By: Jeff Riger
Omar Infante was out! No doubt about it, the Tigers got a break in the 8th inning on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Second base umpire Jeff Nelson blew a call in the Tigers favor which allowed Detroit to turn a 1-nothing game into a 3-nothing game and now all of Yankee Nation is talking about it. New York folks have been whining about that call, bad umpiring and needing instant replay in general instead of focusing on the real problem; the bats. It’s those bats and stellar Detroit pitching that are the reason the Yanks are down 2 games to none, not the call.
The Yankees flat-out can’t hit!
Over the course of the first two games of the ALCS, New York batters are hitting a collective .192 with a .584 OPS. With Halloween just around the corner, I would say scary is the best word to describe it. That same word could probably also be used to describe the ankle of Derek Jeter that was fractured during Saturday night’s game one. New York’s big bats are anything but as Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Ichiro Suzuki are a combined 10 for 50 with just 4 RBI. (All those RBI coming in one inning against Jose Valverde) Cano himself is 0-25 which is the worst postseason stretch a Yankee has ever gone through. The only New Yorker that is producing at the plate is the ancient Raul Ibanez. The 40 year old is raking at a .429 clip with a 1.600 OPS. But he can’t do it alone.
After game 2, Yankees manager Joe Giradi referenced Nelson’s bad call, explaining how different it would have been for his team to have trailed by only 1 run instead of 3 during New York’s final 6 outs of the game. And, he has a point.
No doubt it was easier for Detroit’s Phil Coke to finish it with the additional 2 more runs to ease his mind but that wasn’t the difference. During those 6 final outs, Coke faced 7 Yankee batters and threw a total of 28 pitches where he struck out Ibanez, Russell Martin and Granderson in the 9th inning alone. Not one of the 7 hitters worked a count to 3 balls and only 2 batters reached the outfield, Suziki hit a shallow pop fly out to leftfield while A-Rod got a single. That was it!
Would being down just a one run during those at-bats change anything? I doubt it!
Stop blaming the call! New York’s Hiroki Kuroda was sensational on Sunday afternoon and did not deserve to have 2 extra earned runs mark up his final stat line. But his team let him down. Detroit got their first run when Cano could not turn a routine double play on a Delmon Young ball and then Boone Logan came on in relief of Kuroda and gave up a RBI to rookie Avisail Garcia on a 0-1 count. Miguel Cabrera then came up against Joba Chamberlain and singled in another run. You can’t really blame anybody for that.
Yes Nelson blew that call at second base, but that is part of the human element of the game. Teams have to overcome situations like that.
Let’s not forget the Tigers overcame similar adversity themselves in game one when their closer Jose Valverde blew a 4 run lead in the bottom of the 9th inning. Detroit regrouped and won that game in 12 innings. It happens.
To blame game 2 on the bad call takes all the credit away from Anibal Sanchez, Coke and a Tigers team that is now two wins away from the World Series.
Yes, the Tigers got a break, nobody is disputing that. However, even without that break, Detroit would have won the game considering the Yankees failed to score a single run. As offensive as that call must have been to Yankee fans, the many New York failed at-bats should offend them more.
I originally predicted the Tigers to win this series in 5. If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to change that to a SWEEP!