Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do or Die Time In Yankeeland

AP Photo / Alex Brandon
What's happening in Yankeeland right now seems both unimaginable yet, at the same time, predictable. I don't know how you fanatics felt last night, but I went into the game feeling that a loss was on the horizon. Sorry, but this is where the Yankees have left me, and other fans like me, at this point. With very little hope. And that's what's so unimaginable: that Yankees' fans have literally been left with no hope; something that we've always had. On the flip-side, the predictability of the loss comes because the offense has shown no "substantial" signs of improving from game to game.

Getty Images / Leon Halip
But will I say it is over entirely, folks? No. If any team can build momentum from having their backs pushed all the way to wall, it's the Yankees. But the only way this will happen is for the offense to do what it does. Where are the homeruns?? Where are the stolen bases?? Where are the good at-bats?? What's happened to making pitchers work and running up pitch counts??? These are the fundamentals of what make the Yankees such a deadly team, and it's all been lost somehow. Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson look absolutely dead at the plate; no good pitch recognition, allowing way too many "cookies" to pass their bats in the zone. Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano have lacked the control and patience that allows them to see as many pitches as they do, and get better opportunities for pitches they can hit. At least twice in this series, Ichiro has had an opporunity for a stolen base in a crucial situation, and has passed. And with the exception of Raul Ibanez, no one in the entire lineup has the power stroke. And I won't even bother to question hitting with runners in scoring position, because the Yankees haven't done that all season. But on all other fronts, it's as though everything that makes this team pop has just completely disappeared in the postseason. Definitely the worst time possible.

AP Photo / Kathy Willens
And speaking of A-Rod, with the exception of a close childhood friend of mine that I've been going back-and-forth with on this, I have kept relatively quiet on Girardi's decision to bench him. So I will say this: A-Rod is playing the worst baseball of his career right now. He is a shell of the hero we saw 3 years ago. Girardi's decision to play Eric Chavez was both warranted and necessary, in the beginning. But right now, Girardi can no longer justify sitting A-Rod out. Why? Because Chavez has done absolutely nothing in A-Rod's place. Nothing. Chavy is now 0-for-14 with 6 strikeouts, and he committed a costly error last night. If Chavez' struggles are just as bad as the guy who lead you to a World Series just 3 seasons ago, you must now give that guy the chance to come in and make something happen. If Chavez were hitting, I might not like it personally, but I would be alright with him playing for A-Rod. But that's not the case. Fanatics and Yankee haters who can't stand A-Rod can think whatever they want to think about him personally. But as I've stated to many people before, the Yankees do not win a WS Championship without his bat. He proved this in 2009 and he's proving it by default now. No, it's not all about A-Rod, but it's largely about him and how he can turn any game around at any time. Let's face it, none of the superstars on this team except Mark Teixeira are doing anything. So if Girardi continues to put Cano, Grandy and Swish out there in hopes of something happening, he has to afford the same to Alex. At this point, what do the Yankees have to lose by putting him in? But, I'd be surprised if gets to play tonight. He's 1-for-12 against Tigers' Max Scherzer with 4 strikeouts. Could be that leaving him out of last night's lineup was a missed opportunity for this team. But we'll never know.

But all is not lost, fanatics. We saw some good signs in the game last night. Eduardo Nunez looked damn good defensively showcasing his diving play up the middle, and the homerun off of  Justin Verlander in the ninth inning was a sight for sore eyes.  The bullpen has been lights out this entire postseason really, and last night only allowed one run in 5 innings without the help of David Robertson or Rafael Soriano. And Brett Gardner, although hitless, took some good swings last night. I think he has to continue to play and get at-bats while either Swish or Grandy sit games out.  

AP Photo / Carlos Osorio
So tonight, CC Sabathis gets the start. Bottom line is, CC has to be CC and the offense has to dig deep and score runs. Right now, the Yankees' approach has to be that of a 12-step program: just take each remaining game (because I do believe they will win tonight) one at-bat at a time. If the Yankees can pull it together in the next two in Detroit, we'll be looking at a different series. They still have a chance, but the bats have to come alive.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

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