No team needed an off day on Monday more than the New York Yankees.
The Yankees' offensive woes from the ALDS have followed them into the ALCS and after Sunday's 3-0 loss, they now find themselves down 0-2 in the series and heading to Detroit, where on Tuesday will face perhaps the best pitcher in baseball in 2011 MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.
Oh, and they'll have to do it without Derek Jeter, too.
"It's definitely not an ideal situation," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "We'd rather be up 2-0 and facing a Triple-A pitcher. That would be nice. But we've done it all year. A lot of people counted us out. It seems like we thrive on coming back."
Rodriguez has seemingly become the face of the Yankees' struggles, but he is nowhere near alone in shouldering the blame for this mess. Sure, he's 0-for-17 with 12 strikeouts against righties this postseason, but Curtis Granderson is hitting .115 with 14 strikeouts, Nick Swisher is batting .154 and Robinson Cano has been so bad it's now reached historical proportions.
In all, the Yankees offense is hitting .202 and the lineup has mustered just seven earned runs in 43 2/3 innings thrown by opposing starters. Also, the fans' wrath is not limited to just A-Rod anymore, either, as everyone got their share of boos on Sunday.
"That's the last thing I ever thought would be in this ballpark: that people would get on you that bad," Swisher said. "Especially your home, man, where your heart is, where you're battling and grinding all year long. It's just frustrating, man. You never want to be in that spot. It's not like you're trying to go out there and do bad on purpose.
After another 0-for-4 effort on Sunday, Cano is now the only player in major league history to go hitless in 26 straight at-bats in a single postseason. He is 2-for-32 this postseason with one run scored and four RBIs, all coming in the ALDS.
"It is odd," manager Joe Girardi said. "You know this is a really, really good hitter that is struggling right now, and he's not getting a lot of pitches to hit."
What makes Cano's slump even more puzzling is the fact that there wasn't a hotter player entering the playoffs. Over his final nine games of the regular season, Cano hit .615 with three home runs, 14 RBI and seven doubles, including a 4-for-4, two-homer perhaps on the final day to help the Yankees secure the AL East crown.
"You just have to keep swinging," Cano said. "You keep playing the game, and that's the only way you can turn it around."
Cano may be carrying his offensive problems into the field as well. The usually sure-handed second baseman lost the grip on the ball when trying to turn what would have been an inning-ending double play in the seventh inning of Game 2. Instead, Detroit scored its first run of the game on the play.
"That's the same way I would always turn a double play," Cano said. "I didn't get a grip on the ball."
Girardi was ejected after a play at second base in which it looked as if Cano applied a tag to Omar Infante who was trying to get back to the bag after a double. Replays showed that umpire Jeff Nelson got it wrong on a play that would have ended the inning. The Tigers, though, tacked on two more runs after that.
"Yeah, it's frustrating," Girardi said. "I don't have a problem with Jeff's effort, I don't, because he hustled to get to the play. But in this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it's got to change. These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure. It is a tough call for him because the tag is underneath and it's hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right. Too much is at stake."
The woeful offense ruined yet another terrific showing from a New York starter, as Hiroki Kuroda carried a perfect game into the sixth and struck out 11, although he was charged with all three Tigers' runs.
"It's tough. You can't ask for any more from our starters," said Yankees catcher Russell Martin. "They've been doing a great job. Offensively, definitely, we have to pick up the slack and put some runs on the board to take pressure off our pitching. It's not going to be an easy task coming up ahead."
It's hard to imagine the Yankees getting themselves right against Verlander, who has won his last six starts and has posted a minuscule 0.64 ERA during the span. But even without Verlander, the Tigers are sitting pretty, as 19 of the previous 22 teams to take a 2-0 lead in the ALCS have advanced to the World Series.
"We're not in a great position, definitely not," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "I don't think anyone is happy about what happened the last two days, but we do have a day off (Monday) to kind of clear our heads, refocus on the job that we have to do -- because if we don't get it done, the season's going to be over."