Rapid Reaction: Tigers 2, Yankees 1
October, 16, 2012
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
DETROIT -- Motown is now poised to become Sweep City as the Yankees go down 2-1 to the Tigers to fall behind 3-0 in the American League Championship Series.
What it means: That the Yankees need a win out of CC Sabathia on Wednesday to get them to Thursday and a four-game winning streak to get to the World Series, and although they finally showed a pulse in the ninth inning Tuesday, right now, neither seems very likely.
The Yankees went down again, to Justin Verlander and the Tigers, on just two hits through the first eight innings before mounting a threat in the ninth. No sense in recounting the tragic numbers; suffice it to say that everyone with the exception of one guy stunk out the joint again, and until Eduardo Nunez's HR in the ninth, they had been shut out over 27 innings by eight pitchers. The only four runs they had scored in the series came at the expense of Detroit closer Jose Valverde in the ninth inning of Game 1, and the way things look, his services might not be needed again in this series.
Can't blame the hostility of the fans for this one; the crowd at Comerica Park seemed quite happy to have the Yankees in town.
Batting disorder: Joe Girardi tried to shake things up by benching Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher in favor of Eric Chavez and Brett Gardner. But not only did the shuffle not help -- Chavez and Gardner were hitless in seven at-bats -- it actually wound up hurting the Yankees when Chavez's fifth-inning error led to the Tigers' second run of the game, which turned out to be the game winner. Chavez is now 0-for-14 this postseason.
High V-Lo: Verlander was very good but hardly unhittable, striking out only two through the first six innings. But in typical fashion, he began dialing it up over the second half of the game, and he blew away Robinson Cano with a 98 mph fastball on his 94th pitch of the game in the seventh inning. The Yankees had just two hits, and both from the same player, Ichiro Suzuki, before Nunez's home run. The impotence of the Yankees' offense -- they couldn't even work out a walk -- made it easy for Verlander to work into the eighth inning, although he threw 132 pitches, one shy of his career postseason high. V-Lander was still pumping gas in the ninth inning; his 121st pitch of the night was clocked at 99 mph.
Nuneeee! The only Yankees highlight of the night came from Nunez, who hung tough in his ninth-inning at-bat and finally belted the ninth pitch he saw, a curveball, into the bullpen for his team's only run of the game.
Snakebit: The injury bug took a chunk out of the Yankees again when Phil Hughes left the game after two pitches to Jhonny Peralta in the fourth inning. Hughes seemed to grimace after a 0-1 pitch and could be seen rolling his shoulder on the mound. It was announced that Hughes left the game with a "stiff back."
One-for-30: Cano went 0-for-3 Tuesday night before lining a single off reliever Phil Coke with two out in the ninth to end his franchise-worst-ever postseason hitless streak at 29 at-bats. Before that, Cano's last hit had come in the first inning of Game 2 of the AL Division Series, which seems like years ago but was actually Oct. 8.
Where's Alex? Given the perfect opportunity to afford A-Rod a chance to redeem himself -- two on, two out, one-run game in the ninth and lefty Coke facing lefty Raul Ibanez -- Girardi chose to let Ibanez hit for himself. Ibanez worked the count full, and then struck out to end the game.
Short stay: David Phelps came on in relief of Hughes as the long man but lasted only one inning plus two batters into the fifth. Miguel Cabrera's double to center ended his night. Phelps was charged with one run, but it was unearned because the runner who scored, Quintin Berry, reached on Chavez's error.
Binder battle: Girardi and Jim Leyland matched looseleafs in the sixth inning, and Girardi came up the winner. With the left-handed hitting Berry coming up with one out and runners on first and second, Girardi brought in Boone Logan. Leyland countered with right-handed hitting Avisail Garcia, who singled to load the bases for Cabrera. Girardi stayed with Logan, which looked like a recipe for disaster, but Logan got Miggy to rap into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Young blood: Delmon Young bloodied the Yankees again, leading off the fourth inning with a laser shot over the left-field fence to give the Tigers and Verlander a 1-0 lead.
Not so Grand: Granderson got a terrible read on Cabrera's liner to center in the fifth and watched it fly over his head for an RBI double that gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead. The hit chased Phelps from the game and brought in Clay Rapada.
Patience, patience: Girardi said before the game the Yankees would try to work the count against Verlander and make him throw a lot of pitches early. Then they went down on nine pitches in the first inning, 11 pitches in the second inning and 13 in the third. So they were getting more patient as the game went along.
What's coming from us: Ian O'Connor with a column on the embarrassment of it all and why it might be a foreshadowing of things to come. Andrew Marchand will have the latest news on the injury that drove Hughes out of the game, as well as five things to know out of the clubhouse, none of which is likely to be good. I'll write a column on the night Girardi decided to roll the dice, only to see them come up snake eyes.
What's next: CC Sabathia (15-6, 3.38 ERA in the regular season; 1-0, 1.00 in the postseason so far) versus RHP Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74 regular season; 0-0, 0.00 in one postseason start) in Game 4, first pitch at 8:07 p.m. ET Wednesday.
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