Rogers pushes Yankees to edge

His 7 2/3 scoreless innings help Tigers get within one win of taking series

Tigers 6 Yankees 0

October 07, 2006|By Jim Baumbach | Jim Baumbach,Newsday

DETROIT -- In only a few days, the New York Yankees have gone from World Series favorites to looking like a bunch of 30-somethings trying to fit in at a high school prom.

And here is what their season has been reduced to: After a 6-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 3 of their American League Division Series last night at the hands of Kenny Rogers, they'll wake up today one loss from another early exit.

If the Yankees play anything like they did last night, when their bats went silent and their defense went sour, they stand no chance of pushing this best-of-five series back to New York.

Jaret Wright gets the ball this afternoon for the biggest game of his team's season opposite Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman.

The Yankees' offense, dubbed "Murderers' Row and Cano" by Tigers manager Jim Leyland earlier this week, again played poorly. Their All-Star hitters went 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position in games 2 and 3. In one 11-inning span in those two games, they failed to advance any of their eight base runners.

"Not much to talk about," Joe Torre said after Game 3. "We didn't do anything."

The Yankees entered the game with a lineup that had a career .391 average (66-for-169) and 17 homers against Rogers. But they went 5-for-27 (.185) in 7 2/3 innings before Rogers, 41, the former Yankee who hasn't beaten them in the regular season since Aug. 17, 1993, left the mound to a resounding ovation.

"I was probably more emotional than I should have been," said Rogers, who was serenaded with chants of "Ken-ny, Ken-ny" afterward by Tigers fans. "That is by far the greatest lineup I've ever faced. I just wanted to win for everyone here."

Said Torre: "You could see the fire in the end. He wanted to finish it himself."

The Yankees' Randy Johnson, 43, pitching for the first time since Sept. 23 because of a herniated disc, allowed five runs, eight hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. But he received little offensive or defensive support.

"We got a little overanxious," Torre said. "We're a better ballclub than that. We didn't do the things you need to do to win. I thought Randy was fine. Offensively, we couldn't do anything."

Everything seemed to fall apart for the Yankees during Detroit's three-run second. Johnson finally broke down in the sixth, allowing two-out RBI doubles by Ivan Rodriguez and Sean Casey to make it 5-0.

Considering how much the Yankees were struggling against Rogers, a five-run deficit seemed insurmountable - and then it became six runs on Curtis Granderson's homer off Brian Bruney to lead off the seventh.

It was hard to place much blame on Johnson in the second. He could have gotten out of the inning with only one run scoring if not for a few bloop hits and some shaky defense.

The inning began with bloop singles by Carlos Guillen and Rodriguez; right fielder Bobby Abreu was about a step short of catching Rodriguez's hit, which put runners at the corners.

Casey drove in Guillen with a ground-ball single to right that trickled just beyond the reach of Robinson Cano, who probably should have been able to get there - or at least dive for it.

That play became even more important when Abreu fired a bullet to third base, beating Ivan Rodriguez by about a step. But he was ruled to have gotten in under Alex Rodriguez's tag.

With Tigers at the corners again, the Yankees almost got out of it. Brandon Inge struck out and Cano and Derek Jeter nearly turned an acrobatic double play on Granderson's grounder. Cano fielded it behind the bag and flipped it with his glove to Jeter, who touched second, did a 360-degree turn and fired to first. The throw barely missed retiring the speedy Granderson as Rodriguez scored to make it 2-0.

That turned out to be enough for Rogers. After Johnny Damon's three-run homer in the fourth inning of Game 2, the Yankees went 11 innings without advancing a base runner. They ended that streak in the seventh last night when Jorge Posada led off with a double and Hideki Matsui grounded to second to move a Yankee to third for the first time in the game. But Bernie Williams struck out and Cano grounded out to end the inning.

Jim Baumbach writes for Newsday. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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