Pick any cliché you like to describe the dire circumstances facing the New York Yankees as they head into this one, it’s pretty certain to apply. Down two game to none, on the road, and facing the best pitcher in baseball, the team from the Bronx sure does have its clichés firmly up against the wall.

Oh, and Phil Hughes on the mound, Cano and Granderson struggling mightily, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher benched, and, again, Verlander.

Funnily, though, Jim Luttrell of the New York Times points out that back “on June 3, Hughes pitched a four-hit complete game, and Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez hit home runs against Verlander in a 5-1 Yankees victory. Go figure.”

A-Rod’s dinger in that game was one of three total, among eight hits, that Rodriguez has hit off Verlander in his career.

The flip side of that issue is, of course, as Luttrell explains, that “he is also 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitching this postseason.” And, as you may have heard, Raul Ibanez has been rather fantastic so far, almost exclusively against right-handers. Hence A-Rod’s place on the pine– not whatever funny business he was up to last night.

Swisher– a switch hitter– gets a spot on the bench in place of Brett Gardner, who will be much better suited to patrolling Comerica’s spacious environs. What he’s going to be capable of producing with the bat is a giant question mark, considering he’s had so few at-bats this season, but it’s not like replacing Swisher and the four hits he’s managed through 30 playoff plate appearances is some kind of monumental rolling of the dice.

Still, though, you’ve got to hand it to Girardi and his two giant, brass binders.

Via the LoHud Yankees Blog he goes on:

“If I stay the same people say, what are you doing? You’ve got to make some changes. People are going to have their opinions all along on what our lineup is, but we’ve moved our lineup around before. I’ve got Chavy playing today, and I did it in Game 5 [of the division series]. We weren’t panicking then. We’re not panicking, but we’re trying to create some runs and scratch some runs across.”

And hey, maybe Joel Sherman of the New York Post has a point when he reminds us that the 1996 Yankees went down 0-2 at home against an Atlanta Braves club with “three Verlanders” and still managed to come back and win the first of their five Jeter/Rivera-era World Series’.

It’s baseball. Anything can happen.

Here is the ever-shifting lineup for the visitors:

B. Gardner LF
I. Suzuki RF
M. Teixeira 1B
R. Cano 2B
R. Ibanez DH
R. Martin C
E. Chavez 3B
C. Granderson CF
E. Nunez SS

P. Hughes RHP

And here, via Brooks Baseball, the pitch usage chart for Hughes in 2012.

And here’s the familiar-enough looking lineup that the drivers-seat-sitting Tigers will send out:

A. Jackson CF
Q. Berry LF
M. Cabrera 3B
P. Fielder 1B
D. Young DH
A. Dirks RF
J. Peralta SS
A. Avila C
O. Infante 2B

J. Verlander P

And this is  what we can expect Verlander to throw by situation (also via Brooks Baseball).

Buckle up!


Image of the view from what was once home plate at Tiger Stadium via Jordan Bastian.