ARLINGTON, Texas - Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was standing just outside the visitors' clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark, the season having just ended only minutes earlier. A group of reporters was clustered around Cashman and one of them asked him if he was surprised at how the AL Championship Series had gone.
"That they whacked us like that?" Cashman said. "Yeah. It's surprising."
It was. The Yankees didn't just lose to the Rangers in the ALCS, didn't just get beat one step short of another World Series. They got pounded. Got whipped. Got pretty much run over by a team that most people had as a pretty decent underdog before Game 1.
And why not? The Yankees were supposed to have better pitchers. Supposed to have a deeper lineup. Supposed to have a better bullpen. Supposed to have more experience. The Yankees had won 27 championship in franchise history, the last one coming a year ago. The Rangers had won one -- one -- postseason series ever and that was their last one, this year's division series against the Rays.
"It doesn't make a difference," Derek Jeter said after it was Rangers 6, Yankees 1, and the Yankees were going home for winter. "We didn't have the better team. They beat us. ... They hit better than us, they pitched better than us, they played better than us."
The Yankees, with a lineup that scored the most runs in the league this season, hit .201 during the six games of the series and scored 19 total runs. They struck out 52 times.
The Rangers, on the other hand, hit .304, scored 38 runs and hit nine home runs to the Yankees' six. If it hadn't been for that five-run rally in the first game of the series the Yankees would have been swept.
"We never seemed to get on track offensively in this series," manager Joe Girardi said. "We didn't accomplish what we set out and, as I told my guys, this hurts. It's not a lot of un watching other teams celebrate."
It wasn't just the hitting. Everyone knew the Rangers had Cliff Lee as their ace, but since Lee won Game 5 in the first round he was only available once in the first six games of the ALCS. That he won (and absolutely dominated) Game 3 at Yankee Stadium wasn't much of a surprise; how the Yankees looked against the Rangers' other starters, however, was an absolute shock.
C.J. Wilson held down the Yankees in Game 1, setting a tone for the series even though the Yankees would rally off the Texas bullpen. The Rangers relievers settled in after that, though, and the star of the Texas staff would be No. 3 starter Colby Lewis, who beat the Yankees in Game 2 and then again on Friday night.
In some ways, that was as indicative of the Yankees offensive struggles as anything else: Lewis, who was pitching in Japan for two seasons before coming back to Texas this season, stifled the Yankees. He faced the minimum through four innings in Game 6 and allowed just three hits and one run over eight innings before turning the ninth over to closer Neftali Feliz.
"He was outstanding," Girardi said. "He threw offspeed when he had to, behind in the count when he had to and put hitters away. He did everything that's necessary to win a ballgame."
The Yankees didn't. Not on Friday and not for most of this series, watching their hopes for a repeat get crushed under the Rangers' dogpile on the mound after Feliz got the final out.
There are plenty of issues for the Yankees to deal with this winter, starting with new deals for Girardi and Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, if he chooses not to retire for one more year. Then there are the big-name free agents, like Lee, for whom the Yankees will have stiff competition.
First, though, there will be a little while for the sting to wear off. The hurt. The Yankees weren't just beaten in this series; they were dominated.
"I don't know how you measure, quantitate any of it," Girardi said. "It all stinks."