It’s been a strange ADLS for the New York Yankees
A team regularly criticized for never having a “playoff” rotation has been absolutely lights out on the mound. A team regularly feared for having a prolific offense has been completely dominated the better part of four games by opposing pitching. Two extended rain delays, two games of 12 innings or longer, two come backs, two letdowns.
The Yankees have scored in nine out of 43 innings so far against the Orioles. With 13 total runs, six of them have come against the Bird’s closer, Jim Johnson, in his limited work and five of those came in one outing. New York has not scored more than two runs against any Baltimore starter. It has scored more than one run in an inning just once. Game Five is a position the Yankees want to be in despite a checkered past of deciding games in the five game playoff rounds.
The Bronx Bombers are 2-4 in deciding fifth games and have never beaten any team other than the Athletics since 1995. Losers of two straight tie-breakers, the Yankees lost as recently as last season at home to the Detroit Tigers in the deciding game and will face the same fate if not for a difference maker.
If the Yankees win, it could very well be because CC Sabathia refused to let them lose. New York’s ace has been dominant down the stretch and came one out short of a complete game during his Game One victory. Though he didn’t pitch as deep, Jason Hammel held New York to just two earned runs in just under six innings in Game One.
The boys in pinstripes hold almost every advantage in Game Five outside of recent deciding game history. They will play the game in New York and the Yankees have a superior starter on the mound with less tax on the bullpen. All Yankee starters have pitched into the seventh inning and all of them have recorded quality starts.
But if the Yankees go home it will be because of the offense more than likely. Robinson Cano is pressing and though he looked slightly more confident in Game Four, Alex Rodriguez is close to an automatic out. Curtis Granderson is hopeless with nine strikeouts and just one hit in the series. Nick Swisher has been hitting the ball hard to no avail and nobody else seems able to hit with runners in scoring position.
Orioles’ manager, Buck Showalter, likely will not hesitate to turn to his bullpen very quickly if Hammel struggles, and fellow starter, Chris Tillman, has still not been used in a game since Joe Saunders was given the nod Thursday night. If the Yankees want to get a win, someone is going to have to have a big hit.
Will it be Cano? Can it be the obvious pick in Derek Jeter, who has continued to hit even on one leg? Maybe Ichiro will leave his mark on his second ever postseason.
Of course, late in the game it’s impossible to predict if Raul Ibanez will launch one into the night after his historic performance in Game Three.
One thing is for sure, the Yankees need to find a way to scratch a few runs and lean on its ace one more time. The team is already at a disadvantage having to use Sabathia Friday evening since he could have been starting Game One. If New York wins, Justin Verlander and Sabathia both may not be available until Game Three.
If CC doesn’t come through one more time, it may “get dark early out there” in the Bronx.