Pitching is supposed to win baseball games. It’s just that old adage that goes hand-in-hand defense wins football games and one man can’t win a basketball game without the other four.
But then again, great pitching won’t win you anything when the offense can’t score.
The New York Yankees bats are dead. At this point, they couldn’t hit a beach ball. So whether or not the Yankees postseason rotation is carving up hitters is irrelevant. As long as the bats continue to swing and miss, no one will remember this postseason as one of the best for Yankees starting pitchers. And that just sucks.
Including the five Division Series games against the Baltimore Orioles, Yankee starting pitchers have strung together seven consecutive quality starts. Seven. If you’re bad at math that’s one for each game of the 2012 postseason. Only once has the starter gone less than seven innings (Phil Hughes: 6.2 IP, 1 ER), and only twice has the starter given up more than two runs (Andy Pettitte: 7 IP/3 ER; Hiroki Kuroda 7.2 IP/3 ER). As a whole, they have been flat-out dominant, providing the necessary innings a badly fatigued bullpen needs, and stymieing the powerful offenses of the Orioles and now the Detroit Tigers.
Any reasonable fan would think that baseball’s #1 offense should be able to score three or four runs a game to provide some positive results for all the work the pitching staff has put in. Nope. Not even close. The Yankees got lucky against Baltimore – it came down to one team making more mistakes than the other – and have been absolutely unwatchable against the Tigers. I mean it, I can barely blame the fans for not shelling out the cash to go to the Bronx and watch professional hitters treat their at-bats like they’re living out a game of MLB the Show. I think it’s safe to say that these two ALCS games are the worst I’ve ever seen the Yankees play offensively. It’s like they turned into the San Francisco Giants overnight.
And let’s be honest here – it’s not just Alex Rodriguez either. Sure, he deserves a ton of the blame because he has had an abysmal postseason, but he’s not alone. It’salso Curtis Granderson slowly whittling away at that eight or nine digit contract he was in line for for next offseason. And it’s Nick Swisher’s shtick losing the minimal appeal it once held. And most surprisingly, it’s Robinson Cano harking back to half-a-decade ago when he was known as a streaky hitter with a consistent lack of focus and lackadaisical approach to the intensity of October baseball. You can pin the blame almost anywhere on the Yankees lineup, top to bottom, as long as you exclude the resurgent Ichiro Suzuki, the fallen Derek Jeter, and the folk hero Raul Ibanez. I’ll even give Russell Martin a pass because he hasn’t had a day off in what feels like a month. But there is a limit to what can be classified as a “slump” and what is purely a mental issue at this point. The Yankees are psyching themselves out before they even step into the batter’s box.
You can’t win if you don’t score. And with strikeout machines Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer taking the hill for Detroit in games three and four respectively, it looks like Motown could be bringing out the brooms and sending the Yankees home much earlier than expected. I doubt anyone would be surprised or find ways to spin the Yankees performance as something to build on for 2013, either. If anything, it could be the real sign that the Yankees have finally started to erode irrevocably.