Backs to wall, Yankees focused on thinking small

Backs to wall, Yankees focused on thinking small

DETROIT -- With the Yankees at their darkest hour of the season, trailing the Tigers in the American League Championship Series, 3-0, they can draw on the Red Sox, of all teams, for inspiration.

In postseason history, 33 teams have trailed 0-3. Only the 2004 Red Sox lived to tell about it, coming back on, yes, the Yankees.

One of the 25 men on that fabled Boston roster now wears a Yankees uniform. And though Derek Lowe is just a long reliever for the Yankees, he at least is living, breathing proof that a team can come back from this deficit.

ALCS

"You've got to stay positive," said Lowe. "The obvious answer is don't look at the totality of what has to happen. I've been here six weeks, I was there eight years. That team had a special bond and a special attitude about it. Obviously, it can be done. Again, you really have to simplify things and not try to go down negative lane and worry about where you might be tomorrow. Again, it can happen. You have to think small."

Everyone knows that the biggest key to a Yankees' comeback would be a revival of an offense that is beyond dormant. Aside from four runs in the ninth inning of Game 1 and one in the final frame of Game 3, the New York hasn't scored in this series.

"It's surprising that we're not hitting, that's for sure," said Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez. "I wish we had the answer. It's definitely frustrating for us not to at least put a couple of runs on the board."

But perhaps one offensive explosion behind ace CC Sabathia in Wednesday's Game 4 could change the complexion of the series.

"Sometimes, it isn't the guy on the mound. It's just an overall attitude of you really have to believe you can because obviously things are really against you," said Lowe. "It's crazy how this game works. It's like everyone wants to finish a team off when you're up 3-0 and just one small victory, now again, maybe you can get that ball rolling in the right direction."

This is about as unfamiliar a situation as the Yankees have ever faced.

THREE AND OUT?
The Yankees have been swept in all four previous series they've have trailed three games to none.
Year Series Opponent Result
1922 World Series Giants Swept, 4-0
1963 World Series Dodgers Swept, 4-0
1976 World Series Reds Swept, 4-0
1980 ALCS Royals Swept, 3-0

New York hasn't trailed a series 0-3 since 1980, en route to an ALCS loss to the Royals. This is the fifth time in Yankees history they have been in this situation.

In other words, if they can somehow come back, it would be as sweet as anything the Yankees have ever done in October.

"I've been over here for four years now and I've never once felt like an underdog," said Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher.

With the '04 Red Sox, it was Boston's Kevin Millar who went to anyone he could find before Game 4 and said, "Don't let us win tonight. You let us win tonight, we have Pedro [Martinez] in Game 5, [Curt] Schilling in Game 6 and anything can happen in Game 7."

Anything did happen. Maybe the Yankees have someone who will spark them now. Maybe they can play the clip from "Animal House" when Bluto blares, "Nothing is over until we decide it is!"

There was at least a little bit of lightheartedness to be seen in the clubhouse after the Game 3 loss. On his way out the door, Swisher pretended for a second to be part of the pack of reporters interviewing Robinson Cano.

"We just have to be positive and ready for tomorrow," said Cano. "That's the game of baseball. It's not over yet."

Wasn't it a Yankee who trademarked the phrase "It ain't over till it's over?"

Yogi Berra won't play in Game 4, but the Yankees hope to have some heroes of this generation step up. There are a lot of hitters who are due to erupt.

And yes, in this situation, cliches are applicable.

"Just the old one game at a time," said first baseman Mark Teixeira. "We dug ourselves a big hole. Nobody wants to be 0-3 but that's the situation we're in right now. We're going to make the best of it tomorrow -- win one game tomorrow and try to move on."

Lowe saw the miracle once before. Now he will sit back and hope to watch it unfold again.

"It's only happened one time in the history of baseball. It can definitely happen again and you just want that one victory," said Lowe. "As crazy as it sounds, maybe there's a little more pressure that goes on them. They don't want to go back to New York. They want to end it here. Again, just accept where we are and try to win every single at-bat, every single inning, and not try to think about how hard it's going to be to win four in a row."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.