- The starting pitching the Yankees have gotten so far has overshadowed it a bit, but the Yankees’ bullpen has been every bit as good in the postseason for the most part. Tonight they were pressed into duty early when Phil Hughes had to leave the game in the fourth with what’s been called a stiff back (though not before giving up a home run to Delmon Young!), but the relief corps managed to pitch five innings of one run ball, and that was without Rafael Soriano or David Robertson getting into the game. The one run came on a Miguel Cabrera double that probably should have been caught, but Curtis Granderson was playing shallow for some reason and the ball sailed over his head for an RBI double.
- Ichiro Suzuki is still hot, going 2-4 on the night with a couple of singles.
- Eduardo Nunez had himself a game. Inserted in the lineup somewhat surprisingly (but correctly), Nunez provided the team’s only run with a home run off of Verlander to lead of the ninth, had solid at bats all night, and even made a great defensive play at short to save a run, though he and Robinson Cano couldn’t complete the double play to end the inning.
- The Yankees didn’t give up, working good at bats in the ninth and even having Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano pick up two out hits in front of Ibanez. Ibanez worked the count full and fouled off some tough pitches, but a slider in the dirt finally got him swinging to kill the rally.
- As a whole, the offense was once again terrible. You can chalk that up to the opponent if you want, but the fact of the matter is that Verlander was very beatable tonight, getting behind hitters consistently, even working into three ball counts with regularity, but the Yankees couldn’t make him pay by hitting him when he was forced to challenge them with strikes. The script was repeated almost as a comedy: 3-1 count, fastball in the zone fouled off to get to two strikes. It’s one thing to get beat by good stuff, but the Yankees didn’t do that tonight,m they just couldn’t hit anything. Heck, they only struck out four times in the game, and one of those was registered by Phil Coke.
- I’m just about done with Granderson. The strikeouts are bad enough, and looking completely lost at the plate is even worse. but his insistence on playing such a shallow center field is really just too much for me. It’s a stupid tactic to begin with, and I don’t know why so many center fielders insist on doing it now, but at least guys like B.J. Upton and Adam Jones are actually good at ranging back on balls. Granderson isn’t that, and to have him playing in with Miguel Cabrera, an extremely talented hitter who hits the ball hard to all fields, at the plate is just ridiculous.
The bottom line:
The Yankees are literally playing for their season tomorrow, as one more loss in this series will mean the end of the road for this team. They will have their ace on the mound, but that won’t matter one bit if the offense doesn’t build on that ninth inning rally and start doing something. Unfortunately Max Scherzer is hardly a slouch in his own right, so once again they’ve got their work cut out for them.