Rapid Reaction: Yankees 9, Tigers 3
October, 1, 2011
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score | Photos
WHAT IT MEANS: It took two days, but the Yankees have the first game of this ALDS. With Justin Verlander looming in Game 3 in Detroit, there was a little extra incentive to hold serve.
IS THIS CANO'S OCTOBER: With two outs in the fifth, Robinson Cano nailed a go-ahead double to left. The ball hit on the top of the left-field wall. The confused Tigers hesitated for a moment, which allowed Curtis Granderson, who might have thought it was a homer, to pick up his speed and score from first.
The umps looked at it on instant replay, but decided it was not a homer. It was the right call.
Home run or double, with the move to the three-spot in the order and the way his season ended, it felt like this could be Cano's October.
THERE WAS MORE: In the sixth, the Yankees chased Doug Fister. Jim Leyland took a long time to get Fister. When he finally did, he brought in Al Alburqurque with the bases loaded against Cano. The second pitch Cano saw, he deposited in the second deck. Alburqurque had not allowed a home run all season.
For good measure, Cano added an RBI double in the eighth. Cano's six-RBI game tied a franchise postseason record, held by Bobby Richardson (1960 World Series), Bernie Williams (1999 ALDS) and Hideki Matsui (2009 World Series).
Reggie Jackson told me earlier this year that Cano has the type of talent that can take over October. The key, according the man known for this month, is just to get opportunities and let the talent take over. In 2009, Cano hit less than .200 and was an offensive non-factor. You know as a Yankee, he would get a chance to have a 2009 A-Rod-like October. Well, he is off to that type of start.
NO NERVES FOR NOVA: Ivan Nova didn't look as if the spectacle of pitching in Game 1 of the ALDS had any impact. Technically, he didn't start the game, but he looked Andy Pettitte-like. Pettitte will likely bring the house down on Sunday when he throws the first pitch. In Game 1, Nova put up six scoreless innings before leaving with the bases loaded with one-out in the ninth.
The quick chant of "No-va! No-va! No-va!" rung through his ears. It could become a common sound if he continues to pitch like he did on Saturday night.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP: Nova joined some nice company. The last pitcher to throw six inning of relief in a win was Pedro Martinez in 1999. The last to throw seven was Nolan Ryan in 1969. Nova finished with 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
MO ENDS IT: Up 9-3 and the bases loaded thanks to Luis Ayala, Mariano Rivera struck out Wilson Betemit on three pitches.
D-LIGHTFUL 6th:Nova began the inning poorly. Against the free-swinging Austin Jackson, Nova got up 0-2 before walking Jackson. With Magglio Ordoñez up, Jackson took off. Ordoñez hit a grounder up the middle. Cano smoothly covered second, picked up the ball seemingly effortlessly, touched the bag, calmly stepped to the side and completed the double play. Next, Nick Swisher made an athletic diving catch, going to his left, leaving his feet and making the play.
DEJA JETER: Derek Jeter with a big relay in the playoffs ... where have we all seen this before? In the fifth, with men on first and second in tie game, Jhonny Peralta nailed a hard single to center. Granderson fielded it on one-hop. Alex Aliva came around third and tried to score.
Granderson hit Jeter at the edge of the infield. Jeter turned and fired a bullet to home that hit Russell Martin's glove about one step off the plate toward third. As usual for Jeter, it was perfect timing as he nailed Aliva.
WHAT IS NEXT: Game 2 is on tap at 3:07 p.m. Sunday. Can Freddy Garcia's slow stuff work in the playoffs? We will find out. Garcia (12-8, 3.62) faces off with Max Scherzer (15-9, 4.43 ERA).
COMING ATTRACTONS: Live postgame on 1050 ESPN New York. You can listen to that here. Jody McDonald hosts. I will be on with him in the postgame. Ian O'Connor will write about Robinson Cano. Wallace Matthews will look at what this first wins means.
Rob Parker looks ahead to Game 2 and Garcia's start. Jerry Crasnick will write about the Tigers starters not named Justin Verlander and their need to find a way.
Ian Begley will fill up the blog quickly after the game, leading off with Nova. Adam Rubin will handle the rest of the news coming out of the Tigers side.
Tomorrow, video of Wally and me looking ahead to Game 2. Plus all of ESPN's other baseball coverage. So keep coming back and we will have you covered from now until Game 2's first pitch.
QUESTION AFTER GAME 1: Is this Cano's October?