded walk tonight, but he failed to collect an RBI in the first four games.

1. CC Sabathia – Six runs in 8 2/3 innings for the Yankees’ ace. Things may turned out a whole lot differently if not for the Game 1 suspension (he came back on two days’ rest to start Monday and then two days’ rest in his Game 5 relief appearance), but Sabathia’s struggles are the biggest reason the Yankees didn’t advance. If he could have allowed two or three runs over six innings Monday, the Bombers probably would have won that game (the Tigers prevailed 5-4), and making the first relief appearance of his career, he gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings in the 3-2 loss tonight.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.