October 15, 2012
ALCS Game Two Recap: Tigers 3, Yankees 0
The tableau in the Yankees’ clubhouse after ALCS Game Two was telling: in a room packed with high-profile players, the greatest gaggle of reporters was gathered around the team’s hitting coach, Kevin Long. They had just filed in from the interview room, where Girardi had said, “We have to make adjustments.” Now they wanted to know what those adjustments would be. Standing just in front of Derek Jeter’s loudly vacant locker, Long fielded questions about why the Yankees haven’t hit over the first two games of this series or the last four games of the ALDS, and what they planned to do about it. At times, the exchange grew testy.
“Do you get the feeling that they’re taking the pressure into the batter’s box with them, feeling the collective failure?”
“I don’t know, what do you think?”
“You’re the hitting coach.”
It’s easy to see why Long might be a bit sensitive—he’s been nowhere near the batter’s box, but the Yankees’ struggles are still in some sense his own. At the height of George Steinbrenner’s compulsive tinkering with his team, a hitting coach probably wouldn’t have survived a string of playoff games marked by so little scoring. The Yankees, who were widely believed to be the best-hitting team when the postseason started, have batted just .205/.277/.326 in seven games since. And since their five-run outburst against Jim Johnson in the ninth inning of Game One against the Orioles, they’ve hit .191/.254/.307 in 245 plate appearances. That’s a .561 OPS, the same as Dee Gordon’s this season. When Gordon posted a .561 OPS, he lost his job to Luis Cruz. The Yankees would kill for Luis Cruz.
If Long had any answers, he’d have given them to his hitters. So he mostly spouted the usual clichés you hear when a team isn’t hitting—guys are trying to do too much, the Tigers are making good pitches, we are who we are and hopefully we’ll get this thing back on track. Gorged on mostly meaningless quotes, the gaggle dispersed to the far corners of the clubhouse in search of further self-flagellation.