9:46 am Oct. 17, 2012
You have to hand it to the 2012 New York Yankees: they've certainly been consistent.
Witness Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, one that put the Yankees in an almost impossible quandary. The Yankees now trail the Tigers in the best-of-seven A.L.C.S., three games to none, and only once has a baseball team recovered from such a deficit.
They did it in a familiar fashion last night in Detroit, despite a number of lineup changes from manager Joe Girardi. That ever-present zero stayed perched on the scoreboard until the ninth inning. They didn't struggle with runners in scoring position, at least, but that was mostly because they did not having a runner in scoring position until the game's final at-bat.
Even the magic of Raul Ibanez, which kept the team's offensive struggles from costing them their series with the Orioles, ran out last night. Ibanez struck out to end it, with the tying and go-ahead runs standing on first and second base. Against a lefty, it seemed odd that Girardi didn't pinch-hit Alex Rodriguez in that spot, if not sooner.
But Girardi has responded to this extended postseason slump by failing to trust the guys who got him to the postseason with one of the league's best offenses. And the uncommonly abrupt changes have produced no positive results.
Now the Yankees have one game, and perhaps no more than that, to get it right.
C.C. Sabathia pitches Wednesday night, and a win would force a Game 5. Even with a victory, the Yankees would still trail, 3-2, but the Tigers would be forced to close out the series at Yankee Stadium in either Game 6 or Game 7.
But for a Yankee team hitting .198 in the series, the problem hasn't been pitching. It's been getting the minimal offense required to take advantage of a postseason pitching run that should have been more than enough to carry the Yankees deeper into October.
Instead, thanks to the disappearing bats, that run could end in just a few hours.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Ronnie Brewer is close to returning, solving Mike Woodson's problem of exactly who to start over J.R. smith.
Steve Novak wants to shoot more off the dribble.
The Nets rested their top six players, and still beat the Boston Celtics, 97-96, in preseason action.
The U.S. men's national team advanced to the finals of World Cup 2014 qualifying with a resounding 3-1 win over Guatemala Tuesday night.