Clearly it was a blown call that was unacceptable in the Tigers eighth inning at Yankee Stadium Sunday in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. Robinson Cano, in his own slump could not change it and neither could Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
But the call with two outs, that led to a two- run Detroit Tigers inning leads to questions about expanding the instant replay rule in baseball, and the continuing failure of the Yankees to hit and score runs.
Replay is another issue that may have to eventually be dealt with. For now, as the Yankees head to Detroit, trailing 2-0 in the best of seven series, their backs are against the wall and Girardi may be out of answers.
There is no telling what the result would have been had the Cano call at second to get Omar Infante went differently. With the Yankees bats going sour at the wrong time, that comeback seen so often in the Bronx during that four-time championship reign has been a futility.
But that call also opened the door for two more Tigers runs. And a one-run game may have been easier for the Yankees to overcome in the eighth inning than trailing by three.
“We have to make adjustments,” said Girardi about his team with a .205 batting average in seven post season games with the Baltimore Orioles and Tigers. “We are more than capable of scoring runs. We have done it before.”
It may mean Girardi sits Nick Swisher and his four hits in 26 at bats, along with eight strikeouts in the post season. Cano, batting .083 is hard to comprehend. However, this was a continuing problem for the Yankees the entire season with a few spurts of enthusiasm coming from their bats in late August and September.
“There is nothing you can do but keep your approach,” commented Cano who batted at a .615 clip at the end of the season. The funk now has him hitless in 26 at bats in the post season, whether or not he is hitting the ball and not getting the hit.
Alex Rodriguez, also a culprit, said it has not been “a good honeymoon.” Meaning this Yankees team has dealt with the adversity with Mariano Rivera going down, his trials and tribulations of dealing with injuries, as well as one or another in the lineup and on the pitching staff.
Plus there was the loss of their captain, Derek Jeter who may need more than a three-month recovery period from a broken ankle.
“The guys want to do it for him. The energy level was good,” said Girardi who admitted it was strange not seeing or putting Jeter on the lineup card, the first time since 1995 that Jeter has missed a post season game.
However, there is very little time to deal with adjustments in the post season, especially with the schedule calling for very few off days this October. Girardi will not be with his team In Detroit, attending the funeral for his father. He wants his guys to take the day off, as much as they want to be with their manager.
“Go win a game on Tuesday,” he said to his team where he will once again be in the dugout.
And with the Yankees facing the arm of Justin Verlander in Game 3, the Detroit ace with the best fastball in baseball, with a post season 083 ERA, the task to adjust will that more difficult for Girardi and the Yankees.
Two calls have gone against them. Saturday night in game one it did not make a difference, but Sunday had the Cano play gone differently who knows if the Yankees would be going to Detroit with the series tied at one apiece.
“It’s frustrating, I don’t have a problem with Jeff’s effort,” commented Girardi about the blown call from umpire Jeff Nelson. The umpire admitted afterwards he blew the call after seeing the replay, saying Infante’s hand did not get in before Cano made the tag.
Major League Baseball administrator Joe Torre also said the call was wrong. But that does not change the call, leading only more meaning for expansion of replay in the post season.
A frustrated Girardi, who was ejected on his 48th birthday made his stance for instant replay expansion.
“But in this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it’s got to change,” he said. “Too much is at stake. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right.”
Right now, Girardi and his Yankees would settle for a win in Detroit. They could get to Verlander but that may be a tough task. The ace, CC Sabathia could be facing an elimination game Wednesday night.
Instant replay is not the issue, nor is the pitching that has given up nine runs in the games with Detroit. Curtis Granderson, Rodriguez, Swisher, and Cano have to do their part at the plate.
Girardi said they need to get it done. That the wrong call does not mean the Yankees would have won the game. Time will tell with three possible games in Detroit
Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com