Despite struggles, stats say Yankees could turn things around against Verlander
David LennonDavid Lennon
David Lennon has been a staff writer for Newsday since
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After some exhaustive statistical analysis, it has been confirmed that the Yankees indeed have scored a run off Justin Verlander.
Forty in total, spread out over 13 starts.
Good to know, right? Because the Yankees desperately need something to cling to right now, and after failing to cross the plate during Sunday's Game 2 of this ALCS, stringing together a complete lap around the bases was beginning to take on the feel of the New York City Marathon.
Obviously, with Verlander starting tonight's Game 3 at Comerica Park, it's not going to get any easier. The Yankees couldn't solve Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez. Assuming their luck will change with Verlander is akin to losing at blackjack, then spending what's left on a Powerball ticket.
"Baseball stinks sometimes," Mark Teixeira said. "Hot streaks and cold streaks -- it's like a broken record, but that's just the way it is. It's not like football or basketball where, even if you don't have it, you can still get the ball down the field and score your points.
"In baseball, if you don't have it, you don't have it."
Verlander is 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA against the Yankees, ordinary numbers for an elite pitcher who is among the favorites to win a second straight Cy Young Award. This season, he was 1-1 against them, and the Yankees dented him for 25 hits, including four homers, in 201/3 innings.
Though that all sounds encouraging, don't put much faith in those statistics. For one, Derek Jeter, a career .361 hitter (13-for-36) against Verlander, will be watching Game 3 from his couch because of the fractured ankle he suffered early Sunday morning.
As for the rest of the Yankees, too many are suffering from fractured psyches. Alex Rodriguez has a .333 average (8-for-24) with three homers off Verlander, but in these playoffs, he's 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts and a walk against righthanded pitchers.
Nick Swisher? Despite a high number of strikeouts against Verlander (20), he's dented him for four doubles and three homers in 55 at-bats. But when Swisher isn't feuding with the Bleacher Creatures, he's batting .154 (4-for-26) with eight strikeouts and one extra-base hit.
Robinson Cano hasn't done much in the past with Verlander, hitting .226, so there's no reason to expect that to change now that he's hitless in his last 26 at-bats, a postseason record. Curtis Granderson's deep-threat capability and the fact that he hits lefthanded are the only things keeping him in the lineup. But with the ALCS switching to pitcher-friendly Comerica Park and Raul Ibañez's clutch production in the postseason -- .438 (7-for-16) and three homers -- Joe Girardi might have some changes in mind.
Girardi couldn't hide his frustration after the Yankees were shut out Sunday to fall behind 2-0 in the series. At first, he deflected attention away from his lost lineup by using the stage to advocate instant replay, but he later admitted to being astonished by their offensive futility.
"We know what they are doing to us," Girardi said. "You have to make adjustments. They are not going to put it on a tee for us. We know that. We are more than capable of scoring runs and have done it a number of times this year."
That's true. The Yankees scored 804 runs during the regular season, second in the majors to the Rangers. Based on what happened to Texas, however, that statistic doesn't mean a heck of a lot right now.
A-Rod mentioned that a change of scenery might help. Yankee Stadium has become quite hostile to the home squad. "If I were them,'' he said, "I'd be perplexed, too."
Everyone is. But if the Yankees can't fix the problem starting Tuesday night, it's no mystery where they will be headed very soon: home for a long winter.