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Yankees' Nick Swisher fails to come through in the clutch

Up with the bases loaded and a chance to send New York to the World Series, he worked a full count. Then he flew out, continuing his postseason slump.

October 23, 2009|Kevin Baxter

About 40 minutes after the final out of Thursday's American League Championship Game at Angel Stadium, a pair of stadium workers rolled 12 cases of Korbel champagne past the visitor's clubhouse and into a waiting elevator.

A few yards away, inside that same clubhouse, outfielder Nick Swisher looked as if he could have used a drink. Or a hug.

That champagne, along with an ice chest full of beer cooling in a corridor, was meant for a Yankees' victory celebration. But when Swisher popped up with the bases loaded to end the game, the celebration was put on hold and the Yankees packed their alcohol and headed home.

"I really don't know what I'm thinking right now," Swisher said. "Just try to forget about it as quick as I can. It's frustrating."

Mired in a horrendous slump and batting .107 entering the ninth inning of his team's eighth playoff game, Swisher had a chance to make all that disappear with one swing. Bases loaded, two outs, full count and a World Series berth hanging in the balance.

It's the kind of situation of which every kid dreams. Only in his childhood dreams, the young Nick Swisher always got a hit.

But not in reality, where his final out saw the Angels escape with a thrilling 7-6 win that sends the ALCS back to New York with the Yankees leading, 3-2.

"It's the biggest stage right there," Swisher said. "You want to come clutch. Obviously a big hit right there erases a lot of things.

"You want to be the guy that comes through in that situation for your teammates. And it just didn't happen."

Swisher wasn't the only one who failed to seize an opportunity though. After the Yankees rallied from a 4-0 deficit to lead 6-4 in the seventh, reliever Phil Hughes gave up a walk and two singles to give the lead away.

"We were down, we went ahead," Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera whispered in Spanish. "It was a good game."

And it wasn't over until the final out, which came after the Yankees loaded the bases in the ninth without the benefit of a hit.

"Unbelievable," said Yankees reserve Jerry Hairston. "It's definitely draining. And I'm not even playing."

Asked about his emotions, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was tight-lipped.

"There's a lot of them, I can tell you that," he said. "Any time you have a chance to close out a series and you don't win, no matter what the score is, it's a missed opportunity."

For his part, Swisher is hoping he gets another one.

"It was fun being up in that situation. But it's not fun if you don't come through," he said. "If I get up in that situation again, I'll be ready."

--

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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