The heart and soul of the New York Yankees lay on the infield dirt writhing in pain, and nobody at the unusually half-empty Yankee Stadium could utter a word.
In the top of the 12th inning of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, Derek Jeter fielded a routine ground ball and fell to the ground in agony. In that instant, the Yankees’ already tough task of beating the Detroit Tigers to advance to the World Series became that much harder. After the Yankees suffered a 6-4 loss in extra innings, manager Joe Girardi announced that Jeter fractured his ankle and would not play for the rest of the playoffs.
Not seeing Derek Jeter in a Yankee postseason game is like Christmas Day without snow or the Fourth of July without fireworks. Jeter is the captain, the leader and at age 38 probably the best offensive shortstop in the American League. The loss hurt the Yankees not only because of his presence in the clubhouse, but because he was one of the only Yankees actually pulling his weight at the plate.
If any Yankee fan read this paragraph before the playoffs began, they would probably rush home and check StubHub for World Series tickets. Each starting pitcher (C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda) has made two starts in this postseason, and the highest ERA among those pitchers is Pettite’s 3.29 mark. No starter has given up more than three runs in any start this postseason, and their bullpen has been stellar as well. With this pitching combined with the high powered Yankee lineup, they would be a shoo-in for the World Series, wouldn’t they?
They should probably cancel that order, because the World Series will most likely not be in the cards this season.
The Yankees fell to Detroit, 2-1, on Tuesday night after Tigers ace Justin Verlander silenced their bats. They now trail 3-0 in the ALCS with Game 4 set for today in Detroit after last night was rained out.
The Yankees’ star-studded offense has been reduced to nothing. Alex Rodriguez has been much maligned for his .130 playoff batting average and his $30 million yearly salary. His terrible at-bats have resulted in him being left out of the starting lineup for two games this postseason, and he has been pinch-hit for during important situations in two other games.
However, while on the bench, Rodriguez succeeded in getting phone numbers from two blonde women behind the dugout.
“With A-Rod, he is not producing and obviously he doesn’t care judging by his behavior in the dugout,” senior John Patino said. “So he has no place in the lineup as far as I am concerned.”
While Rodriguez is often the main target for criticism, the blame should be spread out among several players who are not hitting up to their caliber. Curtis Granderson is hitting .103 in 29 playoff at-bats, striking out 15 times. Robinson Cano, who hit .615 over the final week of the regular season, set a postseason record for most at-bats in a row without recording a hit (29). Nick Swisher has all but punched his ticket out of New York by hitting .154 in 26 playoff at-bats and leaving many runners stranded on base. The Yankees relied on pitching and the timely hitting of Jeter, Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki to get them to the ALCS.
Baseball is so unpredictable that nobody quite knows what will happen next. Many baseball fans would say that this series is over, but those fans probably also said before Game 1 that the red-hot Cano would produce during the playoffs. Patino echoed this statement about the sport’s uncertainty.
“What I love about baseball is that anything can happen,” Patino said. “The Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit in 2004, so the Yankees can do it as well.”
Patino provided a blueprint for the Yankees defeating the Tigers.
“The hitters need to start producing, and if the great starting pitching continues, I don’t see why they can’t come back.”
The Yankees have dug themselves a big hole, but baseball fans should know not to declare a series over until the final out is made.