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YORK -- Nick Swisher and Yankee Stadium's right-field Bleacher Creatures have enjoyed a warm relationship over four seasons in the Bronx, one that includes Swisher enthusiastically acknowledging cheers with a left-handed salute during "Roll Call" each day.
But on Sunday, as the Yankees took the field for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Swisher's heart wasn't quite in it. Stung by jeers he heard from the home crowd during the Yankees' Game 1 loss to the Tigers, Swisher acknowledged that he offered just a lackluster wave when he heard his name chanted.
"That's the last thing that I ever thought would be in this ballpark, that people would get on you that bad," Swisher said after the Yankees lost, 3-0, to fall into a 2-0 deficit in the ALCS. "Especially your home, where your heart is, where you've been 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. It's just tough, man."
Swisher has struggled mightily in this postseason, continuing a trend that has marked his Yankees career. After going 1-for-3 with two strikeouts in Game 2, Swisher is just 4-for-26 (.154) with one RBI in seven games against Orioles and Tigers pitching.
Most of his at-bats, especially in the ALCS, have been accompanied by loud boos -- and Swisher hasn't been alone in that category. Some Yankees spoke of hitting the road for Games 3 and 4 (plus Game 5, if necessary) at Comerica Park as a potential fresh start when they'll have to contend with ace Justin Verlander on Tuesday and Max Scherzer the day after.
"The last two games haven't been very good for us, so maybe a change of scenery will be good; a little refresher for our team," Alex Rodriguez said. "We'll take a day off tomorrow, take a deep breath, come back and play great baseball. We've been doing it all year. Our backs have been against the wall. There's no question that we're going to come back on fire."
Rodriguez has again been a popular target for the boo-birds, who cheered derisively when he lined out hard to left field in the seventh inning of Game 2 and again when he singled to center field in the ninth inning. A-Rod said he understands the fans' frustration.
"Well, I mean, we haven't scored a run in a long time," Rodriguez said. "I'm right there with them. You can't blame our fans. We've got to go out there and score runs. We have the ability and a lineup that's equipped to score a lot of runs, and we got shut down today."
Yankees catcher Russell Martin agreed that moving the series from New York to Detroit could have benefit, but after playing five straight crucial games at Yankee Stadium in five days, his thoughts were more related to rest.
"I feel like we've played a bunch of innings in a short period of time here," Martin said. "We'll take that off-day, get your mind back and [then it's] time to get after it again. But it's not going to be easy in Detroit and we know that."
Statistics aside, what troubled Swisher were personal jabs and critiques that seem unfair.
"Last night was pretty big," Swisher said. "A lot of people saying a lot of things that I've never heard before. Prime example: I missed that [12th-inning Delmon Young] ball in the lights, and the next thing you know, I'm the reason that [Derek] Jeter got hurt. It's kind of frustrating. They were saying it was my fault."
Normally, Swisher takes his warmup throws near the right-field stands, but he said that during Game 2, he kept his distance and threw closer to the infield.
Swisher is eligible for free agency after the postseason and said that he has heard fans telling him that they are looking forward to seeing him leave, which has also burned.
"I'm one of those guys that if you give me a hug, I'll run through a brick wall for you, man," Swisher said. "It just seems right now like there's just a lot of ... it's tough. It's really tough. You want to go out and play for your city, play for your team. Right now, it's just really tough.
"It hurts. Sometimes I'm a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit. I've been lucky to be here for the past four years, bro. We're not going to go out like this. We're going to go to Detroit and give everything we've got."