Start spreading the news: The Yankees won't make it back from Detroit.
After a meek 3-0 shutout loss, the Bronx Bombers are staring down the gun barrel at a quick elimination from the ALCS. Aside from Jose Valverde's latest meltdown, New York has failed to score a run in 20 1/3 innings. They are missing their captain, their familiar postseason leaders (Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera) and any semblance of a spark offensively.
Going to Comerica Park where Detroit was one of the best teams in baseball this year, it doesn't bode well for New York. To get to their ace C.C. Sabathia, the Yankees have to rely on the right arm of Phil Hughes Tuesday night. The problem is, he's facing Justin Verlander, fresh off of his best career playoff start, a four-hit masterpiece to eliminate the Oakland A's.
It would be really simple to lay blame here. Swisher, Granderson, Martin and especially Robinson Cano—none of them are hitting. But you know what? Credit should be due to Detroit's pitching. Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister were superb in these first two games. And the Tigers have a shaky bullpen, but Phil Coke did a good job finishing Game 2. The key hits have been made by Detroit. Plain and simple, they have dominated these first two games.
With three on the road, the character of this bunch of Yankees will be on full display. Will they go meekly into the chilly Michigan night? Or will they fight back and at least make the Tigers beat them? After these first two games, it is clear that someone on the best team money can buy has to step up, or the sons of Steinbrenner will be watching another World Series from home.
So, it's (once again) on you, Mr. Hughes. There is a strong possibility you might have to go the distance to get a Game 3. Who knows, it may not matter with the way Verlander looked in his last outing.
But unlike their last time down 0-2 (in 2001 vs. Oakland), the Yankees don't have familiar faces to lean on. These mercenaries have wilted so far. If they don't stand strong Tuesday night, it's all but a guarantee that yet another Fall Classic will escape their grasp.