The Detroit Tigers took a commanding 2-0 series lead over the New York Yankees on Sunday with a shutout at Yankee Stadium. After their dominating performance in Game Two, the Tigers look to close out the American League Championship Series at home for a trip to the World Series.
Before the series began on Saturday, the Yankees were favored to advance to the Fall Classic. They led the American League in wins, and were set to face a Tigers team that ended the regular season with the seventh-best record in the AL.
Seven games into the 2012 playoffs, New York looks nothing like the team that won 95 games. While their pitching has been very good, the Yankees offense has underperformed at an alarming rate.
Do the Yankees have a chance to come back and win the ALCS?
New York’s batting order has given little indication that the series will return to the Bronx. Unless the club turns things around in a hurry, this may be a very short series.
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In seven playoff games, the Yankees are hitting just .205 with a .277 on base percentage. That’s a far cry from their .337 OBP during the season that ranked them second in the MLB.
Several New York players are mired in the worst slumps of their career.
Nick Swisher has continued his poor postseason play from years past. The outfielder is hitting .154 with one extra-base hit. For his playoff career, he is an incredible 1-for-34 with runners in scoring position.
Future Hall of Famer Alex Rodriguez has failed to break out of a major slump. He has just three hits in 23 postseason at bats. Rodriguez been particularly bad against right-handed pitchers, striking out 13 times in 19 hitless at bats. Rodriguez fared much better against righties in the regular season, but his lack of production in the playoffs has been an enigma.
Curtis Granderson has the most home runs in baseball in the last two years, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the playoffs. He has 14 strikeouts and just three hits.
Robinson Cano’s struggles may be the most difficult to explain. While Swisher and Rodriguez have historically struggled in important games, Cano had recently thrived in the playoffs. In 14 games between 2010 and 2011, he hit .333 with six home runs and 15 RBI.
After finishing the regular season with 24 hits and 39 at-bats, Cano is in the midst of the worst slump in postseason history. The second baseman hasn’t gotten a hit in his last 26 at bats.
Offensively challenged teams have been able to have success in past postseasons, due to dominant pitching. The Yankees pitchers have been exceptional, but have had trouble overcoming the team’s offensive woes. A 2.38 team earned-run average hasn’t been enough to keep New York above .500 this postseason.
With Derek Jeter going down with an ankle injury, New York has very few hitters to rely on. Seemingly, the Yankees best chance to win a game is to keep it close and hope for late-game heroics by Raul Ibanez.
Despite an anemic offense, the Yankees still have time to turn things around. If they can win two out of three games in Detroit, the Yankees would head back to the Bronx with a chance to close out the ALCS at home.
Players like Swisher, Cano, Rodriguez and Granderson have a track record of success, and are certainly capable of getting hot. With the Tigers sending their ace to the mound in Game Three, however, the Yankees will likely be watching the Fall Classic from home for the third straight year.
Justin Verlander will face Phil Hughes on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET in Detroit.