Verlander carries Tigers to verge of sweep, World Series berth
Detroit, MI, United States (4E Sports) – Justin Verlander brought a shutout bid into the ninth as the Detroit Tigers moved closer to a sweep and a World Series berth with a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees Tuesday in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park.
The Tigers have a chance to capture the pennant and a World Series spot in Wednesday’s Game 4, where they pit Max Scherzer against Yankees reliable ace CC Sabathia.
“They are going to be tough to beat,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “They are the New York Yankees. They are a great team. All teams at this time of year are hard to beat. They are hard to beat during the regular season. They are really hard to beat during the postseason.
Verlander (1-0) cruised through the first eight innings before Eduardo Nunez broke his shutout bid with a solo shot in the ninth.
The Tigers ace pitched 23 straight scoreless frames between Nunez’s home run and Coco Crisp’s solo shot in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, tying Kenny Rogers’ 2006 record for consecutive scoreless innings in the playoff.
Before Nunez’s solo shot, the Tigers’ rotation had 37 2/3 innings without an earned run since Seth Smith’s home run off Anibal Sanchez in Game 3 of the AL Division Series in Oakland a week ago.
In Major League history, the Boston Red Sox are the only team to win a best-of-seven playoff series after losing the first three games. Ironically, they did it against the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series.
Yankees starter Phil Hughes (0-1) gave up a homer to Delmon Young in the fourth frame before he was pulled out seven pitches later with a stiff back. He gave up an earned run on three hits with three walks and a strikeout.
The Tigers made it 2-0 when Miguel Cabrera ripped a run-scoring double against David Phelps in the fifth.
For his part, Verlander retired the first 10 batters he faced then retired eight more in a row after Ichiro Suzuki’s one-out single in the fourth.
After Ichiro delivered a leadoff single in the seventh, Verlander retired the heart of the Yankees’ lineup, finishing off Robinson Cano with a 98-mph fastball.
“It was working early for me, pretty much everything, and then I just kind of fell out of sync during the later innings,” Verlander said. “I wasn’t hitting the locations, thus the pitch count got high and I wasn’t striking anybody out because I was behind the counts on everybody.”
Verlander was pulled out after Nunez’s homer and was relieved by Phil Coke, who then finished New York by striking out veteran Raul Ibanez, who failed to deliver this time after going hitless in four at-bats.
“I got faith in our bullpen,” Verlander said. “Coke did a great job in New York, he’s done a great job for us all year, so I was OK with it. I was up around 130 pitches, so I don’t think they’re just going to leave me out there and sacrifice the rest of the postseason just for this game.”
Joe Girardi’s decision to bench slumping Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher backfired as the Yankees only got five hits, two from Ichiro Suzuki.
Eric Chavez, Rodriguez’s replacement at third base, went hitless in three at-bats while Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin both went 0-for-3.
“Our guys put the ball in play and tried to get on base, but, you know, when you face Verlander, you know what you’re up against,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.