Listless offense has Yankees in 0-2 hole

Listless offense has Yankees in 0-2 hole

Listless offense has Yankees in 0-2 hole
NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda came back on short rest for the first time in his career and summoned the energy to provide an 11-strikeout effort, but it was the Yankees' hitters who once again appeared fatigued in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.

Anibal Sanchez limited New York to just three hits over seven scoreless innings, taking advantage of the prolonged brownouts through the Yankees' batting order as the Tigers posted a 3-0 victory on Sunday, claiming a 2-0 lead in the series.

Things don't get any easier from here; not with Justin Verlander waiting ahead in Tuesday's Game 3 at Comerica Park. Unless the Yankees win twice in Detroit, Sunday's nine innings will comprise the last game played at Yankee Stadium this year.

"It's definitely not an ideal situation," Alex Rodriguez said. "We'd rather be up 2-0 and facing a Triple-A pitcher. That would be nice. But we've done it all year. A lot of people counted us out. It seems like we thrive on coming back."

If the Yankees are to win their 41st AL pennant, they'll need to overcome history. Nineteen of 22 previous teams to take a 2-0 lead in the ALCS have advanced to the World Series, and the most recent club to overcome the deficit was the 2004 Red Sox, who did it against the Yankees by digging out of a 0-3 hole.

"We're not in a great position, definitely not," Mark Teixeira said. "I don't think anyone is happy about what happened the last two days, but we do have a day off [Monday] to kind of clear our heads, refocus on the job that we have to do -- because if we don't get it done, the season's going to be over."

The first Yankees postseason game without Derek Jeter on the roster since Game 5 of the 1995 AL Division Series turned ugly in the late innings, as the home crowd booed several targets in the underachieving lineup and customers left their seats while Tigers lefty Phil Coke was working on the final outs.

As strange as it may sound, after fighting so hard to secure home-field advantage through a 97-win season, the Yankees seem to be looking forward to their arrival in Detroit, as it represents a change of scenery from their New York struggles.

"A lot of bad stuff has kind of happened in a short amount of time," Nick Swisher said. "Obviously we lose our captain, we lose these first two games at home. It might be nice to get out of here and get to Detroit and hopefully pull out some wins over there."

That wasn't any fault of Kuroda's, as the veteran right-hander responded to the challenge of being pressed into duty sooner than usual and retired the first 15 batters he faced before Jhonny Peralta's single opening the sixth inning.

"He was outstanding today," catcher Russell Martin said. "For a while there, I felt like he was going to throw a no-hitter. He had great stuff, great command and good composure out there. You really can't ask for anything more than what he did."

With the Yankees flailing to muster support behind Kuroda's sharp effort, Detroit finally pushed across the first run of the game in the seventh, and Kuroda knew it might be trouble.

"Looking at some of the games recently, I knew it was going to be really close; I had to minimize the damage," Kuroda said. "Today I knew that it was going to be close, and I had to minimize all the runs that I was going to allow."

Quintin Berry opened with a ground-rule double to center field. Miguel Cabrera followed with a single to right field, and after a strikeout, Delmon Young followed with a grounder to shortstop Jayson Nix that could have been a double-play ball.

The Yankees settled for a run-scoring fielder's choice as Robinson Cano bobbled the transfer. It was another rough moment for Cano, who went on to extend his hitless streak to 26 at-bats, setting a new Major League record for a single postseason.

"I've been swinging good," Cano said. "They're not falling, but that's not the kind of thing that will make me put my head down. I've been in that kind of a situation before."

Detroit added two runs in an eighth inning that included a controversial call at second base that led to Joe Girardi's first career postseason ejection and prompted the skipper's cries for expanded replay.

Austin Jackson laced a two-out single to right field that Swisher fielded, firing to second base behind Omar Infante. Second-base umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that Infante got back ahead of Cano's tag, but television replays showed otherwise.

"I don't have a problem with Jeff's effort, I don't, because he hustled to get the play," Girardi said. "But in this day and age, when we have instant replay available, it's got to change."

The call hurt, as pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia greeted Boone Logan with a run-scoring single to right field.

"From what I saw, I think it was definitely an out," Kuroda said. "As you can see, Cano doesn't really talk to the umpire that much, but he was really out there, talking to him. So that kind of tells you what kind of call that was."

During a subsequent pitching change, Girardi argued the call, and on his 48th birthday, he was greeted with an ejection from Nelson in turning the lineup card over to bench coach Tony Pena.

There wasn't much else to do by that point. Hurt by a listless offense throughout seven postseason games thus far, the Yankees threatened in the sixth and seventh innings against Sanchez, who bent some but did not break.

"We have to make adjustments," Girardi said. "You have to make adjustments. We know what they're doing to us. They're not going to put it on a tee for us. We know that."

In the sixth, with Ichiro Suzuki at third, Tigers manager Jim Leyland elected to intentionally walk hot-hitting Raul Ibanez to get to Martin, who delivered a check-swing roller to shortstop that Peralta bare-handed and fired to first, turning the Yankees aside.

The Yanks threatened again in the seventh, as a struggling Curtis Granderson -- now 3-for-26 in the postseason -- worked a one-out walk and stole second as Swisher struck out, drawing louder boos from the crowd.

That brought up Nix, who battled in a seven-pitch at-bat before waving at a Sanchez changeup to end the inning and the Yankees' best chances to create some positive energy before taking the ALCS on the road for a date with Verlander.

"It doesn't get much tougher than Verlander, but it doesn't really matter at this point," Martin said. "We've just got to try to find ways to win, whatever it is. Somebody has to step up."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.