In the Bergen Record today, Bob Klapisch wonders whether the 2011 Yankees lacked a "killer instinct." As Klapisch points out, the Yankees were just 4-49 when losing after seven innings, and 2-50 when trailing after eight. But Yankees blog It's About the Money, Stupid, went ahead and looked at the Yankees' record when trailing after seven innings in each season since 1995, and the findings don't necessarily show that their record when down after seven is related to how far they advance in the playoffs.
Since 1995, they lost in the ALDS after three of their four best seasons when trailing after seven. In two of their three worst such seasons, they reached the World Series, winning it in 2000 when they went 5-64 when losing after seven. A couple things worth pointing out: This is simply one of many ways of looking at a baseball season, and you're not going to find just one statistic that explains why the Yankees aren't still playing. And really, none of this changes the fact that the 2011 Yankees didn't come back very often late in ballgames, particularly when compared to the 2009 title team that developed a reputation for walk-off wins.
And then there's this: The key moment of a ballgame — the one where that "killer instinct" is most needed — doesn't always come after the seventh inning. If, for instance, Nick Swisher could have mustered just a single in the seventh inning of Game Five against the Tigers, we might be writing about the Yankees–Rangers ALCS right now, instead of looking back, once again, at how the season ended.