I’m usually the last person to put a lot of stock in psychological mumbo-jumbo when it comes to explaining baseball outcomes, but you’d have to be a parody of a spreadsheet loving stats-geek to think there will be no effect on the Yankees after the way last night ended. Losing after the big ninth inning comeback would have been bad enough, but to lose Derek Jeter on top of it, well, at some point you really do start to feel like the baseball gods are just screwing with your emotions, especially after the way the whole season has gone. The Yankees have to find a way to not let them bother them, but they’ll also need someone who hasn’t been hitting to step up and fill the void in production Jeter leaves, and then some.
Be a Hiro:
Hiroki Kuroda has never pitched a game on short res in his MLB career, but today he will. He has to find a way to get outs. It’s that simple. The Yankees could have gone with Derek Lowe or David Phelps, but this is a must win game, which means that your best players need to step up, and Kuroda has been their most dependable starter all season. Call on him is the right move, and now it’s on him and the bullpen to step up. Period.
Kuroda was excellent in Game Three against Baltimore, holding the O’s scoreless with the exception of a couple of home runs that came on get me over breaking balls to Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado, and he pitched to a 3.38 ERA in two starts against the Tigers this year.
The Tigers will be doing the Yankees something of a favor by starting their fourth best starter in today’s game, but unfortunately that’s Anibal Sanchez, who’s certainly no slouch. Sanchez, the former Red Sox prospect who went to Florida in the Josh Beckett trade, has come back from injury to become a very solid big league pitcher, and posted a 3.53 FIP ovr 195.2 innings between the Marlins and Tigers this year. 74.2 of those innings came with Detroit, where he posted a 3.74 ERA. The Yankees faced him one time this season, and touched him up for seven runs in three innings, a performance they’d be well advised to duplicate today.
Not to sound like a broken record, but, the offense absolutely has to show up today. The ninth inning outburst was great and all, but that obscures the fact that, otherwise, Detroit shut them out for 11 innings, and the Yankees blew several scoring opportunities early. The culprits are basically the same as they have been all postseason, with Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson functioning as human runs stoppers right now. Something has to be done to change that, but only so much of it can come from manager Joe Girardi. First and foremost, Cano absolutely has to start playing like the Yankees’ best hitter because, well, he is. And it’s really hard to have postseason success when your best player is doing absolutely nothing productive for you, and Cano hasn’t had a hit since the first inning of Game Two in Baltimore.
Here are the full lineups for both teams:
Anibal Sanchez RHP
Hiroki Kuroda RHP