The Yankees needed Phil Hughes to come up big, they needed Robinson Cano to start hitting again. They didn’t get either as they lost to Justin Verlander and the Tigers 2-1 in Detroit on Tuesday night to drop to 0-3 in the ALCS.
Hughes was solid in the first three innings and then opened the fourth inning as he allowed a solo shot to Delmon Young and then walked Andy Dirks on four pitches before being lifted because of a stiff back. David Phelps came on in relief and got out of the fourth inning, but gave up a run in the fifth as the Yankees fell behind 2-0.
That was all the runs the Tigers would score, but that ended up being enough as Verlander was masterful. He went 8.1 innings and allowed just three hits and the only run came on an Eduardo Nunez solo shot to lead-off the ninth inning.
That inning was probably the best inning to score a run, but Brett Gardner grounded out, then Phil Coke got Ichiro Suzuki on a weak grounder, and after a Mark Teixeira walk and Robinson Cano 0-for-29 snapping single, Raul Ibanez struck out to end the game.
There was a lot of talk on Twitter that inning about pinch hitting with Alex Rodriguez that inning. All things considered, the perfect at bat for that was probably the final at bat of the game. Ibanez, who hit just .197 with a .492 OPS against lefties this year, was facing the lefty Coke. A-Rod, who hit .308 with a .924 OPS against lefties this year, was most certainly the better choice, but Joe Girardi stuck with Ibanez and it didn’t pay off.
That wasn’t the only thing that didn’t pay off for Girardi. He benched both A-Rod and Nick Swisher for this game, but Eric Chavez and Gardner, who took their places, went 0-for-7. Still, it’s hard to kill Girardi in my mind as A-Rod and Swisher were equally capable of going 0-for-7 (although A-Rod probably wouldn’t have made the error Chavez made). It’s also hard to argue pinch hitting Ibanez, who has been their best clutch performer, with A-Rod in the ninth.
Still, it all makes for frustrating baseball. The Yankees haven’t been killed in this series as they’ve lost three games by a combined score of six runs, but it’s really hard to watch Cano go 0-for-29 (now 1-for-30) and A-Rod, Swisher, and Granderson combine for 10 hits in eight games. Only one team in history has come back after being down 0-3 in the series and they didn’t have Verlander lurking in Game 7.
The Yankees are probably done. The facts are there. They haven’t hit and they don’t have an easy task ahead of them. If their offense does wake up though, even a little bit, they have CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, and CC again coming up in rotation. That’s a tough foursome to beat. Realistically, there isn’t a lot of hope, but if any team can come back from down 0-3 this team might be it.
If the Yankees do mount what would be an amazing, if unrealistic, comeback, you are going to want to be there to see it (whether it’s in the Bronx or Detroit). If you are looking for tickets support Bronx Baseball Daily and get a good deal by buying your tickets here.