Results tagged ‘ Miguel Cabrera ’

Soriano named AL Player of the Week

It should surprise no one that Yankees left fielder Alfonso Soriano was named American League Player of the Week for the period ending Aug. 18. Soriano went on one of the most amazing tears in one week in the game’s history.

Sori, who was acquired by the Yankees in a July 26 trade from the Cubs for minor-league relief pitcher Corey Black, batted .484 with nine runs, one double, five home runs and 18 RBI in seven games and 31 at-bats. The Yankees were 5-2 during that stretch as they fight to get into position for a playoff berth.

It marked Soriano’s seventh career weekly award. His previous honor was in the National League for the week ending May 18, 2008 with the Cubs. He won three AL Player of the Week Awards in his first stint with the Yankees, the last of which was for the week ending Sept. 21, 2003. Among Major League Baseball leaders for the past week, Soriano paced all hitters in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage (1.000), hits (15) and total bases (31), and was tied for first in runs scored.

Soriano went into the game of Aug. 13 against the Angels at Yankee Stadium battling a 1-for-16 slump and broke out of it with three hits, including two home runs and a career-best six RBI in a 14-7 Yankees victory. He topped himself the next day with a 3-for-3 game against the Angels that included two more homers and a new career-best seven RBI in an 11-3 Yankees victory.

Sori established career highs in RBI in two straight games and in the process became just the third player in major-league history to collect at least six RBI in consecutive games, joining the Rangers’ Rusty Greer in 1997 and the Brewers’ Geoff Jenkins in 2001. It was the third time in his career that Soriano had multi-homer games on back-to-back days.

After getting four more hits in an 8-4 loss to the Angels Aug. 15, Soriano took his hot streak to Boston’s Fenway Park where the night of Aug. 16 he went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI to lead the Yanks to a 10-3 victory over the Red Sox.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Soriano’s 18 RBI over the four-game stretch from Aug. 13-16 matched baseball’s all-time mark for the most RBI in a four-game period since it became an official statistic in 1920. The others to do so were the Cardinals’ Jim Bottomley in 1929, the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig in 1930, the Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri in 1936, the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio in 1939 and the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa in 2002.

Other noteworthy performances last week included the Tigers’ Max Scherzer (18-1, 2.82 ERA), who became the fifth pitcher since 1912 to win 18 of his first 19 decisions in a season, and his teammate Miguel Cabrera (4 HR, 10 RBI); Twins pitcher Andrew Albers (two-hit shutout against the Indians Aug. 20); Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (.409, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 2B) and White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (2-0, 2.81 ERA, 1 BB, 14 K).

In recognition of his AL Player of the Week Award, Soriano will be awarded a watch courtesy of Game Time, the leader in licensed sports watches, available at MLB.com.

Gardner saves Rivera again

Brett Gardner came to Mariano Rivera’s rescue again. The way Gardner looked at it, a Yankees hitter picking up Mo was due for all the game’s greatest closer has meant to the team the past 19 seasons.

“I think Mo has bailed us out quite a few times,” Gardner said. “Things like that happen.”

Well, not quite. Rivera had never blown three consecutive save opportunities before the past five days nor had he ever allowed two home runs in a save opportunity. That was the case Sunday when trying to nail down a 4-2 victory over the Tigers Mo gave up solo shots to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez that tied the score.

“There’s always a first time,” Rivera said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff; just go out there and do my job. The last three opportunities, I haven’t done it. You have to continue battling.”

But in the last two of those blown-save situations, the Yankees came back to win the game with Gardner getting the climactic hit each time. Friday night after Cabrera stunned Rivera with a two-run bomb over Monument Park in the top of the ninth, Gardner won it for the Yankees with a single in the bottom of the 10th. Sunday it was Gardner who put the Yankees over the top again with his first career walk-off home run, off Jose Veras.

“That’s the first time I ever hit a walk-off homer and might be the last,” Gardner said. “I’ve had a couple of seeing-eye singles, up the middle and through the left side, but never a home run like that. It felt good. It didn’t matter if it was me or somebody else; we just needed to get a win today. I was glad we made it happen.”

It was a happening all right. The Yankees won two of three games from the club with the best record in the American League. It was the first winning series for the Yankees since July 5-7 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Before Sunday, the Yankees had endured eight consecutive non-winning series (five losses, three splits), their longest such stretch in 22 years.

Gardner’s walk-off homer was the second of the season for the Yankees. The other was by Ichiro Suzuki June 25 against the Rangers at the Stadium. Gardner’s eight home runs are the most he has hit in one season. With 23 career homers, the Yankees are 20-3 in those games.

Rivera allowed two home runs in a game for the fifth time in his career and the first time since May 7, 2009 to the Rays’ Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Sunday was the first time Mo was taken deep twice in a save opportunity, however.

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, the fewest runs he has allowed in a game since June 8 at Seattle and the fewest in a game at the Stadium since April 4 against the Red Sox. The run off Pettitte came in the first inning, marking the eighth straight start in which he has been scored upon in the first inning, equaling a franchise-record streak by Javier Vazquez from April 3 to May 15, 2011.

With his first home run of the season, Alex Rodriguez passed Stan Musial into fifth place in career RBI with 1,951. It was career homer No. 648 for A-Rod, who is 12 behind fourth-place Willie Mays on the all-time list.

Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run (No. 20) in the fourth inning was his 2,000th career hit. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that Soriano is one of four players who made their major league debuts with the Yankees in the past 60 years to get at least 2,000 career hits, joining Derek Jeter (3,308), Bernie Williams (2,336) and Don Mattingly (2,153). Sori also joined the Red Sox’ David Ortiz as the only players to hit at least 20 homers in each of the past 12 seasons (2002-13).

David Robertson allowed a solo home run to Brayan Pena at the start of the eighth inning. It ended D-Rob’s 20 1/3-inning scoreless stretch dating to June 19. Robertson still has a streak of holding opponents hitless each of their past 23 at-bats with runners on base.

More Stadium woes for Hughes

The mystery of Phil Hughes continued Saturday at Yankee Stadium. For the third straight start, Hughes failed to last long enough to qualify for a winning decision, which he has not had in six starts dating to July 2, in the Yankees’ 9-3 loss to the Tigers.

Hughes was up to 99 pitches by the time he was removed from the game one out into the fifth inning. The righthander had six strikeouts and did not walk a batter, but he hit a lot of bats. The Tigers lashed out seven hits, including four for extra bases, off Hughes, whose season ERA is a mere decimal point below 5 at 4.99.

Over his past six starts, Hughes is 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. He has allowed 35 hits, including eight home runs, over that stretch. The Stadium continued to be a scary place for him. Hughes is 1-8 with 16 home runs allowed and a 6.18 ERA this season in the Bronx compared to 3-3 with six home runs allowed and a 3.67 ERA on the road.

“He has had a hard time keeping the ball down,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They put a lot of long at-bats on him. They [Tigers] have some guys that can do real damage.”

The Yankees could not maintain the momentum from Friday night’s uplifting victory in extra innings to exonerate a rare second straight blown save by Mariano Rivera. The first batter who faced Hughes Saturday ended up on third base.

What a series Austin Jackson is having. The Tigers center fielder had three doubles in a four-hit game Friday night and followed that Saturday with a first-inning triple and a fifth-inning home run. Jackson is 6-for-10 (.600) with five runs, three doubles, one triple and one home run in the series. He has a series slugging percentage of 1.400!

Miguel Cabrera, who stunned Rivera with a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth, went deep again off Hughes in the third inning. He has been no slouch in the series, either, with five hits in 10 at-bats (.500), including two home runs. The defending American League Most Valuable Player and Triple Crown winner has driven in four runs and scored three.

Cabrera has made a habit of beating up on the Yankees. In 45 career games against them, Cabrera is batting .367 with 11 doubles, one triple, 17 home runs and 43 RBI in 166 at-bats. In 15 games at Yankee Stadium, Cabrera is a .404 hitter with two doubles, nine home runs and 20 RBI in 57 at-bats.

The Yankees were in a 6-0 hole before Lyle Overbay got them on the board in the fifth with a two-run home run off Anibal Sanchez. Yet just when it seemed the Yankees would make a run against the Tigers, Detroit moved further ahead the next inning on Torii Hunter’s three-run home run off Joba Chamberlain. Overbay knocked in the Yankees’ third run as well with a two-out single in the ninth.

Overbay, who also walked, was the only Yankees player to reach base multiple times. His home run (No. 13) was his first at the Stadium since July 10 against the Royals.

The Yankees bullpen allowed five earned runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings, the most runs allowed by the relief corps since June 1 against the Red Sox (six earned runs) and the fourth time relievers have allowed at least five runs in a game (also five earned runs April 3 against the Red Sox and May 15 against the Mariners). Overall, Yankees pitchers allowed 17 hits, one shy of their season high. This was the fourth time giving up at least 17 hits in a game and the second against the Tigers (also 17 hits April 6 at Detroit).

The Yankees got only three other hits off Sanchez (10-7), who walked one batter and struck out eight in his seven innings. Around that time fans in the stands starting doing the wave. There is no greater sign of disinterest.

Notes from a walk-off victory

The Yankees’ 4-3, 10-inning victory Friday night was their fourth walk-off triumph of the season. The others were June 25 against the Orioles and July 28 against the Rays. The Yanks have won consecutive home games in walk-off fashion for the first time since Sept. 21 and 22 last year against the Athletics.

The walk-off hit for Brett Gardner, a single to left field, was the fourth of his career and his first since June 16, 2011 against the Rangers. In the fifth inning, Gardner got his 20th stolen base of the season to reach that plateau for the fourth time. He also had 26 steals in 2009, 47 in 2010 and 49 in 2011.

The Yankees’ victory ended Detroit’s 12-game winning streak. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last previous time the Yankees defeated an opponent on a winning streak of at least 12 games was in August 1995 against the Red Sox.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova, who was in position for the victory until Mariano Rivera blew the save in the ninth inning, gave up one run, eight hits, two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch with seven strikeouts in seven innings. The righthander became the first Yankees pitcher to toss at least seven innings and allow no more than three earned runs in six straight starts since CC Sabathia did so in eight straight starts June 15-Aug. 1, 2011 and the first right-handed Yankees starter to do so since Mike Mussina in six consecutive starts April 9-May 7, 2003. Nova has held opponents scoreless in 19 of his past 21 innings.

Rivera sustained his second consecutive blown save after allowing a game-tying two-run home run to Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera with two outs in the ninth (also Wednesday night at Chicago). Mo has blown back-to-back save opportunities for the first time since April 19 and 24, 2011 and had a streak of 23 consecutive converted save opportunities against Detroit dating to July 8, 1999 ended.

Disabled first baseman Mark Teixeira will ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange Monday.

Yanks overcome Mo’s 2nd straight blown save

Miguel Cabrera may not win a second consecutive Triple Crown, but a second straight American League Most Valuable Player Award is not out of the question. In a remarkable at-bat in the top of the ninth inning in which he twisted his left knee and fouled a ball off his left shin, Cabrera stayed upright enough to power a 2-2 cutter from Mariano Rivera into the netting over Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park in center field for a game-tying home run.

It was the 34th homer of the season for Cabrera, who hobbled around the batter’s box throughout the at-bat. He leads the AL in batting (.360) and RBI (108) but is a distant second in home runs (by seven) to Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. The home run also scored Austin Jackson, who doubled with one out for his fourth hit and third two-bagger in the game.

That was the second straight blown save for Rivera, who also gave it up Wednesday night at Chicago, but only his fourth in 39 opportunities this year. In such situations, looking back at missed scoring chances haunted the Yankees, who had one hit (a double by Robinson Cano in the third inning) in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Major culprits were the 4-5-6 hitters – Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, who were a combined 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in regulation.

Ironically, it was that part of the order that helped construct the winning rally in the 10th when Cabrera’s lack of mobility played a part in the Yankees’ 4-3 victory that ended Detroit’s 12-game winning streak.

Jayson Nix, who replaced Rodriguez defensively at third base in the ninth, led off the 10th with a walk. He began the at-bat with a bunt down the third base line based on testing Cabrera’s wobbly left leg that went foul. Granderson followed with a single to right. A key play was a wild pitch by Al Alburquerque, the Tigers’ seventh pitcher, on a third strike to Lyle Overbay that served the same purpose as a sacrifice.

That forced the Tigers to walk Eduardo Nunez to load the bases to create a situation where there was a force at every base. Alburquerque got a big strikeout of Chris Stewart before Brett Gardner punched a single to the left of Cabrera, who dived for the ball but could not stop it. It was the third hit of the game for Gardner, who also scored twice and stole a base.

It was an important victory for the Yankees coming off four straight losses to substandard clubs (Padres, White Sox) and guaranteed that their record cannot fall below .500 in this series against one of the league’s powerhouses.

Yanks’ pitchers stumbling out of gate

Much of the concern about the 2013 Yankees has centered on the offense, what with the loss of 194 home runs in players gone from the 2012 team and the season-opening injuries to four key position players – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. What the Yankees were counting on to offset the lineup changes was quality pitching. Yet it is the pitching that has been a main culprit in the club’s 1-4 start.

Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Tigers was the latest example of shabby pitching. The Yankees were hoping for a boost from Phil Hughes, removed from the disabled list and thrust into the rotation over David Phelps, who returned to long relief. Well, Phelps got into the game anyway because Hughes lasted only three batters into the fifth inning and was hit hard – four runs (three earned) and eight hits.

Boone Logan, the Yankees’ lone lefthander in the bullpen, had another troublesome outing against Detroit’s left-handed hitters. Friday, he yielded a three-run home run to Prince Fielder, who was the first batter Logan faced again in the fifth inning Saturday. Logan kept Fielder in the park this time, but a single gave the Detroit first baseman his sixth RBI of the series. Logan gave up an RBI single later in the inning to another left-handed hitter, Andy Dirks.

The Yankees came back from a 5-1 deficit to make it a one-run game by scoring three runs in the sixth. A tiring Max Scherzer walked Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis to start the inning and yielded a single to Travis Hafner that resulted in the righthander’s departure. Al Alburquerque walked Vernon Wells to load the bases, but Brennan Boesch lined into a double play. After another walk, Alburquerque gave up a two-run single to Lyle Overbay.

Just when the Yankees got back into the game, Phelps failed to produce a shut-down inning and allowed two runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Tigers began to pull away again. Joba Chamberlain, whose ERA is a glaring 21.60, was wild (two walks, one wild pitch) in allowing a run in the eighth.

The Tigers finished with 17 hits, including four by Miguel Cabrera and three apiece by Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter. It could have been worse for the Yankees, but Detroit had 4-for-15 (.267) with runners in scoring position.

The amount of hits Yankees pitchers have allowed is alarming – 61 in five games, an average of 12.2 knocks per game. Opponents are batting .339 in 180 at-bats against the Yanks. Meanwhile, Yankees hitters are batting only .219 in 160 at-bats. They do have six home runs (Wells got his second of the season Saturday), so the power outage expected has not actually materialized, but the offense has been unable to compensate for the pitching problems. The Yankees have been outscored, 33-17. Detroit relievers have combined for seven scoreless innings against the Yanks the past two games.

Staff ace CC Sabathia gets the opportunity to be a stopper Sunday in the series finale at Comerica Park. One major hurdle, however, is that the Tigers’ scheduled starter is Justin Verlander. It is a dream matchup of former American League Cy Young Award winners, and the pressure is on CC to turn the staff in a positive direction.

Tigers deal early KO to CC

CC Sabathia had been every inch of his 6-foot-7 frame the Yankees’ ace down the stretch of the regular season and in the American League Division Series. What better guy to have on the hill to avert an early exit in the AL Championship Series than the big lefthander whose career record in postseason play for the Yanks entering Game 4 Thursday at Detroit was 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA?

Yet after coming within one out of pitching two complete-game victories over the Orioles in the ALDS, Sabathia’s lone outing in the ALCS was nowhere near up to par. He was hit often and hit hard, and his fourth-inning exit trailing 6-0 was a disappointing sight to Yankees fans.

They had been able to rely on him most of the year, especially in that complete-game gem CC tossed six days ago at Yankee Stadium to finally shake the Orioles off the Yanks’ tail. He even had an extra day’s rest because of Wednesday night’s rainout, although that may not have been to his advantage, since it meant Sabathia could not come back and start Game 7 if the Yankees were fortunate enough to push the series that far.

One of the six runs Sabathia allowed in his 3 2/3 innings was unearned due to an error by first baseman Mark Teixeira, but CC was not at the top of his game. The Yankees had not had the lead in this series and trailed right at the beginning of this game as well when Sabathia gave up a run on two-out singles by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young.

The unearned run came in the third, but Sabathia recovered by getting out of a bases-loaded jam. The next inning, however, CC was lit up on two-run home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta before yielding a double to Andy Dirks that ended his day. As bad as 6-0 looked, it could have been a lot worse, considering the Tigers stranded eight runners over the first four innings.

Yanks face 0-3 deficit for 4th time in postseason play

The Yankees trail in the American League Championship Series, 0-3, for the first time in 10 ALCS appearances since the advent of the best-of-7 format in 1985. It is the fourth time in 71 postseason series that the Yankees have trailed 0-3. The other times were all in the World Series, in 1922 against the Giants (which included a Game 2 tie), 1963 against the Dodgers and 1976 against the Reds. In each case, the Yankees lost in four games.

This is the fifth time in 27 ALCS under the best-of-7 drill that a team has taken a 3-0 lead in the series. The only team to rally from 0-3 to win the ALCS was the 2004 Red Sox against the Yankees. Each of the other three teams to go down 0-3 were swept in four games – 1988 Red Sox, by the Athletics; 1990 Red Sox, by the A’s; 2006 A’s, by the Tigers. . .In each of their six ALCS, the Tigers have won Game 3, with all six games coming at home: 3-0 against the A’s in 1972; 1-0 against the Royals in 1984; 7-6 against the Twins in 1987; 3-0 against the Athletics in 2006; 5-2 against the Rangers in 2011 and 2-1 against the Yankees in 2012. The Tigers have won five of their past six ALCS games in Detroit.

Tigers Game 3 starter Justin Verlander ran his consecutive postseason shutout innings streak to 23 before he allowed a run in the ninth inning of Game 3 on the home run by Eduardo Nunez. It was the first home run Verlander yielded in the ninth inning of his career, postseason included. Nunez was the 85th batter the Verlander has faced in the ninth inning in his career. The Yankees did not score in 20 straight innings before Nunez’s homer. They were also shut out in 20 straight innings in the 2000 postseason against the Athletics (ALDS) and Mariners (ALCS).

Robinson Cano ended his streak of hitless at-bats at 29 with a two-out single in the ninth inning. It was the longest postseason hitless stretch in franchise history. The MLB record is 42 straight hitless at-bats by Mariners catcher Dan Wilson. . . Eric Chavez has started the 2012 postseason without a hit in 14 at-bats, which ties the longest streak by a Yankees player at the start of a postseason. Graig Nettles began the 1981 postseason with 14 hitless at-bats. The major-league record for hitless at-bats at the start of a postseason is 22 by the Cardinals’ Dal Maxvill in the 1968 World Series against the Tigers.

Alex Rodriguez, who was on the bench in Game 3, was not the only player with 600 or more career home runs to sit out a postseason game for which he was eligible. There were three others – Ken Griffey Jr. (Game 2 of the 2008 ALDS for the White Sox against the Rays), Willie Mays (Games 1 through 4 of the 1973 NLCS for the Mets against the Reds and Games 4 through 7 of the 1973 World Series for the Mets against the A’s) and Jim Thome (Games 1 and 5 of the 2012 ALDS for the Orioles against the Yankees). Babe Ruth played in all four games of the 1932 World Series for the Yankees against the Cubs, the only postseason series of his career that came after he hit his 600th home run. Barry Bonds played in all 17 of the Giants’ postseason games in 2002 and all four Giants’ postseason games in 2003, the only two postseasons to come after his 600th homer. Henry Aaron and Sammy Sosa did not play on teams that advanced to postseason play following their 600th home runs.

Through eight postseason games this year, the Yankees are batting .200 in 290 at-bats. The previous low-water mark for the Yankees’ first eight postseason games was .207 in the 1921 World Series against the Giants, which was then a best-of-9. Only two Yankees teams have finished a postseason with lower batting averages, the World Series clubs of 1962 (.199 in a 7-game victory over the Giants) and 1963 (.171 in a 4-game loss to the Dodgers). . .Through eight postseason games, the Yankees’ team ERA is 2.25, which would be the 10th-best for a single postseason in franchise history. It is the lowest mark since the team’s 1.60 ERA in the Yanks’ 5-game World Series victory over the Reds in 1961.

Miguel Cabrera’s fifth-inning double extended his LCS hitting streak to 16 games, dating to the 2003 National League Championship Series for the Marlins, breaking the previous mark of 15 straight LCS games with hits by Pete Rose and Manny Ramirez. . . Cabrera has reached base safely in all 19 career postseason games with the Tigers. His streak set a franchise record, passing the 18-game mark of Hank Greenberg from Oct. 3, 1934 to Oct. 4, 1945. During the 19-game streak, Cabrera is batting .303 with seven doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI, 10 runs scored, 16 walks and one hit batter in 66 at-bats. Only one player in history began his postseason career with a single team with a longer streak of reaching base – Boog Powell, who reached base in his first 25 postseason games with the Orioles from 1966-71. Cabrera has failed to reach base in two of his 36 career postseason games with the Marlins and Tigers.

Delmon Young has five home runs over consecutive postseason series against the Yankees – the 2011 ALDS and 2012 ALCS. Young is one of only five players with a combined five home runs in consecutive postseason series against the Yankees. Duke Snider did it three times (4 HR in 1952 World Series, 1 HR in 1953 World Series, 4 HR in 1955 World Series, 1 HR in 1956 World Series). The others are George Brett (3 HR in 1978 ALCS, 2 HR in 1980 ALCS), Juan Gonzalez (5 HR in 1996 ALDS, 0 HR in 1998 ALDS) and David Ortiz (2 HR in 2003 ALCS, 3 HR in 2004 ALCS). Chase Utley (2008 World Series) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1995 ALDS) each hit five home runs in one postseason against the Yankees, but they have not faced the Yankees again in the postseason.

Backache forces Hughes to make early exit

The Yankees’ string of quality starts in postseason play came to an abrupt and painful end in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series when Phil Hughes was forced to come out of the game while pitching to his third batter in the fourth inning. It marked the first time in this postseason that a Yankees starter did not pitch into the seventh inning.

Hughes allowed only one run – on a home run by Tigers designated hitter Delmon Young – in three-plus innings, so the ERA of the Yankees’ rotation did not grow much, from 2.33 to 2.68. But the early exit pushed manager Joe Girardi into his bullpen far sooner than he anticipated. The Yankees used four pitches before the fifth inning was completed.

Yankees starters had averaged 7 2/3 innings pitched in the first seven postseason games. Except for the home run, Hughes had pitched fairly well. He walked Andy Dirks, the batter after Young homered, but got ahead 0-2 in the count on Jhonny Peralta before his back acted up. Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit to the mound and decided they could not entrust so crucial a game to a hurt pitcher.

Eric Chavez, who started at third base over Alex Rodriguez, committed an error in the fifth that proved costly. Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove winner, could not handle a spinning grounder by fleet Quintin Berry on the short hop. Miguel Cabrera made the Yankees pay for the miscue with a double to right-center off David Phelps that made the score 2-0.

Chavez atoned for his boot the next inning with a splendid, back-handed stop of a hot shot by Cabrera with the bases loaded to start an around-the-horn double play that ended the threat. The twin killing illuminated third base coach Gene Lamont’s conservative call to stop Omar Infante at third base on a single by pinch hitter Avisail Garcia preceding the Cabrera at-bat.

Not a happy birthday for the Skipper

Joe Girardi, who certainly did not have a good time on his 48th birthday, was understandably upset with the second straight bad call by a umpire on the bases Sunday night. The problem with much of his argument in the case of ALCS Game 2 was that the Yankees did not score at all. The two runs the Tigers scored after the missed call in the eighth inning surely hurt, but they did not cost the Yankees the game. No team can win a game, zero to minus-one.

The Yankees fell behind 0-2 in the ALCS with a 3-0 loss, which was not the scenario they would want heading into Game 3 Tuesday night at Detroit against Justin Verlander, the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner and a Cy Young Award candidate in 2012 as well.

The Yanks need a big game from Phil Hughes like the strong effort he gave them in Game 4 of the AL Division Series against the Orioles to get back into this series. That will not be enough, however. The Yankees have gotten above-average work from their starting pitchers during the postseason. Hiroki Kuroda was the latest example Sunday. He flirted with a perfect game for five innings, and those two runs in the eighth that were charged to his record were definitely tainted.

Yankees starters in the seven postseason games have pitched to a 2.33 ERA in 54 innings, but their record is a combined 2-2 with three no-decisions, due primarily to scant run support. The Yankees have scored 11 runs from the ninth inning on in postseason play but only nine runs in innings one through eight. They have been shut out in the first eight innings of both games in the ALCS and were flat-out shut out in Game 2.

It was not the sort of game the Yankees wanted the day after losing their captain, Derek Jeter, for the rest of the year to an ankle injury. Jayson Nix did a nice job in the field at shortstop but was 0-for-3 at the plate. I am not singling him out by any means. If the Yankees need Jayson Nix to save their season, they are in more trouble than they think they are.

Robinson Cano, who was at the center of the two baseline calls the past two games at Yankee Stadium, had his hitless streak reach 26 at-bats, the longest in postseason history, and only five of those outs have gone to the outfield. In Game 1, Cano was called out on a rally-killing double play in the second inning when replays indicated he beat the throw.

With the margin of error so miniscule, plays such as the one in the eighth inning Sunday become magnified, to the point that a manager got himself ejected. Kuroda got the first two outs on strikeouts before Omar Infante singled to center. Austin Jackson followed with a single to right. Nick Swisher, detecting that Infante had made a wide turn around second but had changed his mind about going to third, threw behind the runner. Second base umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that Infante was safe getting back to second, but replays clearly showed that Cano had tagged Infante near his chest before he touched the bag. The Tigers added tag-on runs with singles by rookie Avisail Garcia off Boone Logan and Triple Crown champ Miguel Cabrera off Joba Chamberlain.

“I don’t have a problem with Jeff’s effort because he hustled to get to the play,” Girardi said. “But in this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it has got to change. These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure. It is a tough call for him because the tag is underneath and it’s hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right. Too much is at stake. We play 235 days to get to this point, and two calls go against us. We lose it by one run [Saturday] night.

“I’m not saying if Robby Cano is safe, that it changes the game. The outcome may be the same, but I like to take my chances. There is more pressure on the pitchers when it is 1 0 in the eighth inning and your club is hitting than 3 0. It’s a lot easier for a reliever to relax. He knows if he makes one mistake, it is still 3 1. The technology is available. That’s what our country has done. We have evolved technology to make things better.”

All right, the argument about using instant replay more often should be continued, and the issue should be taken seriously. What the Yankees need now more than instant replay is to get some clutch hits or they can forget reaching the World Series.

“We have to make some adjustments,” Girardi said. “We have to take what they give us and find a way to put balls in play when runners are on, and get runners in, and get them over, and do the things that you need to do to score runs.”

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