New York Yankee fans have a laundry list of poor player performances to mull over that occurred during the disastrous American League Championship Series sweep versus the Detroit Tigers. Among the worst was the wretched pitching of ace CC Sabathia in the final game, but by then the horse had left the barn.
But I have settled on their lack of success against former Yankees reliever Phil Coke as the one aspect of this calamity as the one that is the most embarrassing.
I remember Coke as a Yankee, breaking in and seemingly being the left-handed answer in the bullpen. Coke had a sparkling earned run average of 0.61 in 12 games in 2008, a year the Bronx Bombers failed to qualify for the playoffs. The bloom came off his rose in a huge manner the next season as his earned run average ballooned to 4.50 in 60 innings of work. Coke managed to walk 20, give up an earned run every two innings, and amazingly allow 10 home runs to opposing batters as a reliever.
After pitching reasonably well in the first two playoff rounds that campaign, Coke was crushed by the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. The lefty-throwing Coke gave up a pair of home runs to left-handed batters Chase Utley and current Yankees hero Raul Ibanez. He had the ridiculous ERA of 27.00 in two appearances and when the offseason came about, I was glad to see him included in the trade that brought Curtis Granderson to New York.
Fast forward to the present, a day after the sweep. That same Phil Coke, who the Tigers tried to make a starter with laughable results, was on the mound at the finish of three ALCS contests. Coke did not give up a single earned run and he was responsible for saving two games. Raul Ibanez, who homered off Coke three years earlier in a Series tilt, struck out to end Game 3 against Coke -- an irony not lost on this fan. Coke was able to step in, despite an earned run average during the regular season of 4.00, and shut the Yanks down cold. He gave up 71 hits in his 54 innings pitched this year, but New York batters could knock just three hits off of Coke in nearly six innings of work.
I am willing to bet anything that whoever wins the National league pennant will have much more success against Coke. But even if that does pan out, he can always say he got the best of his former team when it meant the absolute most.
I have been a fan of the New York Yankees since the middle of the 1960s.
- Sports & Recreation
- Phil Coke