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2012 ALCS: New York Yankees Cling To Hope, Trail Tigers 3-0

Alexa Girkout |
October 18, 2012 | 7:41 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Alex Rodriguez has been on the bench for much of the ALCS (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
Alex Rodriguez has been on the bench for much of the ALCS (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
When it rains, it pours. Whether it’s an untimely bout of bad luck or just the natural progression that all baseball teams experience at one point or another, the Yankees are caught up in a deadly storm. 

The ALCS has become some bizarre nightmare and New Yorkers are begging to be pinched. An 0-3 deficit is a situation the Yankees probably never gave a fleeting thought. So with uncharacteristically quiet bats, they head into Game 4 with a seemingly insurmountable task, but one that they know is certainly not impossible. But more on that later.

Game 1

Game 1 had all the makings of a classic Hollywood comeback (a trend that seems particularly ubiquitous this postseason: see A’s, Giants and Cardinals) with majestic swings and the roar of the home crowd. After eight scoreless innings, the Yanks launched back-to-back two-run home runs off the bats of Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez to tie the game at 4-4.

Instead, the game marks the premature end to Derek Jeter’s season. In the 12th inning, Jeter tumbled after a ground ball up the middle—and never got up. He would sustain a fractured ankle on the play and is looking at a recovery of up to three months. In other words, one pivotal player down. The Yankees would lose in the bottom of the 12th.

Game 2

Add nine more zeroes to the credentials of the Tigers’ pitching staff. Anibal Sanchez and Phil Coke limited the Yankees to only four hits in a Game 2 shutout, leaving the big bats of Ichiro, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson noticeably silent. The pinstripes could hardly ask for more from their right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who tossed six innings of his own shutout ball and tallied up 11 strikeouts before allowing three runs...but that didn’t make the headlines.

Game 3

Just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse—Jeter gone and a third of the offense that felt just as gone, too—Detroit ace Justin Verlander took the mound. The AL All-Star starter was pitching a shutout up until the ninth inning, when he gave up a home run to Jeter’s replacement Eduardo Nunez. Despite the blemish, Coke would come in to record his second save of the series. 

Again, the plight of the Yankees was the real story here. Starter Phil Hughes exited the game early in the fourth inning with a stiff back and manager Joe Girardi showed either his tough love or his desperation by opting to bench both Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez.  The night ended again in a loss, and with the Yankees posting an abysmal .182 batting average for the series, only a mere .018 points fewer than their average for the whole postseason.

Game 4

Strike one, strike two and strike three. But in the ALCS, you’re not out yet. As the Yankees trudged into a do-or-die Game 4, the rain really started to fall. This time, the storm wasn’t metaphorical. After a delay of nearly 70 minutes, the game was postponed until 1:00 p.m. PT Thursday.

Although bad weather is usually an omen, the delay can only be good for the Yankees. In the potential series-ender, the Yankees will send one of their final hopes in C.C. Sabathia against Detroit’s Max Scherzer on an extra day of rest. Perhaps the bonus time will allow Girardi an opportunity to rethink benching A-Rod for consecutive games and keeping Granderson out of the lineup, too.

What the Yankees Must Do

The team needs to step up with Derek Jeter gone (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
The team needs to step up with Derek Jeter gone (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
Score first. Simple enough, right? It sounds like it would be but the Yankees have yet to take a lead in the series, let alone score in the first eight innings. The team has to give itself a chance and give its starting pitchers even the slightest cushion if it wants to threaten to push the series to a fifth game.

Let A-Rod take a pitch and, no, not so he can turn around and toss the ball to supermodels in the stands. Girardi is taking no prisoners with his lineup and it’s clear he’s trying to pull strings to produce a winning lineup, but the Yankees can’t win without their slugger, especially with Jeter out. Or at least, it wouldn’t feel right. Even if he hasn’t amounted to much in the playoffs and despite the trade rumors, Rodriguez is a household name for a reason and he certainly wants to win as desperately as the rest of the team (or so seems his demeanor when he’s not busy flirting).

It’s Been Done Before

It’s a long climb, but an 0-3 hole is not impossible to escape and the Yankees surely know this better than any other team, save maybe for the Red Sox. In 2004, the Yanks were ready to stick a fork in Boston; they led the series three games to none and were clinging to a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning. With only three outs separating them from the World Series, New York watched its heated rival slowly rise up and take Games 4, 5, 6 and 7.

This time, the tables have turned. And though they’ll probably never utter the words out loud, the Yankees are praying that they’ll be able to take a page out of Boston’s book.

Reach Staff Writer Alexa Girkout here. Follow her here.



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