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Yankees offense struggles again in Game 4

Bats struggling as pitching strong for both sides
10/12/2012 2:12 AM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Manny Machado scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th inning.(AP)

The Yankees had a golden opportunity in Game 4 to close out the Baltimore Orioles and move on to the American League Championship Series. With all of the momentum riding on the Yankees’ side of the pendulum from the big walk-off win in Game 3, the team failed to strike while the iron was hot. This 2-1, 13-inning loss was a pitchers’ duel from the first pitch to the final out. As well as the Orioles pitchers pitched on Thursday night, however, the Yankees bats were also once again silent.

All season the Yankees have had trouble driving home runners in scoring position. In fact, their .256 batting average in those situations ranked 10th in the American League. That number came from a team that scored 804 runs and hit a franchise-record 245 home runs.

Now the Yankees go into a win-or-go-home situation on Friday night still trying to battle their offensive demons. Even in the two series victories, the Yankees struggled to score throughout each contest. Credit is certainly given to the Orioles’ pitching staff, but when the Yankees are given opportunities to break games open, they have come up short.

“Well, I think there's really good pitching,” Joe Girardi said after the game. “There's guys on the other side that are struggling, too. You're seeing some really good pitching in these four games. With the exception of one inning, I mean, it's been really hard to come by hits. I think that has something to do with it.”

“Obviously we give those guys some credit,” Alex Rodriguez said after the game. “We had plenty of opportunities to do damage and we just couldn't do it.”

A lot of blame seems to be aimed at A-Rod, but he is just one piece of a puzzle that is struggling to be put together.

“I mean how many opportunities did you think we had?” Swisher said after the game. “We didn't exactly have a lot going tonight.”

His point is certainly valid, but the Yankees didn't do much by way of getting on base to create those opportunities. They also were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, so when they had the few opportunities, the Orioles made just enough pitches and the Yankees couldn't cash in on what they had to put an end to this American League Division Series.

A big chance came in the bottom of the eighth, with the Yankees set up with runners on second and third and one out. A-Rod stepped up to the plate against Darren O'Day, and O’Day struck out the struggling slugger.

“I'm thinking just get one run in at least,” A-Rod said after the game. “Get a ball into the outfield and it was a one-run lead.”

Swisher then had his chance with two outs and flied out to right to end the inning and the ultimate chance to put these Orioles away for good. Swisher's out also made him 1-for-his-last-34 with runners in scoring position in the postseason.

Both A-Rod and Swisher complimented O'Day after the game, and rightfully so, as O’Day threw 2 2/3 hitless innings.

The Yankees got a goose egg, 0-for-16, from Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson, and the trio combined leaving 12 men on base. In fact, Granderson is now 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts, Cano is 2-for-18, Swisher is 2-for-15 and A-Rod is 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts in the four-game series. The nine strikeouts for A-Rod and Granderson are tied for third most all-time in division series history.

“I'm chasing a couple of balls out of the zone,” Granderson said of his woes at the plate. “I have to go and swing at more strikes, continue to stay aggressive. That's just a part of not recognizing and attacking pitches I want to hit. For whatever reason it happens to be, it's definitely no reason for pressing by any means.”

The Yankees starting pitching has been wonderful. In fact, in 30 2/3 innings pitched, they are sporting a 2.35 ERA this series, so both offenses have been baffled by these wonderful pitching performances. The pitching is obviously going to be there. With Game 5 come up, however, the Yankees need their bats to come through in the biggest of spots if they want to continue towards their goal of winning a World Championship in 2012.

Follow Joe Auriemma on Twitter: @JoeAuriemmaYES
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