"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Backs Against the Wall

The Yankees need another big game from CC Sabathia to avoid embarrassment of an ALCS sweep. (Photo: AP)

If the Yankees had brought tonight’s starting lineup on the road in Spring Training, the other team might have complained to the commissioner. It wasn’t March and the Tigers weren’t complaining.  With the season hanging in the balance, the Yankees were playing a pivotal postseason game against the best pitcher in baseball with a batting order no one could have imagined even one week ago.

It probably didn’t matter whom the Yankees sent to the plate against Justin Verlander, who, despite struggling with his command in the middle innings, limited the Bronx Bombers to two hits, both by Ichiro, over the first eight innings. Any other time, the potent Yankees offense would have made the Cy Young pay for falling behind in the count, but not this postseason.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Phil Hughes couldn’t match zeroes with Verlander. In fact, he didn’t even make it out of the fourth inning. After allowing a solo homer to Delmon Young in the top of the frame, Hughes pulled up lame with a sore lower back and then departed. Over the next six innings, the bullpen did its best to keep the game close, but a double by Miguel Cabrera in the fifth, which perhaps should have been caught by Curtis Granderson, increased the Tigers lead to 2-0. It might as well have been 20-0.

The ninth inning began with all the inspiration of a trip to the gallows. Then, Eduardo Nunez had what Verlander called one of the best at bats he had ever seen. After fouling off six pitches, including a slider, fastball, and change-up, Derek Jeter’s replacement did his best impression of the Captain, golfing a curveball over the left field fence. Maybe a reprieve was in the offing?

Brett Gardner followed Nunez’ battle with one of his own, but after eight pitches, the speedster grounded back to the mound. Although he didn’t reach base, Gardner’s at bat sent Verlander to the dugout and gave the Yankees two chances to tie the game off Phil Coke. They almost made the most of it.

Ichiro greeted Coke with a ground out, but then Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano singled, the latter breaking his nightmarish 0-29 slide in the postseason, setting the stage for Raul Ibanez. Could he do it again? Should he have even been given the chance?

In the regular season, Ibanez hit an abysmal .197/.246/.246 against southpaws, so, once again, under normal conditions, Girardi probably would have used a pinch hitter. However, nothing has been normal this October. Despite having Alex Rodriguez on the bench, Girardi eschewed the opportunity to use one of the league’s best hitters against lefties, something he had done in the ALDS as well. So, while the Tigers pitching coach went over Ibanez’ scouting report with Coke, Arod made no movement toward the bat rack. In fact, he didn’t even take off his sweatshirt. Undoubtedly, a soap opera to be continued, but at the moment, the Yankees had a bigger drama to attend.

Ibanez battled Coke to a full count, but what little life the Yankees had left was dashed by a curve ball down in the zone. The DH had a good swing, but came up empty, just like most of his teammates have for the entire postseason. A victory could have turned the series on its head, but instead, the Yankees find themselves on the precipice of a series sweep. Every Yankee fan knows only one baseball team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in a best of seven series. Can the 2012 Bronx Bombers make it two? Before even beginning to consider that possibility, let’s see the Yankees score a run.

Categories:  1: Featured  Game Recap

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1 thelarmis   ~  Oct 17, 2012 12:31 am

go national league!

: (

2 yankintexas   ~  Oct 17, 2012 12:47 am

I suspect whomever comes out of the NL will make short work of Detroit.

3 Boatzilla   ~  Oct 17, 2012 5:16 am

We are going to win tomorrow, but I really want to see A-Rod in the line-up. Chavez is not the answer, and I can't believe the management (including Cashman believes so).

Does anyone think they are pissed about the flirting incident? I mean Cashman as no moral position at all. I suppose G.I. Joe does, but without Mo, the team's moral compass certainly points in a more socially liberal direction.

And where is the Captain? Playing or not, I expected some kind of statement or appearance or even a press release by now. Why the silence? He should be in the dugout on crutches.

4 The Hawk   ~  Oct 17, 2012 6:55 am

Not pinch hitting A Rod for Ibanez appears to be a sign of dysfunction. Just seems weird to me.

5 Ben   ~  Oct 17, 2012 7:03 am

Yeah, where is Jeter? I haven't been looking closely. Is he inthe dugout these last two games? Weird.

6 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 17, 2012 7:12 am

[4][5] Agree with both of youse. Dysfunction for certain. CC needs to bring it tomorrow and tell everyone to chill the eff out and get some good ABs. Otherwise it's broom-ulation time.

7 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 17, 2012 7:20 am

[3] Leave it to A-Rod to get caught doing what every single pro-athlete (except Mo!) as done many, many times.

8 ms october   ~  Oct 17, 2012 7:45 am

jeter was visiting an ankle specialist in north carloina on tuesday.
and i doubt he flies to detroit tonight. you want to limit flying when you have broken bones and possibly ligament damage.

anyway, it is still really hard to believe that the yankees offense is so bad right now. it's also impressive that the pitching continues to be solid or better.
just a weird way to be going out.

9 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 17, 2012 8:42 am

There have been many postseasons where I would have killed to see the Yankees pitch as well as they have this postseason.

I still maintain that the offense (outside of the 9th inning) has GOT to wake up. Why not tonight?

10 rbj   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:20 am

Blergh. Once the Cap'n went down, I figured it was over. Hell, once Mo went down I wrote off the season, so I'm not going to sweat anything. Off to a conference for the next couple of days, so won't be able to participate in the wake. (Yes, I'm that pessimistic.)

And, while Andy is still on the active roster, basically at this point we've got to consider a post-Jeter/Mo/Andy team. So the next generation is Cano, Gardner and ? Hughes? Joba?

11 monkeypants   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:32 am

[8] Right, I think they mentioned last night on the Sutcliffe feed that Jeter would not be joining the team.

12 knuckles   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:32 am

Cano is frustrating me more than anyone right now. The single in the 9th was nice, but is it the beginning of some more good stuff, or a minor step from 0-22 to 1-23?

He's so streaky, and I can't decide whether it's avoidable or just something you have to accept when you sign up for his annual .300/30/100 seasons. I can't remember another Yankee whose colds were so ice-cold and whose hots were such infernos.

Maybe Soriano? Though he was never as good a pure hitter, and his postseason flailings were probably due to running into quality pitching night after night.

13 monkeypants   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:40 am

[4] If A-Rod was pouting, maybe the team does try to unload him, but I seriously doubt it. I wonder Girardi basically told A-Rod that he wasn't going to play unless he was the last one off the bench?

Anyway, some housecleaning is coming---fair or not---that's for sure. Swisher is gone (the Yankees will lowball him and let him take a 4-year deal from someone else), Kevin Long may be gone. It's a tossup when it comes to Granderson.

But what does the FA marget look like?

14 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:58 am

Nice line tucked into Craig Robinson's analysis of the playoffs over at Flip Flop Fly Ball. On the subject of rally towels: "They remind me of seagulls at a garbage dump."

15 Greg G   ~  Oct 17, 2012 10:07 am

This lineup was looking like the 2nd string. Thanks for the recap William!

But I think the replacements had a better showing then many expected. Nunez had no errors and gave the Yanks a chance after his 9th inning at bat. Gardner, who only has a handful of at bats on the year, made Verlander work in a couple of his at bats and made a nice play in the field. (Swish would likely have seen 1/3 of the pitches Gardner saw and have the same end result).

Chavez had the error, but also made solid contact, but the balls still aren't dropping in for him.

You can't expect to have Ibanez catch lightning in a bottle every time out. I too was expecting to see ARod pinch hitting, but can't say I fault Joe for going with the hot hand despite Ibanez woeful season against left-handers.

Let's win 4 in a row! Whose with me?

16 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Oct 17, 2012 11:57 am

So: Lineup changes to face Scherzer? Ordinarily last night's performance would scream for a change. But last night was the change.

Granderson and Cano have have decent historic records against Scherzer. Gardner, Swisher, A-Rod not so much. Among a bunch of small sample sizes, Chavez's is the smallest - only three trips - but Scherzer's never retired him. Raul a walk in three ABs. Nuney's never seen him.

Gotta tell you I felt good seeing Gardner and Ichiro back to back. The combo didn't produce, but I liked Gardner's approach, and they still bring the potential for a ground game I think the team needs.

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