10/17/12 2:25 AM ET
Five keys for Yankees to turn tables in ALCS
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
But New York hasn't even come close to playing to its capability. And the mere fact that there is more baseball to play means there's still a chance.
But to turn the tables on the Tigers and come all the way back from an 0-3 deficit, it is imperative for the Yankees to do the things that got them here.
Without further ado, here are the top five things the Yankees need to do to at least make this a series.
Score first, then score some more: How anemic has New York's offense been in the ALCS? Through the first three games, the Yankees have scored zero runs in innings one through eight. A four-run ninth in Game 1 and a run in the final inning of Game 3 made the outcomes more interesting. But the Yankees, as is glaringly apparent, can't live like that.
They need to do what they've yet to do in any of the 30 innings in this series -- take a lead. The Yankees have a strong 1-2 punch of David Robertson and Rafael Soriano for the eighth and ninth, but they've been unable to use that to their advantage.
Grind the pitcher, a la Nunez: Perhaps sensing their backs were just about to be firmly pressed against the wall, the Yankees finally started putting together some good at-bats in the ninth inning of Game 3. It started with Eduardo Nunez, who finished a nine-pitch at-bat against Justin Verlander with a home run.
Perhaps that is telling enough, when Nunez is the player putting together the best at-bat of any Yankee. But perhaps some of his teammates will follow in Game 4 and put the type of relentless pressure on the opposing pitcher for which the Yankees are renowned.
"Everybody in here wants to win," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "That's the one common thread that we have as a team. We all want it so bad. Sometimes you try too hard when you want it too bad. I don't want to speak for anybody, but I've been in plenty of situations during my career where if you have one or two games bad in a row, you try even harder the next one. It just doesn't happen for you.
"This is a game, sometimes it's better to play without caring and play almost stupid. Forget the consequences, forget what's going on and say, 'I'm just going to go out there and try to have fun and whatever happens, happens.'"
Find a way to contain Young: The Yankees have, for the most part, stopped Prince Fielder. They've at least kept Miguel Cabrera in the ballpark. But the one player who continues to victimize them is Delmon Young.
The outfielder has two homers in the series and is hitting .308. It's time for their pitchers to develop a better scouting report on Young and make sure he's not the one creating havoc. They have enough other problems.
Be more consistent in the field: At a time when the offense is struggling mightily, the Yankees can't afford breakdowns on defense. Nick Swisher had his share of them in Game 1. Robinson Cano lost the handle on a possible double-play ball in Game 2. Eric Chavez made a costly error in Game 3. Also in Game 3, Curtis Granderson got a bad break on an RBI double by Cabrera.
Put the bat back in A-Rod's hands: Yes, Alex Rodriguez has been one of the many hitters for the Yankees to hardly register a pulse in the postseason. But with Derek Jeter down for the rest of the season, the Yankees need as many impact players in the lineup as possible. A-Rod can't emerge from his slump when he's on the bench, as he was in Game 3. And his replacement Chavez didn't do any better, going 0-for-3 and making an error.
Even when A-Rod is in a slump, he still brings a fear factor that can make an opposing pitcher nervous. And he could be just one swing away from reversing his fortunes.