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ALCS Game 3: Baffling

October 17, 2012

Cano (AP)

I’m not sure what I’ve seen through the first 3 games of the ALCS, but I’m positive I’ve never seen it before.  On the one hand our pitching has been unbelievable.  One of our biggest questions entering the postseason was how well our rotation would fare against the potent offenses of the American League, and they have completely exceeded expectations.  No one on our staff, from the rotation to the bullpen, has had a single blowup inning, much less an outing.  We have not allowed more than 2 runs in any inning of the first 8 games of the playoffs.  In the ALDS the Orioles never mustered more than 3 runs in any game.  The Tigers have managed just 9 runs in regulation over the first 3 games of the pennant.  If you told me that stat before the series I’d have guessed we were up 2-1, and looking pretty good with CC going in game 4.  Instead, the Bombers have wasted their best postseason pitching since the last 3 games of the ’96 World Series with anemic performances at bat.

Justin Verlander was his usual dominant postseason self last night, mystifying the Bombers over 8 innings, but yet again, our pitching staff gave us a chance, allowing just 2 runs over 8 innings.  When Eduardo Nunuez led off the 9th with a fantastic, 9-pitch at bat culminating with a home run, hope was not yet lost.  When Phil Coke replaced the Tigers’ ace, that hope grew a bit more.  When Teixeira and Cano, down to their last strikes, hit back-to-back singles we had a legitimate chance to tie the game as Raul Ibanez came to the plate.  But sadly, the best story line in Major League history did not come to fruition, and despite working a full count our recent hero went down on a tough curveball to end the game.  2-1.

Things don’t look good right now, even I’ll admit that, but if there is any hope to be had here’s where we’ll find it.  We have our ace going tonight in CC Sabathia.  If he can pitch the way he did in his first 2 outings of the postseason we’ll once again have a chance to win.  Then, if we can scratch one out in game 5 we’ll be heading back home with a hefty chunk of momentum.  Those are big ifs right now, especially with a team ALCS batting average of .182, but with a 3-0 lead Detroit has to win this series.  Losing the series would be unthinkable.  That means every win we get will put serious pressure on their shoulders.  And let’s be honest, I don’t care how bad we have looked on offense over the last 2 weeks, there is still the possibility of Yankee magic.  It wouldn’t even take a lot at this point, an extra hit or 2 in some cases.  Our pitching has been masterful, all we really need is for the bats to go from nauseatingly-anemic to below-average and we may win game 4.  Bottom line, every game is our season right now, and if we can see each one as a challenge in and of itself and not look at the seemingly bottomless hole we are in, we are still good enough to do this.  We have seen first-hand what it takes.  Maybe we can replicate it.

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