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Baseball Insider

Without Jeter, Yankees struggles worse as Tigers go up 2-0 in ALCS

NEW YORK -- With Derek Jeter splitting the day between the doctor's office and his home in Manhattan, there were hopes among all the remaining Yankees that they might raise their game to compensate for the loss of their captain. But, if anything, they lowered their performance.

Almost all the Yankees' remaining high-paid star hitters, supertsar Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez, continued to struggle and in some cases looked even worse, as the Tigers, behind dominant Anibal Sanchez, went up two games to none in the ALCS.

The Yankees find themselves in a massive hole after losing two straight games at home and also their captain, and now they must find a way to break through against baseball's best and hottest pitcher, Justin Verlander in Game 3 at Detroit. Judging by how they were baffled by Sanchez in Sunday's 3-0 loss (and really this whole postseason), the Yankees' chances don't look especially promising against the overpowering, unshakeable Verlander in Detroit.

Jeter was receiving extra medical tests Sunday to gauge whether he needs surgery to repair his broken ankle and will not travel to Detroit with the team. Who knows, he may not want to watch this.

The Yankees continue to say they expect him to be ready by spring training in either case, though other experts say the need for surgery could raise some doubt. At the moment, Jeter's absence is devastating since several of their high-priced stars are mired in perplexing slumps.

The Tigers didn't exactly hit Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda hard but managed to score three late runs with timely hitting and a missed called at second base by umpire Jeff Nelson, who ruled Omar Infante safe returning to second base when replays showed Cano tagged him. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who has enough problems with his own team, was ejected for arguing a second time, presumably after seeing the replay that preceded two Tigers runs.

Yankees relievers Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain each allowed run-scoring hits after the missed call. Girardi and fill-in manager Tony Pena used four pitchers in four batters in the Tigers' two-run eighth as they tried to stop a rally.

Of course, if the Yankees can't hit, it's not going to matter how many pitching changes they make. Sanchez, acquired in midseason from the Marlins, limited the Yankees to three hits in seven innings. While he was in there, the Yankees hit only four balls out of the infield.

It was a nice job by Sanchez, but the Yankees weren't any better against Game 1 starter Doug Fister or most of the Orioles pitchers in the Division Series, for that matter.

Left-hander Phil Coke, the surprise closer, picked up the save. Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced before the game that he was going to employ a closer by committee because Jose Valverde is struggling.

There are culprits, and not only A-Rod, are everywhere for the Yankees. Cano is in an historic hitting slump. Cano ran his current postseason skid to 0 for 26, a major-league record for ineptitude in one postseason.

It's hard to believe Cano's hitting is actually slightly worse than A-Rod, Granderson and Swisher, the black hole (Nos. 6 through 8) in a reconfigured Yankees lineup to accommodate the loss of Jeter and varying degrees of struggle. A-Rod went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts, the hit coming off Coke after he went 0 for 3 against Sanchez. It'll be interesting to see if A-Rod, now 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts vs. right-handers in the playoffs, stays in the lineup vs. Verlander. Since he was 4 for 6 with two home runs against Verlander in 2012, the guess is yes.

Granderson went 0 for 3 with three Ks, while Swisher picked up an infield hit and two strikeouts in three at-bats.

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