Pennant races and postseason play can make for strange bedfellows, as the Yankees today are hoping to take the first step in following the path of the 2004 Red Sox, the same Sox who came back from a 3-0 deficit - the only team in MLB history to do so in any seven-game series - and beat the Yankees.
And as the Yankees play what the first of what they hope is four elimination games, with ace CC Sabathia on the mound and a dash of confidence from last night's ninth-inning rally, they have a member of that '04 Red Sox team among them, pitcher Derek Lowe.
"Obviously, it's tough," Lowe said. "You've got to stay positive, and the obvious answer is don't look at the totality of what has to happen. ... Obviously, it can be done. But you have to simplify things and not go down Negative Lane and worry about where you might be tomorrow. It can happen, but you have to think small. It's obviously hard because it's happened only one time in the history of baseball."
Lowe said he felt weird talking about it after Tuesday's Game 3 loss, as much because he didn't play in the game as that he has only been with the Yankees for six weeks. But he does have the experience of knowing how it worked, and he said it goes beyond having Sabathia starting.
"Sometimes it isn't the guy on the mound, it's an overall attitude that you can because obviously the stacks are really against you," Lowe said. "But it's crazy how this game works. Everyone wants to finish off a team when they're down 3-0. Just one small victory, maybe you can get the ball rolling in the right direction.
"You just want that one victory, because maybe, as crazy as it sounds, there's more pressure on them. They don't want to go back to New York. They want to end it here. We just have to accept where we are and try to win every single inning, every single at-bat."
Having made drastic changes to their anemic offense on Tuesday, benching Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher and started Eduardo Nunez at short, the Yankees will likely try something different today, having scored in only two of the 30 innings played thus far in the series.
And they'll have to do so tonight against Tigers RHP Max Scherzer, who was 16-7, 3.74 during the season, was much better in the second half (8-2, 2.69) and had a solid divison series outing vs. Oakland. Overall, he is 3-1, 3.42 vs. the Yankees, including a brutal April 29 outing in which he allowed seven hits and seven walks in 4 2/3 innings.