1. It’s hard to put into words just how much losing Jeter hurts the Yankees. Not only is it a huge psychological and emotional blow to see the face of your franchise, a guy who doggedly plays through pain like Jete has been doing for a month, literally carried off of the field like that, but Jeter was one of their best hitters at the moment to boot! I think Jayson Nix will fill in about as adequately as he could defensively, but he’s not much with the bat against right-handed pitchers, and that’s all he’s going to see i this series. And while Ichiro had another good performance last night, he’s not going to be able to carry the weight at the top of the lineup all by himself without some people who aren’t doing anything finally getting their act together.
2. Speaking of the offense, they’ve really now reached a level of embarrassment at which the baseball gods are toying with them, allowing them a scoring outburst only as a result of an impromptu game of “Who’s More Awful?” with Jose Valverde. Other than that? Bupkiss. The incredible thing about it is that the offense isn’t actually terrible from top to bottom, and several people are actually doing quite well. Jeter, Ichiro, Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez, and Russell Martin have all been hitting, and all continued to perform well last night. The problem is that Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Grandersonare collectively more awful than those guys are good, and they’re killing scoring chances.
3. With that in mind, how does this sound for a lineup right now: Ichiro-Martin-Ibanez-Tex-Cano-Swisher-Granderson-Nix-Chavez? Not the most conventional lineup, I know, but you have to do something reasonably drastic with the loss of Jeter, and you might as well stack the guys who are actually giving you quality at bats at the top of the lineup and set them all up with one another. You’ve gotta get the auto outs like Cano and A-Rod out of a position where they’re adding outs to the scoreboard and making it hard for the guys around them to grind out runs.
4. I’m not going to get to carried away with this, because Girardi did a legitimately excellent job of calling the shots in the ALDS, but his bullpen management last night was ridiculous, something right out of his worst moments in 2010-11. Bringing Derek Lowe in to relieve Andy Pettitte in the seventh inning was bad enough, but leaving him in in the eighth, and allowing Boone Logan to face a righty, is the sort of mid-June managing you can’t do this time of year. I know the win expectancy charts aren’t very good when you’re down 2-0 in the eighth inning, but a) that matters MUCH less in the postseason when the marginal value of each win is orders of magnitude higher than in the regular season and, b) you have to account for the fact that Jim Leyland is going to stick with Valverde as his closer, so you’re going to get a much better shot at a comeback than the averages would suggest. Even if you had Fernando Rodney looming, however, you’ve got to use your best relievers to keep these games within striking distance as much as you possibly can, and last night is a great example of why.
5. While we’re on the topic of Girardi, he really needs to figure out what he’s going to do with A-Rod and actually stick to some sort of plan. Right now he seems to have found the worst possible arrangement, and it’s kind of embarrassing for everyone that A-Rod has apparently settled into a routine of starting the game only to be symbolically pinch hit for once the Yankees are behind on the scoreboard late in the game. I personally think he should just go the whole nine yards and let Chavez start (I know Chavez hasn’t been awesome in his place, but he hasn’t gotten regular at bats either), but failing that he should at least pinch hit for him in higher leverage situations. Thursday night he left A-Rod in with runners on second and third and one out, only to have Ibanez pinch hit with no one on and two outs in the ninth, and then last night he leaves Alex in with runners on second and third with no outs in the sixth inning, the same inning in which the Tigers got two runs in the top of the frame, but then pinch hits Chavez with the Yankees down 4-0, no one on, and one out in the eighth. There’s just no real logic to these moves at all.
6. I don’t know what Nick Swisher‘s problem is, but the two balls he failed to catch that led directly to runs were completely inexcusable. The liner in the 12th inning should have been caught, period, and he should have at least made an effort to dive for Delmon Young‘s bloop single in the sixth with Miguel Cabrera running full speed without regard to a double play at second base. Swisher had a pretty good game to start this postseason, but it’s been all downhill at the plate from there, and that effort in the field last night was just atrocious. If I’m the manager, I’m very much thinking about sitting Swisher in favor of Brett Gardner today, or at least removing him for defense in the seventh or eighth inning.