DETROIT (MCT) — Alex Rodriguez was searching for a way to say the Yankees weren’t dead yet in this AL Championship Series, despite being down two games to none.
And then he came up with the money quote.
“Look, we’ve been through stretches like this all year,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a very volatile stock market for us this year.”
Maybe A-Rod’s pal Warren Buffet could appreciate that analogy, but the only way these Yanks can avoid a Black Tuesday in this AL Championship Series is to quickly mass produce some hits and run – starting against Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander on Tuesday night in Game 3 at Comerica Park.
“This is a best-of-seven, not a best-of-three,” Rodriguez said after Detroit’s 3-0 victory on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. “We won 90-some games for a reason.”
Taking two of three at Detroit would send the Yankees back to the Bronx with a chance, though it’s a steep task for a slumping lineup that must now face the Tigers’ two best in Verlander and fellow right-hander Max Scherzer, the Game 4 starter.
And no one has been more challenged against right-handers in postseason than Rodriguez, hitless in 18 at-bats with 12 strikeouts.
“It’s been a challenging year all along,” A-Rod countered. “This team has had to deal with a lot of trials and tribulations and this team has never backed down. And it won’t now.
“I know there’s a lot of doubts out there, but we have tremendous confidence in this clubhouse and our coaching staff that we’re going to come back and play great baseball.”
The Yankees might settle for just decent hitting based on the great starting pitching they’ve received. In their seven postseason games, the starters are averaging 7.2 innings per outing with a combined 2.33 ERA.
“I’ve said it all season, the reason we had the year we did is because of our pitching,” Mark Teixeira said. “We’ve had guys step up all year long when we’ve needed them to.”
But the Yankees have scored in just one of the 21 innings in this ALCS, and that’s in two home games — before Verlander has cast his shadow the mound.
“It’s a fun challenge. You have to beat the best and he’s obviously the best,’ Teixeira said, putting a sunny spin on a tremendously hard task. “We’ll have a chance to see what we’re made of.”
That was essentially manager Joe Girardi’s take, even before he re-jiggered a Game 2 lineup missing the injured Derek Jeter.
With the captain sidelined for the season due to a fractured left ankle suffered in Game 1, Girardi installed Ichiro Suzuki and Robinson Cano as his 1-2 hitters, while elevating Teixeira, Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin into the 3-4-5 spots.
Nothing has helped Cano, whose 0-for-26 slide is the longest single postseason hitless streak in Yankees history.
“All I can do is stay positive,” Cano said. “I know we’ve got a great team. This is not about one guy.”
Even Tigers manager Jim Leyland seemed astounded, “because you know the Yankees are going to break out here at some point,” he said on Monday. “That is just a matter of fact.
“We’re just hoping we can keep the Yankees from swinging the bats too good the next few days,” Leyland added. “But you are certainly concerned about it because they are just too good (as) hitters.”
Twice before, Leyland’s Tiger teams have taken the Yankees out of a playoff series – the ’06 ALDS and last year’s ALDS. The Yankees still have ace CC Sabathia on deck for Game 4, though the Tigers have all the advantages now.
“We still have the desire,” Teixeira said. “We just need to get the job done. We’ve done it before.”
Neither club worked out on Monday’s travel day, and Girardi only wanted his team to “rest, rest.”
Rodriguez (3-for-23, 0 RBI this postseason) and Nick Swisher ( 4-for-26, 1 RBI) had even suggested that this might be a good time to go traveling – even to spacious, pitcher-friendly Comerica Park – after two straight losses and a less-than-friendly Stadium vibe.
“It doesn’t get much tougher than Verlander,” Martin said. “But it doesn’t really matter much at this point. We’ve just got to find ways to win, whatever it is.
“Somebody’s got to step up.”