Sunday, October 14, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Tigers 3, Yankees 0
By Wallace Matthews
What it means: That nothing seems to rouse the Yankees these days, not the loss of Derek Jeter, nor a lengthy pre-game meeting at which their manager delivered a pep talk, nor the prospect of heading into Detroit -- and a meeting with Justin Verlander on Tuesday -- down 0-2.
But that's where they stand after today's 3-0 loss and another horrendous offensive performance. They managed just three hits, one an infield single, off Anibal Sanchez, who went seven scoreless innings and struck out seven, all of them at the expense of the bottom four hitters in the Yankees order: Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Jayson Nix.
Hiro-ic effort:Hiroki Kuroda turned in probably the second-best pitching performance of the Yankees' postseason, after CC Sabathia's complete game in the clincher against the Orioles, and considering how much better the Tigers are than Baltimore offensively, maybe even better than that. He allowed just five hits, walking none and striking out 11, matching his season high. He even talked Joe Girardi out of pulling him after Omar Infante's two-out single in the eighth, but lasted just one more batter, a single by Austin Jackson. He was charged with three runs but the second came in when Boone Logan allowed the only batter he faced, Avisail Garcia, to single in Infante, and the third when Joba Chamberlain gave up a single to Miguel Cabrera, his only batter.
Hit the road, Joe: Girardi got tossed in the eighth inning for arguing a terrible call at second base by ump Jeff Nelson, who called Infante safe after he overran the bag on Jackson's single and was tagged on the chest by Robinson Cano, which would have been the third out of the inning. Girardi argued the call when it happened and then tried again after he made a pitching change later in the inning. The Tigers went on to score two more runs. It was Girardi's first postseason ejection as a manager.
Perfect start: Showing a nasty splitter and no ill effects from starting on three days rest, Kuroda set down the first 15 Tigers he faced, striking out 8. Jhonny Peralta busted it up with a single leading off the sixth, but Kuroda retired the next three Tigers on groundouts.
A man alone: As usual, Kuroda, who got the least amount of run support on the Yankees staff, was on his own again today, working without a single run from his offense for the first 8 innings. And the way the Yankees were hitting, the one run the Tigers scored in the seventh (see below) seemed like 10.
Postseason history: Of the worst kind, however, for Cano, whose 0-for-4 today extended his hitless streak to 0-for-26, the longest postseason hitless streak in baseball history. Cano's last hit was an RBI double in the first inning of Game 2 of the ALDS on October 8.
Breakout?: Alex Rodriguez October of nightmares continued through his first three at bats -- two strikeouts and a line out to left -- but he singled sharply in his last at-bat with two out in the ninth. Omen for the remainder of the series? Or mirage?
Can't catch a break: Even by association, A-Rod is always guilty. In the seventh inning, with runners at first and third and one out, Mark Teixeira's attempt to catch Delmon Young's foul popup into the seats down the first-base line was unsuccessful when a fan -- in a Rodriguez shirt! -- got in the way. If Tex had made the play, the run might have scored anyway, and it did when Young's potential double-play grounder was muffed by Cano on the pivot, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Sign of respect: Having seen his postseason powers first-hand Saturday night, the Tigers were taking no chances with Raul Ibanez with a runner on third and two out in the sixth inning. Jim Leyland chose to walk Ibanez and pitch to Russell Martin, and the move paid off when Jhonny Peralta (again!) came up with a great play on Martin's check-swing roller to short to end the inning without damage.
Keeping his distance: Swisher, who has become a favorite of Stadium boo-birds along with A-Rod and Curtis Granderson, was conspicuous by his absence from any interaction with fans in the right-field seats between innings. The normally-interactive Swisher waited as long as possible to trot out to right and took his warmup throws just behind the infield grass.
Here in spirit: The Bleacher Creatures included "De-rek Je-ter!" in their roll call as a tribute to the injured and absent Yankees captain.
Intimate gathering: Once again, the Yankees played before a much-less-than full house for Game 2 of the ALDS. Yankee Stadium was no more than 60 percent full at first pitch despite beautiful, summerlike weather and the possibility that this would be the last home game of 2012.
What's coming from us: Ian O'Connor will have a column on Cano, who is having the kind of postseason that Swisher normally has. I'll have a column on how the Yankees are disproving one of postseason baseball's most repeated maxims, that great pitching wins in the playoffs. Matt Ehalt and Mike Mazzeo will be filling the blog with all the news from the postgame clubhouse.
What's next: Travel day to Detroit, and no workout Monday while Joe Girardi returns home to Peoria, Ill. for the day to attend the funeral of his father, Jerry, who died at the age of 81 on Oct. 6.