Not only did the Yankees drop game one, but they have also lost their captain for the rest of the playoffs with a fractured ankle.
It’s a three month recovery period, so Eduardo Nunez will rejoin the roster. It’s obviously a huge blow for the team, and not just because he’s the leader. Other than Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter is the only guy hitting above .300 this postseason with regular playing time.
Let’s begin a rant about everything that went wrong in game one:
As a whole, this game was just brutal to watch. So many bad breaks, wasted opportunities, and questionable managerial decisions doomed the Yankees. It looked like Raul Ibanez would come to the rescue again, but he can’t do everything.
Let’s start with bad luck: in the each of the first two innings against Doug Fister, the Yanks loaded the bases. A-Rod was the guy who got the opportunity, naturally. The good news: he smoked the ball. The bad news: Jhonny Peralta and his 9.9 UZR stole the hit with a diving play to end the frame.
In the second, Robinson Cano was the man with the bases juiced. He ripped one back to the box, right off Doug Fister’s wrist and too Peralta again, who threw out Cano at first to end the inning. Or did he? After seeing the replay, Cano was indeed safe at first, costing the Yankees at least one run that inning.
Moving on to the sixth inning: Austin Jackson leads off with a perfectly placed triple down the right field line. Following a fly out by Omar Infante, Joe Girardi chose to walk Miguel Cabrera to face Prince Fielder with runners on the corners. This is by the book traditional thinking, but in reality, it’s a mistake. Let’s look past the fact that it actually increased the Tigers win probability by 2.4% – with Cabrera and Fielder up with a runner on third and less than two outs, it’s better off accepting that you’re going to give up one run, rather than giving them a free baserunner to set up a big inning. Fielder singled in Jackson, and then Delmon Young drove Cabrera in on a bloop single to right. Instead of 1-0, it was 2-0.
Let me get to that Young single: how on earth does Nick Swisher let this ball drop in? Nick clearly slowed up before the ball dropped in. At minimum, he could have made some sort of sliding effort. This isn’t turf, so the ball isn’t going to roll far away, plus it’s Prince Fielder running the bases behind Cabrera. Swisher must be more aware of the situation. Here’s the clip:
Bottom six: runners on second and third with nobody out, and the #RISPFail theme comes into play. A-Rod: strikeout. Swisher: walk to load ‘em up. [K]urtis Granderson and Russell Martin both whiff to end the frame. 3/13 with runners in scoring position for the game is once again not good, although they were robbed of two hits earlier.
Moving to the top of the seventh, two outs: Girardi brings in Derek Lowe to face Miguel Cabrera. Why? This is a two run game, and David Robertson did not pitch yesterday. He has to keep the game close. Yes, Lowe retired Cabrera, but he then wound up surrendering a homer to Young next inning and a double by Peralta to follow. From there, in comes Boone Logan to face lefty Dirks. Boone gets the job done there, but is oddly left in for Avisail Garcia, who hits lefties to a tune of 107 wRC+ compared to a paltry 58 against righties. Of course, Garcia makes the Yankees pay with an RBI single to make it 4-0, while Robertson remains in the bullpen.
The comeback was obviously great, as what Ibanez has done is pretty special. Ichiro had a big game too, going 4/6 with that two-run homer preceding Ibanez’ tying blow. The Yanks best chance to win was in the tenth, with Brett Gardner on second with one out. Martin flew out to center, and Jeter flew out to right after Gardner took third.
Girard’s next mistake was not leaving in Robertson for a second inning of work in extras. Winning the game should be priority, not saving Robertson for tomorrow, especially with Cabrera, Fielder, and Young coming to bat. I’d rather have a tired Robertson than David Phelps, and that’s no knock on Phelps. Phelps walked Cabrera, got Fielder on a groundout which advanced Miguel to second, and then Swisher came right back with another bonehead play. Delmon Young ripped a liner to right, and yes it was smoked, but Swisher got to the spot and put his glove in the wrong spot. Simply inexcusable, as the Tigers took a 5-4 lead there before tacking on another and not looking back. Take a look:
Some closing thoughts:
Surprise, surprise: Andy Pettitte delivered another solid pitching performance, as all four playoff starters have gotten the job done. The offense, as illustrated, was a let down yet again.
A lot of pressure on Hiroki Kuroda tomorrow. Not only is he going on three days rest, but he also needs to go deep considering a tired bullpen. Joba Chamerblain was the only guy not used out of the pen tonight.
You know what else is bad? Cano: 0 for his last 21 at bats, just two hits this postseason. He did scald that ball in the second, though. Nick Swisher was 1/5 tonight, and 3/23 this postseason. Thought Curtis Granderson snapped out of it with that home run yesterday in the clincher vs. Baltimore? Nope, 0/4 with two more strikeouts. A-Rod delivered another 0fer, although he was robbed of a hit in the first. Hopefully Ichiro’s 4/6 tonight will carry over, but the offense needs a huge pick-up after losing Jeter.
While no game is a truly a must-win except an elimination game, tomorrow is as close as it gets with Verlander looming in game three. First pitch tomorrow is scheduled a little after four, with Kuroda against Anibal Sanchez.