Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/14/12
NEW YORK -- The unfamiliar feeling of the New York Yankees playing a postseason game without Derek Jeter was trumped only by their all-too-familiar inability to score runs Sunday. The Tigers watched starter Anibal Sanchez become the latest pitcher to handcuff the New York lineup, and Detroit squeezed out just enough to beat a masterful Hiroki Kuroda 3-0 at Yankee Stadium. The victory in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series gives the Tigers a commanding 2-0 lead along with the comfort of knowing ace Justin Verlander will be ready to go in Game 3 in Detroit on Tuesday. "He was terrific," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Sanchez. "This is a tough place to pitch with a tough lineup and a short porch. And a whole bunch of left-handed hitters; it is not easy. That was quite a feat." Given the Yankees' offensive woes -- including Robinson Cano's major-league postseason record 26 at-bat hitless streak -- it might not have been as impressive as it once was. The Yankees, playing without the injured Jeter in the playoffs for the first time since 1995, were left reeling by another impotent offensive effort. Jeter broke his left ankle Saturday in Game 1. The humbled Yankees were left with few answers and plenty of complaints. Manager Joe Girardi called strongly for instant replay after a blown call helped Detroit score its last two runs, and led to his ejection, while right fielder Nick Swisher said he was disappointed and "hurt" by the Yankees fans' "negative" reaction. "You know, it is," Swisher said, when asked if it was disappointing after he said fans were getting on him, even blaming him for Jeter's injury Saturday night, which occurred on a play shortly after Swisher lost a ball in the lights. The right fielder, a pending free agent, is 4-for-26 this postseason and 20-for-126 in the playoffs as a Yankee. "It hurts," he said of the fans' criticism. "Sometimes I'm a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, man, they get under your skin a little bit. Hey, man, I've been lucky to be here for the past four years, bro, and we're not going to go out like this. "I'm one of those guys, you give me a hug I'll run through a brick wall for you," Swisher said, when asked about offering much less interaction than the Bleacher Creatures in right field than usual. "Right now, I'm trying to find the right words for it ... it's tough. It's tough. ... If you go up there and get a hit, you might not hear much. But if you make an out, you're definitely going to hear about it. But, hey, that's kind of the way it is here." Sanchez (1-1) was brilliant in limiting the punch-less Yankees to three hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and allowed a runner to reach scoring position in only three innings. With Leyland saying before the game he would not go to struggling closer Jose Valverde in a save situation Sunday, former Yankee Phil Coke pitched the final two innings for his first save of the postseason. "I talked to Phil this morning; I had a conversation with him in my office about possibly closing the game out," said Leyland, who insisted before and after the game Valverde remained his closer and wanted him to work on his confidence and mechanics for now. "'Can you do this?' … Now all of a sudden (Coke) had the responsibility on his shoulders today and he reacted very well." The Yankees have not reacted well at all offensively, with most of their star players putting up woeful numbers. The team that set a franchise record for home runs this season has watched Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson go 8-for-81 in the postseason. That was a far cry from the heady days when Cano finished the regular season 24-for-39 (.615). "There's no explanation for that," Cano said of the contrast. "... I'm swinging good and they're just not falling." The second baseman also bobbled an exchange on a potential inning-ending double play as Quintin Berry came home to score the Tigers' first run against Kuroda in the seventh, after the righty threw five perfect innings to start the game. However, as evidenced by replays, Cano did nothing wrong on the eighth-inning play that eventually allowed the Tigers to add two runs. With two outs, Austin Jackson followed Omar Infante's single with one of his own, but Infante was caught off second. Swisher fired the ball to Cano, who clearly tagged Infante on the chest before the runner returned to the base. Second base umpire Jeff Nelson called Infante safe. Kuroda, who had pitched 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball at that point, allowing five hits, striking out 11 without walking a batter, exited to a standing ovation. Boone Logan then gave up a bloop single to pinch hitter Avisail Garcia to make it 2-0. Girardi was ejected when he argued with Nelson during a pitching change, when the manager called on Joba Chamberlain, who later gave up a RBI single to Miguel Cabrera to make it 3-0. Nelson later acknowledged he got the play wrong, after seeing it on replay and saying he initially thought Infante got his hand on the base first. Girardi said he didn't have a problem with the ump's effort and that he tried to keep him from getting ejected by telling him to "let it go," but he said he couldn't at such a key spot. "In this day and age, when we have instant replay available to us, it's got to change," Girardi said. "… And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right. Too much is at stake." "I just think it's ... yeah, let's have instant replay," Girardi later added. "And not just, not just home run, fair, foul. Let's have instant replay." Kuroda (0-1) far exceeded the Yankees' expectations, as he pitched on short rest for the first time in his major league career. His strong start was helped by Cano's fine backhanded play on Andy Dirks' grounder up the middle to end the fifth. Still, the Yankees' offense remained unable to produce, as Sanchez escaped his few threats easily. Yankees fans chanted for Jeter at the end of their traditional roll call, but the shortstop who fractured his left ankle diving for a ball Saturday night was not in the building. The Yankees announced a CT scan and an MRI confirmed the fracture, adding that the team captain would see a foot and ankle specialist in the next few days. NOTES: Girardi said he started Nix instead of Eduardo Nunez at shortstop because he liked how Nix was swinging the bat. Nix is also considered a better defensive player. Girardi said he would decide day by day which one he would play. ... Girardi said he would stick with right-hander Phil Hughes to start Game 3 and use ace CC Sabathia in Game 4.
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