The postseason without Derek Jeter began today and the results were very much what many expected. Another excellent pitching performance by a Yankees starter, who was provided with literally zero run support as the Detroit Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the ALCS with a 3-0 victory.
Hiroki Kuroda, pitching on three days’ rest, was nearly flawless through the first six innings, but finally gave up a run in the seventh after Quintin Berry led off the inning with a double and came around to score on a fielder’s choice. Kuroda finished with 7 2/3 innings, three runs (two were inherited runners who scored after a botched call by the second base umpire, more below) on five hits and zero walks. He struck out a career high 11 batters.
However, Kuroda was matched every step of the way by Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers righty was actually even better than Kuroda, tossing seven innings of scoreless ball. Sanchez allowed just three hits and three walks.
With two outs in the top of the eighth, Kuroda allowed two singles, the second was to right field which Nick Swisher got in quickly to second base as Omar Infante went too far beyond the bag. As he returned to second the tag was applied by Cano on a diving Infante’s sternum but the umpire somehow missed the call. Once the runner was called safe, pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia singled him home and then Miguel Cabrera delivered another RBI-single which gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead. It took the Yankees five pitchers to retire the side.
While the Yankees got the short end of the stick on the call, they were already down 1-0, so without scoring any runs, the call cannot be the excuse. For reasons not known, other than it is part of the game which has ups and downs, a majority of the important middle of the lineup hitters have had horrendous postseasons. Today’s game seems to be the low point of a disastrous offensive display in the playoffs by the team as a whole. The Yankees are hitting a combined .193 in the ALCS.
Now down 2-0 in the ALCS and headed to Detroit, the Yankees have to somehow figure out a way to win at least two of three games from the Tigers at Comerica Park in order to try to get the series back to the Bronx. The problem is one of them is against the pitcher who will pitch Game 3 and could win his second straight Cy Young Award — Justin Verlander.
Joe Girardi, who was tossed from the game after the botched call, will have to decide if he counters with CC Sabathia or not. In my view, it is the only option the Yankees have since they have not scored a single run against the first two Tigers starters, who are good but not Verlander. Phil Hughes, the scheduled starter, had a good season and nice start in the ALDS, but he is not Sabathia, even Sabathia on three days’ rest.
It remains to be seen what Girardi will do, but he cannot rely on his offense for much, against Verlander or otherwise, so it’s hard to see what choice he has.
Up against the proverbial wall, their season on the brink, the Yankees offense will have to completely turn things around. Otherwise, we’ve seen the last of the Yankees in the Bronx in 2012.