Playing at home in the postseason is always special, whether they break out the huge American flag on the field and hand out rally towels or just hang the bunting and introduce everyone on the baselines.But playing at home in the bizarre world that is the 2012 postseason simply hasn't been as cozy as it should be. That much was evident on the first doubleheader day of the League Championship Series round on Sunday, as the Yankees dropped behind, 2-0, to the Tigers in the American League Championship Series and the Giants fell in the opener of the National League Championship Series to the Cardinals. Through the first three games of this round and the Wild Card and Division Series games that preceded it, the home team has won just nine of the first 25 playoff games this October, for a rather homely .360 winning percentage. By way of comparison, home teams went 23-15 (.605) in 2011 and 14-18 (.438) in '10.
So far in the LCS, the home team has taken an oh-fer, continuing the trend that has a lot of guys in gray uniforms meeting in the middle of infields this October.The Giants, while buoyed by the fact that they lost two at home and then stormed back in the NLDS, are hoping to get back on the horse at home in Monday's Game 2 of the NLCS, the only game of the day with the ALCS taking a travel day before Game 3 on Tuesday. "We've shown how resilient we can be," manager Bruce Bochy said of his Giants, who rallied to win three consecutive on the road in the NLDS against the Reds. "We hate to lose them at home. But it happens, and we've got to wash this one off and come out and be ready to go [Monday]." The Cardinals held on for a 6-4 victory in Game 1, and they get to put Chris Carpenter back on the mound for Game 2 at 8 p.m. ET Monday on FOX, with Ryan Vogelsong starting for the Giants.
A continent away, the Tigers took their commanding lead with a 3-0 defeat of the Yankees, skipping town with an upbeat mindset after winning twice on the road."I'm not going to lie," catcher Alex Avila said. "We feel pretty good about it." By the end of Game 2, the Yankees' manager had been ejected, their best hitter was simply shaking his head in amazement and there weren't a lot of smiling faces at Yankee Stadium, other than those under the Olde English "D" cap. There wasn't much home cooking to be had for the Yankees, right down to the umpiring, which turned two big calls against the pinstriped ones. Girardi was shown the door after arguing with second-base umpire Jeff Nelson over a call that replays clearly showed was an out in the eighth inning, a call bad enough that it had the Yankees manager reconsidering his previously cold attitude toward expanding instant replay. "Yeah, let's have instant replay," Girardi said. "And not just home run, fair, foul. Let's have instant replay." Upon further review, the fact that Robinson Cano is in a record 0-for-26 slide since Game 2 of the ALDS looms as large as any umpire's call. For a player who has been one of the game's top offensive players the past few years, his career-high skid is coming at an inopportune time. "You just have to keep swinging," Cano said. "You keep playing the game, and that's the only way you can turn it around." And now the Yankees have Justin Verlander on their hands in Game 3 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS, and they won't be going to ace CC Sabathia on three days' rest, instead staying with right-hander Phil Hughes. Meanwhile, not long after the last out was recorded at Yankee Stadium, the Cardinals and Giants opened up their series with the sun setting over San Francisco. The Cardinals kept up the momentum from their four-run ninth inning in D.C. the other night, scoring six in the first four innings against Madison Bumgarner, knocking the struggling 23-year-old lefty out of the game -- leaving him at 0-2 with a 11.25 ERA this postseason, a far cry from the 2-0, 2.18 ERA he had through four outings in 2010. After David Freese got things going with a two-run homer in the second, his sixth career postseason shot, Carlos Beltran dealt the final blow against Bumgarner in the fourth with a two-run homer. With 14 postseason homers, he's averaging one every 7.71 at-bats -- almost a full at-bat fewer than Babe Ruth (8.6) in second place. Said Beltran: "In the three opportunities that I've been in the playoffs, I always tell myself to go play the game, don't try to do too much." And then, of course, he proceeds to go and do too much. But the Giants rallied with four of their own in the fourth off Cardinals starter Lance Lynn to knock him out of the game, marking the first time in LCS history that neither pitcher made it out of the fourth inning in Game 1. But both bullpens went to work, and neither team scored in the final five frames. The Giants, who went a strong 48-33 on the shores of McCovey Cove during the regular season, are now 0-for-3 at home in the postseason. "We're not feeling bad about anything," Giants center fielder Angel Pagan said. "They played better than us, and we just have to turn the page. It's a long series, and we just have to keep the good attitude that we have right now. What happened in the last series, we're not going to go back there. We're going to come out tomorrow and play hard." They know the Cardinals will be doing the same, and for guys like Freese who seem to live for the October spotlight, it's another chance to shine. "I think it's the best time of the year," Freese said. "Not every player, not every team gets a chance to be a part of something like this."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.