Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2012 ALCS Game 4 Preview: The Hour Is Getting Late

It's officially do-or-die time for the New York Yankees.  Their backs are against the wall, there is no tomorrow, and they've got to do the impossible.  They have to take it one game at a time, and overcome the odds, but they're playing with house money tonight so all that's left is to go out and do it.

Did I cover all the cliches for the 0-3 hole the Yanks are in?  Good.  Glad that's out of the way.  In all seriousness, the Yankees are in the best possible situation they could be for a must-win game tonight.  They're got their ace on the mound, they've got their 2 best relief pitchers rested and available for 2 innings apiece if needed, and they've got a lineup that at least showed the ability to battle last night against the best pitcher on the planet.  That doesn't change the fact that a win tonight only guarantees them one more day of must-win-ness, but it's something.

It's as simple as it could possibly be.  The Yankees need to win tonight or their season is over.  No stats needed to support that, no arguments for or against anything, and no looking ahead to the next situation.  Win tonight or it's curtains.

Updated Starting Lineups (4:25PM)-

NYY: 1) Ichiro- LF, 2) Swish- RF, 3) Cano- 2B, 4) Teix- 1B, 5) Ibanez- DH, 6) Chavez- 3B, 7) Martin- C, 8) Gardner- CF, 9) Nunez- SS

DET: 1) Jackson- CF, 2) Infante- 2B, 3) Cabrera- 3B, 4) Fielder- 1B, 5) Young- DH, 6) Peralta- SS, 7) Dirks- LF, 8) Garcia- RF, 9) Laird- C

Pitching Matchup-

CC Sabathia (17.2 IP, 12 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 16 K in 2 postseason starts) vs. Max Scherzer (5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K in 1 postseason start)

This Opposite-Field Hitting Situation Is Bullsh*t

The taking of hittable pitches, the popping up of hittable pitches, the swings and misses at balls way out of the strike zone, the glaring lack of power, and the constant shuffling of bodies is all frustrating enough when you watch the Yankee offense right now.  But to me the most maddening thing has been their continued stubbornness in not adjusting to the Tigers' pitching strategy and failing to take outside pitches the other way.  What is the deal?  Has everybody just gotten that bad at staying back on the ball and taking it to the opposite field?  Has Kevin Long turned every left-handed hitter into a pull-only baseball robot??  I refuse to believe that, but let's go to the numbers:

I knew it!  I know for a fact that Chavez hit an opposite field HR against the Tigers in their own park earlier in the year, and I watched Cano hit one over the Green Mawnstah.  Teix has pretty much given up on it, and C-Grand and Raul's numbers aren't pretty, but the other guys can get it done.

It's not like this group doesn't have the ability to go the other way; for whatever reason they're just not doing it in this series.  The Tigers' pitchers have executed their game plan and are just straight up taking the Yankee lefties to school.

2012 ALCS Game 3 Thoughts & Afterthoughts: DET 2 NYY 1

(I feel ya, guys.  Courtesy of the AP)

Justin Verlander is a great pitcher 25 hours a day, 8 days a week.  The Yankee hitters are beyond terrible right now.  On paper this was a decidedly one-sided matchup going into last night's game, and that's what scared me.  The Yankees were dying to score some runs, anyway, anyhow, and they had to face the pitcher who's hardest to score them against.  He wasn't even at his best, like he was in Game 5 of the ALDS when he closed out Oakland, but he was plenty good enough to beat this team and put them on the brink.  Valiant effort by the relief corps backing up an early-exiting Phil Hughes, but an effort that was once again in vain.  The fat lady isn't singing quite yet on the 2012 New York Yankees, but that bitch sure is humming loud.