Frequent readers of this blog know that I’ve been critical, at times, of Alex Rodriguez. Without going into the details on those, to be fair, I thought I would take a second to highlight how important A-Rod was to the Yankees during the post-season of 2009.
First, look at the ALDS series against the Twins.
In Game 1, the Yankees were just ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the 5th inning. A-Rod comes to the plate in that frame with two outs, and Jeter on second, and drives him in for a huge cushion run. This also extended the inning – remember, there were two outs – allowing Matsui to bat, and homer, and give the Yankees a 6-2 lead. (New York would go on to win this game by a score of 7-2.)
In Game 2, the Yankees were losing by a score of 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning. Joe Nathan, the Twins closer, is on the mound. Teixeira leads off with a single bringing A-Rod to the plate. Bam! Rodriguez homers to tie the game and save the Yankees from the jaws of defeat. (Yanks won the game in extras on a Tex walk-off homer.)
In Game 3, the Yankees were again losing late – this time by a 1-0 score in the top of the 7th inning. A-Rod bats with one out and – Bam! – another homerun tying the score and once again saving the game for New York. (The Yankees go on to win this game and take the ALDS.)
Next, look at the ALCS against the Angels.
In Game 2, the Yankees were losing 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th inning. The Angels closer, Brian Fuentes, was on the mound. A-Rod leads off that frame for the Yankees and – Bam! – he does it again! Another life-saving homerun for Yankees off the bat of Alex Rodriguez. That’s three for A-Rod in the span of five games. (New York would go on to take this game in thirteen – and assume a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.)
In Game 4, the Yankees pounded the Angels by a score of 10-1. A-Rod leads the way for the Yankees going three for four (including a double and homer) with three runs scored and two RBI.
In Game 6, the Yankees were losing 1-0, in the bottom of the 4th inning. After Damon singles in two runs to give the Yankees a one run lead, A-Rod comes to the plate with the bases loaded and walks – giving New York a two run cushion. As the Angels would later score another run in the game, it turns out that A-Rod’s 4th inning RBI was the difference maker in this win that puts the Yankees back into the World Series.
Lastly, look at the World Series against the Phillies.
In Game 3, the Yankees were losing 3-0 in the top of the 4th inning. A-Rod homers in that frame with Teixeira on first to cut the Phillies lead to just one run. This is now six homeruns for Rodriguez in his first twelve games of this post-season. That rattled Phils’ starter Cole Hamels and he was out of the game in the next inning. New York ends up winning this game, 8-5.
In Game 4, the Yankees and Phillies were tied, 4-4 in the top of the 9th inning. If the Yankees lose this game, then the series is tied at two games each. A win puts New York in the driver’s seat. Damon reaches with two outs and then steals second and third on the same pitch (when the Phils forget to cover third base). Teixeira is hit by a pitch bringing A-Rod to the plate and – Bam! – he does it again in the late innings! This time it’s a double off A-Rod’s booming bat, scoring Damon and Teixeira. Alex would then score on a Posada single and the Yankees ice this game. New York now only needs one win in three tries to take the ring. (And, they would end up taking it all two games later.)
After the post-season, the BBWAA gave Alex Rodriguez the Babe Ruth Award for being the MVP of the entire postseason. And, it made perfect sense – since A-Rod super-changed power bat led the Yankees to eight of the eleven wins needed in the post-season to get a ring. There’s no doubt in my mind that, without Alex Rodriguez swinging the bat the way he did during the post-season of 2009, there’s no way the Yankees would have achieved all the success that they did in the ALDS, ALCS and World Series.