If the Yankees are coming home to the Bronx Thursday night for a game 5 in this opening round of the American League Divisional Series against Detroit, it will be the pitching that them there. Because of a suspended game 1 Friday in the Bronx, the complexion of this series changed. And if New York is going to do it, their ace, CC Sabathia will be the one to get them to the ALCS next week.
And the heart of their batting order, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira had to produce better at the plate. Teixeira going into Game 3 Monday night was 1-for-7 and if numbers tell the story a .221 career hitter in Detroit, then his bat will remain silent. Detroit Tigers fans have been waiting since 2006 when their team last appeared in the playoffs. Yankees fans are always looking ahead, but this time they can’t depend on A.J. Burnett who was scheduled to pitch game 4, Tuesday evening at Comerica Park.
“You don’t want them to take a 2-1 lead and have them get a chance to close it out,” commented Teixeira Sunday in the Bronx after the Tigers made this an interesting series and a chance to go home and close the Yankees season. However, Sabathia , even if he is not at his best, knows that until the last pitch the Yankees are never facing elimination.
This is a Yankees team that is reliant. Adversity with pitching was a storyline of 2011. And if was not for the strong first half from the innings pitched by Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, and some good pitching in the second half of their division winning season, the Yankees may not have been where they are. “The road to the championship isn’t easy and it never is,” said Rodriguez, who may still be showing effects of a bad hip and sore thumb.
Sore excuses though never seem to hinder the Yankees. They go on and strive to reach the pinnacle of a season. Another World Series championship is in reach if they manage to get by the Tigers, with or without the offense coming from the bats of Teixeira and Rodriguez. It is October and they feel this is where they belong.
It was like this in 2006 when the Yankees and Tigers last met in the ALDS. The Tigers won game 2 and the Yankees would go home. Pitching then got the Tigers to move on, but then New York did not have a work horse in the name of CC Sabathia. He came to New York to win championships and got one in 2009. The mission is to get another ring, just like the five that three of his “Core Four” teammates have, that being Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
Saturday in the Bronx, in the game that resumed, it was evident how Robinson Cano and the rookie pitcher Ivan Nova have become the future of the Yankees. Posada and Jeter had a minimal role in giving their team a 1-0 series advantage. It was Nova who picked up for Sabathia from Friday night, and Cano driving in six runs, and Jeter having a quiet night. Rivera the best post season pitcher out of the bullpen was not needed to preserve the win.
Garcia made some good pitches Sunday to Tigers hitters Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera “They find a way to get a base hit,” he said. “They don’t really hit the ball good, but a base hit is a base hit,” he said. Sure it was a hit. Here and there that produces a run. And Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander, who went against Sabathia again Monday night, caught the attention of Jeter as well as Detroit closer Jose Valverde.
“You think that something good is going to happen good for us, but Valverde is hard enough to score a run off,” said Jeter about the Detroit closer who was perfect, 48 saves and none blown out of the pen this season. And it was Valverde who closed the Yankees down in the ninth inning Sunday, after a Nick Swisher home run made things a little more interesting.
Yes, this is a battle for the Yankees to advance against either the Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay in the ALCS. Before the season commenced in late March that sting of losing to Texas last October in the ALCS was still lingering in their thoughts. This time though, with rain in the Bronx that became a factor, it is two names in Detroit that have the potential of New York not seeing Texas again.
Verlander, the potential Cy Young Award winner and Valverde, the 2011 version of Rivera out of the pen can send the Yankees home to the Bronx, but not to chase another pennant and world championship.
Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com