No A-Rod, no Granderson, no Jeter
How can the Yankees expect to avoid elimination in Game 4 today without the active ML leader in career HRs, the 2012 AL runner-up in HRs, as well as their captain?
Enter 290-pound Yankee left-hander, CC Sabathia.
The Yankees’ ace takes the mound today with a 7-1 record in postseason decisions since putting on pinstripes in 2009.
The Yankees’ workhorse also owns a 2-0 record in postseason elimination games, including a complete game, four-hit victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 5 of the ALDS.
In order to stave off elimination for his club once again, he will have to go through Tigers 3B and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who owns a career .385 average against the left-hander.
Making matters worse for Sabathia, Cabrera currently holds a 16-game championship series hitting streak.
In order to keep Cabrera out of the hit column in today’s win-or-go home Game 4 for the Bronx Bombers, Sabathia should rely on his fastball.
According to ESPN’s Stats and Info blog, Cabrera is hitting only .208 during the 2012 postseason against end of at-bat heaters.
In contrast, he’s been teeing off against off-speed pitches with an MLB-best .571 mark.
The Yankees need to do more than obtain a good outing of Sabathia to get back into this series though.
Their bats need to also awaken from their postseason-long slumber.
Coming into Game 4, the Yankees possess franchise lows in batting average (.200), on-base percentage (.265), and strikeouts per game (8.9) for a single postseason of at least seven games.
In addition, the Yankees’ bats are collectively hitting a dismal .182 through the first three games of the ALCS.
For Game 4, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has decided to insert Eric Chavez into the lineup batting sixth and playing 3B along with Brett Gardner who will bat eighth and play CF.
Thus, after last night’s rainout which pushed Game 4 to this afternoon, Girardi stuck to his guns and left both A-Rod and Granderson’s bats out of the lineup in consecutive days.
It won’t be an easy task for Chavez and Gardner or any of the Yankees lineup against hard-throwing Tigers’ right-hander Max Scherzer. The dominant right-hander was second to only Tigers’ ace and 2011 AL MVP Justin Verlander in strikeouts during the regular season.
Scherzer was not dominant, but still rather effective in the start he made in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Athletics last week.
It was his first full start since suffering shoulder weakness on Sept. 18th.
Before the injury, he had allowed a total of seven runs in his previous seven starts while going at least six innings in all of those starts.
The potential of Scherzer being fully heathy again has to be a scary thought for the Yankees who have never come back in a series trailing three games to none.
In fact, they’ve been swept every single time when down 3-0 in a series, with the last time being in the 1980 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals.
As a result, Sabathia, who is undefeated in his past eight postseason starts and beat the Tigers three times during the regular season, might not even be enough to save the Yankees’ season.