Yankees vs. Tigers: What Bombers Must Do to Turn Things Around in ALCS

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IOctober 14, 2012

Oct 13, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher misplays a ball hit for a double by Detroit Tigers designated hitter Delmon Young (not pictured) in the 12th inning during game one of the 2012 ALCS at Yankee Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have a mountain to climb as they look to recover from an 0-2 deficit in the ALCS, now having to face Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers in Game 3.

To make matters worse, the team is in the midst of one of the worst offensive performances in postseason history.

To their credit, guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and the injured Derek Jeter have all made contributions during October baseball.

But as for the rest of the Yankees big hitters: nothing.

Pressure is the most logical explanation for the struggles of Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Clearly there is something in the heads of these players that has them completely inept at the plate.

Looking deeper into it, there is a much less cerebral explanation for why the Yanks bats are crashing and burning.

Before a Yankee fan could even blink, it seemed every hitter on their favorite team was behind in the count, 0-2. That becomes a problem after awhile because it gives a pitcher confidence that he can avoid throwing strikes and still get hitters out.

So with the Yankees being as aggressive as they have been in this year's postseason, they are routinely getting pitches out of the strike zone that a bat can do nothing with. We all know that's why it's called a pitcher's count.

The funny thing is, the Yankees were once a team built on patience at the plate. Bombers hitters would work themselves into a hitter's count by taking pitches and, in the process, wearing down that pitcher.

Getting ahead in the count afforded Yankee hitters more pitches over the plate, especially fastballs. That's how this team hit so many home runs this year. During the season, the Yanks' working of the count was evidenced by their 576 walks as a team, good enough for third-most in the MLB.

As for the ridiculous amount of strikeouts during the playoffs thus far, that is a far cry from the regular season as well. New York finished No. 21 in the MLB in strikeouts as a team.

For a total explanation of these issues against the Tigers, one can only conclude that the pressure of the postseason and the constant scrutiny from fans has these players anxious and overly-aggressive in the batter's box, thus leading them to fall behind on a consistent basis.

Things won't get any easier against Verlander who is a premier pitcher in the sport. When Verlander is on, there are few who can hit him, if any. He can command the strike zone and waste hitters with nasty strikeout pitches.

The only hope the Bombers have is to wait Verlander out to see if his control is off. While that might seem like a reasonable request, it is much easier said than done. The fact that the Yankees have to "hope" for the Tigers ace to be bad says everything you need to know about the fate of this series.

But at this point, it's all this team has left. Everything they are doing now has failed miserably and it's a necessity that the overall approach at the plate changes. If not, the Yanks will suffer another early exit from the postseason, most likely represented by a broom.