By Steve Keating
DETROIT (Reuters) - The New York Yankees headed home after being mauled by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, swept from the American League Championship Series in four games.
After leading the American League in wins and setting a team record for homers, the Yankees could not do much of either against the Tigers, who are on their way back to the World Series for the first time in six years where they will face either the St. Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants.
"It is extremely difficult," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters after the Tigers won Game Four 8-1 on Thursday. "You work a long time to get to this point every year and to have it end abruptly it is really, really difficult.
"We didn't swing the bats. It wasn't one guy, it wasn't two guys, it was a bunch of guys and it's hard to win when you don't score runs."
The Yankees, who scored just six runs in four ALCS games with four of those coming in Game One, were swept from a post-season series for the first time since the 1980 ALCS by the Kansas City Royals.
Part of the reason for the Yankees lack of hitting can be traced to a Tigers starting rotation that combined for a miniscule 1.02 ERA in the ALCS, giving up just two earned runs in four games.
"One thing I know is I'm getting effort from the guys," said Girardi. "We come to work every day to win and it hurts when you don't win. There's no doubt about it.
"Obviously life goes on but sometimes as a manager you have to make tough calls. Sometimes the calls are simple to make and you live with them and you move on."
Certainly the most scrutinised and debated call made by the Yankees skipper was his decision to bench struggling All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez three times during the post-season.
Rodriguez, Major League Baseball's highest-paid player with earnings this season of $29 million, stands fifth on the home run list with 647 but went 3-for-25 without an extra-base hit or RBI in the playoffs.
Already under fire for his lack of production, Rodriguez drew the wrath of Yankees fans after local media reported he flirted with two female spectators during Game One of the ALCS, while he has also been the subject of media speculation into a possible trade to the Miami Marlins.
Rodriguez pinch-hit in Game Four on Thursday but again went hitless, but Girardi refused to be drawn on singling him out.
"The one thing I don't want to focus on is Alex, because it wasn't just him that didn't hit," said Girardi.
"If the other guys hit, one guy's struggles aren't going to show as much but when you have so many guys struggling and you're Alex Rodriguez, he is going to be the one that people talk about the most.
"But there are a lot of guys mightily struggling. Not just a little bit, a lot."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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