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The Yankees dropped Game 2 of the ALCS, after some terrible hitting and some terrible umpiring.
Former Yankee Phil Coke now in for the Tigers, and he gets Ichiro to fly out to center. Robinson Cano extends his hitless streak to 0-for-26. Lovely. He can't even get a hit off Coke, what's he going to do with Justin Verlander in Game 3? Awful. Mark Teixiera pops up to end the inning. It feels like they're just playing out the string until they board their flight to Detroit, though it looks like home plate umpire Rob Drake has had a horrible strike zone. I won't know for sure until I see the Pitch F/X Report after the game, but for now... yippie.
Cody Eppley works around a Jhonny Peralta single to pitch a scoreless ninth innings, so there's that. The Yankees will have one last chance to avoid falling behind 0-2 with the prospect of facing Verlander in Game 3. The Yankees haven't been swept in a playoff series in their last 36 attempts, but boy is it looking like a distinct possibility. Don't get me wrong, I’m not predicting this, just acknowledging it as a possibility. I think CC definitely is in good position to take Game 4, and even with the mismatch of Verlander vs. Hughes, you never know.
Either way, Coke is back on in the bottom of the ninth. He strikes out both Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin to begin the frame. Of course it comes down to Alex Rodriguez. Why wouldn't it? He defies the Stadium crowd's expectations by lining a base hit to right field, giving Curtis Granderson a chance now. If he can get on, then Swisher could tie the game up with a long one. However, he falls behind 1-2, even with some crazy lady hollering wildly in the stands. I can hear her on the radio. It's scary. More scary is the fact that Granderson strikes out swinging, ending the game.
The Yankees are shut out 3-0, and they now head to Detroit for Game 3 on Tuesday. They get to face defending AL MVP Verlander! Joy. Well, Phil Hughes outdueled him once earlier this year. Just hope he does it again and the Yankees can scratch out a run.
Matt F. will have a full recap up in a little while. Stay tuned.
Hiroki Kuroda' only at 89 pitches to start the inning, so he heads back out for the eighth. I'm not sure if I've ever seen the entire Yankee rotation look so great with the offense looking so horrible at the same time. It's really something and those men on the mound deserve so much better. Kuroda makes Jhonny Peralta his 10th strikeout victim of the day. Unsatisfied, Kuroda gets Alex Avila too on a called strike three, a wicked two-seam fastball that moved over to the top of strike zone. 11 strikeouts now for Kuroda, but Omar Infante singles up the middle. That sends Joe Girardi to the mound. However, Kuroda convinces Girardi to let him stay in to fact Austin Jackson. He's now at 100 pitches, but he still feels like the best option, especially given the weariness of the bullpen after last night's marathon.
Jackson singles to right field on 1-1 pitch, but Swisher fires behind the runner to nab Infante at second. Unfortunately, second baseman Jeff Nelson butchers the call and he's safe. Great. #RobotUmpsNow. This is ridiculous. We see on replay within seconds that he was clearly out, but can't implement the correct ruling? Foolish. Kuroda departs after 7.2 sterling innings. Look at this garbage. Not even close.
Boone Logan comes in from the 'pen, and Avisail Garcia in to pinch-hit for Berry. Of course he makes the blown call hurt by singling to right field to score Infante. Tigers 1, Umpires 1, Yankees 0. Girardi's gone from the game after arguing the call. I don't blame him, I wouldn't want to be in this game any longer either. Joba Chamberlain replaces Logan, and he gives up a RBI single to Cabrera to make it 3-0. Of course. Pour salt on the wound. New pitcher again! Clay Rapada in. He walks Prince Fielder to load the bases. Of course. Let's try the fifth pitcher of the inning! In comes Cody Eppley to face Delmon Young, and he strikes him out to mercifully end it.
Did I mention it should still be 1-0? Ugh. This is just a joke. Instant replay now. A one-run game is way different than a three-run affair. The Yankees have six outs to play with to try to dent home plate even once. Hope for the best.
Peralta starts the sixth with a base hit up the middle, ending the perfect game and the no-hitter. More importantly, the Tigers have the leadoff man on, and it feels as though any run Detroit scores will feel like 10 runs given the state of the Yankee offense. Avila sends one toward the middle that could have been a double play ball, but Hiroki Kuroda instinctively made a reach for it and nicked it. It goes to Jayson Nix, who makes a good play to throw Avila out at first. Peralta is now in scoring position, so the Tigers will have at least two cracks at taking the lead. Omar Infante fouls a bunt, then grounds out to Alex Rodriguez at third base, holding Peralta at second. Kuroda's not out of trouble yet though; he must get Austin Jackson out, no easy task. After a few pitches, Jackson sends another one to the left side, to "Nixy." Inning over. Phew.
Can Ichiro get something going for the offense in the sixth? Do it for your noble teammate and countryman, Ichiro! He grounds one toward the middle, but Anibal Sanchez fumbles it and Ichiro narrowly beats the throw to first. This seems like a perfect opportunity for Ichiro to get himself into scoring position with a timely steal. Cano is looking to finally break his hitless streak, which has reached the number on his back, 24. He fouls off two changeups, takes a ball outside, then dribbles one toward first with Ichiro going on a hit-and-run. It would have been hard to turn a double play anyway, but at least Cano stayed out of that. He's extended his hitless drought to an all-time playoff worst 0-for-25. Woof.
A runner is in scoring position with Mark Teixeira and Raul Ibanez coming up. These days, it's pretty much an ideal setup since they are two of the only batters doing much of anything. No such luck with Tex, who grounds out to shortstop with Ichiro going to third anyway. The Tigers elect to walk Ibanez, which is probably a good plan since righthanded Russell Martin is coming up. If Russ could come with a thousand-hopper up the middle to bring home a run, this crowd would be ecstatic. He has shown a propensity for big moments this season. Let's see if he can do it again. Sanchez jumps ahead 0-2 on a pair of called strikes. The outlook is bleak. Martin check-swings on a 1-2 pitch and it goes toward Peralta at shortstop, who throws him out. Sigh. Still scoreless through six.
The Yankees will ask Kuroda to give them a seventh scoreless inning on three days' rest. He's only thrown 71 pitches so far, but will face Miggy and Prince this inning. Gulp. Of course the guy I don't think about, Quintin Berry, gets a ground-rule double to deep center. Now the Tigers really have a chance to break the tie with Miggy and Prince coming up, and the outlook is, once again, bleak. HIROK gets ahead of Miggy on two foul balls, throws one in the dirt, and Miggy fouls another one to Martin's mitt. Unfortunately, Russ cannot hold onto it and the at bat continues. These situations are where Miggy made his money this year, leading the AL in RBI. He singles to right field, but fortunately, it's hit too hard for even the speedy Berry to score.
The Yankees must now decide whether or not to play at double play depth for Fielder or go infield in to cut off the runner at the plate. A run would score on the double play, but even a sole run might beat the Yankees today. A strikeout here would be huge if Kuroda can manage it. He throws one up, then gets Prince to chase a splitter outside and foul one low for a second strike. Prince checks his swing on one low that Martin can't hold onto; Kuroda thought he went. Kuroda bounces another one and we've reached a full count on Fielder. The biggest pitch of the game thus far is coming up. STRIKE THREE SWINGING on a splitter out of the zone.
Now, the Yankees can play at double play depth without worrying about the runner on third with Delmon Young at the plate. He's been a thorn in the Yankees' side the past two postseasons. The top pick of the '03 draft fouls a sinker low for strike one, then whiffs on a 93 mph fastball. Young's struck out against Kuroda twice already, and Kuroda would love to give him the hat trick. He fouls one high down the right field line that Tex nearly gets to in the stands, but a fan takes it from him. It's probably for the best though, since Berry would have scored on one that deep anyway. Still 0-2, and Young chops one slowly to short. It might have been possible to turn two, but Cano could not get a throw off. Berry scores to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead, as Cano hurts the Yankees again, this time on defense. What a horrible October he's had. Dirks grounds out to end the inning, but the one run is enough to make fans feel uncomfortable.
The Yankees need just one run to tie the game up and get Kuroda off the hook. He's pitched seven beautiful three-hit innings on three days' rest; it would be a real shame if he took a loss. Three home run hitters will come up in the bottom of the seventh, but it's that same disappointing trio of A-Rod, Grandy, and Swish again. A-Rod lines out to left to begin the seventh, but Granderson walks on five pitches! Is something brewing? One can only hope so. Here comes Swisher. It feels extremely unlikely, but so many people would be ecstatic if he took one out. He falls behind 0-2 within two pitches though, and he strikes out on a breaking pitch. Granderson did swipe second though, so Jayson Nix will have an opportunity to make like Derek Jeter and come up with a huge hit. Sanchez throws two out of the zone to give Nix an advantage. Now he's over 100 pitches and might be getting weary. The count is evened up at 2-2, and goes to full after the sixth pitch, Sanchez's 109th of the day. Ichiro is on deck, so it's up to Sanchez to get the last hitter of the order out without facing the lefty threat. Alas, Nix strikes out swinging and the inning is over. RISPfail strikes again.
It's only a one-run lead for Detroit, but it feels like so much more. There are still two innings to go, though. It's not over.
We head to the fourth, still scoreless. Kuroda looks to keep it that way. AJax obliges by grounding out to Nix at shortstop on the first pitch. For all the people have complained about Granderson and whined for Jackson, he's only 7-for-28 in the playoffs with nine strikeouts. Yes, it's better than Grandy, but not by much. Berry think grounding out to short is a good idea as well, and he sends one toward the middle that Nix spears. One throw later, there are two outs. The fearsome Miggy is up next and takes two sinkers low to jump ahead 2-0. Kuroda's next two sinkers are more accurate, and he gets a strike before Cabrera grounds out softly to his counterpart at third, A-Rod, to end the inning. No strikeouts that inning, but still no baserunners against Kuroda. I've said this already, but he's just brought overwhelming stuff to the ballpark in the Bronx today. Here's one interpretation of him so far below.
Raul Ibanez will start the fourth against Anibal Sanchez. We'll see if he can get something started; he's the best hope the Yankees have right now anyway with Jeter out. He lifts a pop-up in foul territory, but the convergence of Sanchez, catcher Alex Avila, and Cabrera let it drop--it nicked off Avila's glove. Think they'll regret that? A ball later, Ibanez ensures that they will by grounding a ball up the middle for a base hit! Now, Russell Martin will come up with A-Rod on deck. A hit-and-run is botched though, and Ibanez is thrown out at second base. Yuck. That was unpleasant to watch. Martin grounds out, and A-Rod strikes out on a foul tip. Dude can't buy a hit.
Can Kuroda keep up the terrific pitching against the dangerous Prince Fielder? He pops up the second pitch way high that A-Rod corrals near the shortstop position. It was a splitter in the middle of the zone, a great hitter like Prince probably should have done more with it. Alas. Delmon Young up now, and Kuroda gets him to 1-2 on a sinker and two sliders. A couple pitches later, Delmon becomes the eighth strikeout victim of the afternoon as he chases a filthy slider. Dirks then hits one hard up the middle, and it looks like Kuroda's streak of outs is at an end. However, Robinson Cano dives to stop it, gets up, and throws him out! He might not be hitting, but at least he's still one of the best defensive second basemen in the league.
Sanchez starts off the bottom of the fifth by firing two strikes that Granderson just takes. It seems he's always falling behind 0-2 these days. The inevitable occurs when he strikes out on a foul tip. That makes 14 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances so far in the playoffs. Swisher follows with a strikeout of his own and he leaves to a trail of boos. He and the fans in right field have not been getting along lately due to his slump and the overall fan treatment. It really appears as though he's looking forward to skipping town in free agency. Back in the game, Jayson Nix grounds out to third and the inning is over.
#HIROK is still looking for run support, guys, give it to him! In the meantime, he'll just have to keep up his tremendous performance.
Hiroki Kuroda is dealing again in the second, striking out his second Tiger MVP candidate in as many batters in Prince Fielder. The brings up the Tigers' all-time leader in postseason homers, Delmon Young. Sadly, you read that correctly--Young passed Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg with his sixth last night. There's something very depressing about that. Kuroda thinks very little of this, and strikes him out! That's four Ks in five batters already. Right fielder Andy Dirks gets ahead of Kuroda 3-1, but he too eventually goes down on strikes, taking a perfect strike three. Make that five Ks in six batters already. Show no mercy, #HIROK.
Sanchez gets to face the Trio of Slumber in the second: Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher. A-Rod works the count full to lead off the inning. He may have struck out a lot, but he's still much better at making pitchers waste bullets than the similarly slumping Grandy, Robbie, and even Swish. Unfortunately, he goes down on a called strike three anyway. It was Sanchez's first changeup of the at bat. Oh, Ardo. Grandy immediately falls behind 0-2 on two foul balls. It was unfortunate that his ALDS Game 5 outburst didn't carry over into the first game of the ALCS. Maybe it will reemerge today. Never mind, Grandy whiffed. Whatever. At least the fans have realized that A-Rod isn't the only one deserving of boos. I don't advocate booing, but at least be consistent if you're going to do it.
Swish comes up next, takes a ball outside and lines a ball hard toward second. Infante dives to knock it down, but he can't get a throw off, and Swish gets a much-needed single. Nothing comes of it though, as Quintin Berry runs down Jayson Nix's long fly ball to left to end the inning.
Kuroda falls behind Jhonny Peralta 3-1 to start the third, but gets him to ground out on a good sinker. He again falls behind 3-1, this time on catcher Alex Avila, but after a foul ball, Kuroda gets Avila to swing through a sinker for his sixth strikeout in eight batters. Now, he faces 2010 National League All-Star Omar Infante, who takes a slider in the zone, then chases two outside for Kuroda's seventh strikeout in nine batters. Wow, does he look good today. The Yankees are going to need it. Score some runs for this man! Top of the order is coming up in the bottom of the third.
Ichiro tries a drag bunt up the first base line to spark the offense. It's not hit very hard though, and Avila runs it down, throwing Ichiro out in time. It's a nice effort though. Now we see Cano, mired in an all-time Yankee postseason-worst 0-for-23. He would take a hit like Swisher had last inning. He takes two strikes in the zone though to fall behind 0-2. Two pitches later, Cano falls to 0-for-23 on a grounder to shortstop. It's really unbelievable how dramatically Cano has fallen from his scorching final week of the season. Tex ends the inning on an easy grounder to the deceptively-named Fielder at first. Inning over.
Well, here we are in Game 2 with the Yankees taking on the Tigers trailing 1-0 in the series. Although it's only the second game, it really feels that the Yankees need to take this one with Cy Verlander going in Game 3 against #4 starter Phil Hughes in Detroit. Yes, Hughes had a complete game victory over Verlander at Comerica Park earlier in the season, but it's still not an optimistic scenario for the Yanks, especially if they're trailing 2-0 at that point. It would also be good to win their first game without the injured Derek Jeter, if not only to show that they can do it.
As we prepare to start the game, I have learned that according to TBS, Game 2 starter Hiroki Kuroda is actually named Hideki. Fun fact! On a more interesting note, Alex Rodriguez took Jeter's place leading the team onto the field. It doesn't mean much, but it's cool to see.
Kuroda struck out Austin Jackson to begin the game! He's going on three days' rest, but he apparently did not think twice about taking this start, which is great. I remember hearing that Chien-Ming Wang was hesitant about taking his Game 4 start in the 2007 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, and had initially assumed that the start was going to Mike Mussina (it probably should have gone to Moose in hindsight). Wang took the start when Mussina assured him the start was his, but he had nothing and the Yankees lost the series. Kuroda got Quintin Berry on a fly ball, then struck out Triple Crowner Miguel Cabrera to end the inning. Nice start, #HIROK looks sharp.
Trade acquisition Anibal Sanchez takes the mound for Detroit. I remember Sanchez most for breaking that bizarre no-hit drought that lasted from Randy Johnson's perfect game in May 2004 until Sanchez threw a no-no with the Marlins in September 2006. It's crazy to think that the drought even happened considered the incredible number of no-hitters and perfect games that baseball has seen since 2009. Sanchez gets Ichiro and Cano out on ground balls to begin the game, bringing up Mark Teixeira. Tex jumps out to a 3-0 advantage in the count, benefitting from a generous ball three call. Sanchez recovers to get the count full, but Tex smacks one down the right field line for a double! Tex, Ichiro, and Martin have been three starters that haven't been otherworldly like Jeter and Ibanez, but have all been consistent anyway. It's unsurprising that Joe Girardi's trying to keep them together.
Ibanez passes the baton by taking a five-pitch walk, bringing up Martin with runners on first and second. A-Rod is on deck, it will be interesting to see if he comes up with runners on. Sanchez renders the point moot by backhanding a comebacker, throwing Martin out at first. That's just how it's been for the Yankees offense these days--crap luck.
Let's hope for more luck in the second.
Game 2 from Yankee Stadium
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