What do the New York Yankees, down 2-0 to the Detroit Tigers, need to do to get back into the American League Championship Series?
By Amanda Rykoff
I've been at five consecutive postseason games in five consecutive days. I've seen almost every pitch of all 55 innings of baseball at Yankee Stadium this week. I celebrated the ALDS-clinching win Friday over the Orioles and mourned the loss of Derek Jeter in ALCS Game 1 on Saturday. On Sunday, I watched Hiroki Kuroda dominate the Tigers, retiring the first 15 batters he faced before surrendering his first hit in the sixth inning, striking out 11 in 7 2/3 innings. And when the Tigers eventually scored their first run to break the scoreless tie in the seventh inning, I knew the game was over. What do the Yankees need to do to turn this series around? They need to start hitting.
It's not just Alex Rodriguez, who was benched for ALDS Game 5, taking the fall for an entire team that has seemingly forgotten how to hit. Aside from Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez and the injured Jeter, the entire lineup has struggled offensively. Check out these postseason numbers: Curtis Granderson, 3-for-26; Nick Swisher, 4-for-26; Rodriguez, 3-for-23. And those aren't even the worst offenders. All-Star Robinson Cano -- who finished the regular season on a 24-for-39 tear -- is now 2-for-32, including 26 consecutive hitless at-bats, a postseason record.
Collectively, the team is batting .205 in the postseason and has scored 20 runs (seven against Baltimore in ALDS Game 1). The team appears listless and looks lost at the plate, striking out 51 times in the last five games at Yankee Stadium. Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez are very good pitchers, but the Yankees have made them look like Cy Young winner Justin Verlander (who looms on Tuesday night).
With this team, a one-run deficit feels like 10. Add the offensive woes to some defensive miscues, a missed call and questionable bullpen management, and you've got a 2-0 deficit in a series that feels like it's already over.
It could change in Detroit, of course. But with Verlander and Max Scherzer (the top two strikeout pitchers in the majors this season) scheduled to take the bump for Games 3 and 4, I'm not optimistic. I hope I'm wrong, but I expect I've seen Yankee Stadium for the last time until 2013.
By Kate Fagan
This is an interesting question because it assumes I actually want the Yankees to get back into this ALCS, which I don't. So I don't want to distribute sage advice on the off chance Joe Girardi is checking ESPN for my thoughts. (I grew up in Albany, N.Y., and my family has long been Mets fans.)
But if I were trying to answer this question impartially, I would say there is nothing the Yankees can do to get back into this series. They're done. They lost two at Yankee Stadium and now they're heading back to Detroit, where the Tigers will start ace Justin Verlander in Game 3. I don't think we'll see another game in the Bronx until April.
Coming back from a 2-0 hole, which has been done in the championship series only three times in history, takes a kind of grit the Yanks don't possess -- especially now that Derek Jeter is out.
The Yankees are done.
That's my opinion, totally unbiased.
By Jane McManus
The Yankees can easily get back into the ALCS, but they may have to wait until 2013. Sometimes, the kind of adversity a team is faced with is too much to overcome, no matter how inspiring the pregame speech. You can never count out the Yankees entirely, but the lack of hitting, the loss of Derek Jeter and, reaching back to the start of the season, the moment closer Mariano Rivera went down all contribute to a sense of inevitability.
But it's not all doom and gloom. The Yankees' fans can always count on their team to be playing into October. And as much as this hurts in New York, imagine what they're thinking in Baltimore.
By Graham Hays
Did Justin Verlander already have chicken pox as a child? You should never wish ill on anyone, but face it, answering what the Yankees have to do to get back into the ALCS comes down to finding a way to deal with the best pitcher in baseball. Probably twice. Among several road warriors in the previous round, the San Francisco Giants showed that squandering home-field advantage isn't always a deal breaker, but they didn't have to beat Verlander, or even Johnny Cueto, to complete their comeback.
The Yankees need to win four of five games to reach the World Series, and to do that without facing Verlander twice, they have to beat him in Game 3 and make sure the series doesn't reach Game 7. Granted, no team hit more home runs off Verlander this season than the Yankees, and he's only been very, very good against them in recent seasons, as opposed to untouchable, but good luck.
The Yankees lost one talisman when Derek Jeter exited with a fractured ankle. Without their captain and up against Verlander with their season on the line, there's really only one logical next step. Sign Ian Poulter.
By Sarah Spain
Hit the road. Get outta Dodge. Head to Detroit. The Yankees "faithful" have lost faith and their negativity is affecting the team.
Nick Swisher hears the taunts in the field and at the plate, Alex Rodriguez can't so much as scratch his knee without getting ripped, and a chorus of boos has become the new walk-up music for Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. Yankee Stadium isn't even sold out, but the "fans" who are there are certainly making their presence felt. It's not their fault the team can't hit the broadside of a barn, but they didn't help through the first two games by making home field a disadvantage. It's one thing to feed off the energy of a hostile away crowd, but quite another to try to block out the boos of your own fans. Getting away from Yankee Stadium may be just what the Yankees need to get their confidence back and get back into this series.
By Adena Andrews
One benching and we are sending A-Rod to the retirement home. One comeback win and all of a sudden the St. Louis Cardinals are the World Series champs. Now two losses and the Yankees are suddenly out of the running. They should pack their bags and go home. Overreact much?
The last time I checked, a team needs to win four games in order to advance. The Yankees may be down, but they are not out yet. Having to play an ALCS game without Derek Jeter was jarring to the squad.
"A lot of bad stuff has happened in a short amount of time," said outfielder Nick Swisher.
The team had no time to adjust for Jeter's missing talents. The Detroit Tigers didn't beat the Yankees; it was as if the Yankees beat themselves. In Game 3, the Yankees will be ready for life without The Captain. A day of rest and motivation from a hostile Comerica Park crowd may be just what the doctor ordered for this ailing Yankees squad.