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Sunday, October 2, 2011
W2W4: ALDS Game 2 (Tigers at Yankees)

Freddy Garcia What2Watch4
Garcia and Mark Buehrle are tied for the most regular season wins against the Tigers among active pitchers with 18, but Garcia lost in his only start against Detroit this season.

One of the biggest issues for Garcia in September was that he didn’t handle right-handed hitters the way he did in the first five months of the season.

Righties hit just .238 with four home runs against Garcia from April to August, but hit .364 with three homers against him in the final month. Even in his final start, in which he pitched six scoreless innings against the Red Sox, right-handers went 3-for-9 against him.

Garcia has a history of being very careful against the heart of the Tigers order. Miguel Cabrera (.517 OBP), Magglio Ordonez (.410) and Victor Martinez (.404) have combined for 21 walks in 125 plate appearances against him. Garcia has intentionally walked Cabrera four times, the most often of any hitter he’s ever faced.

Max Scherzer What2Watch4
The Tigers would have preferred to start Scherzer at home and for good reason. He’s allowed 18 home runs in 86 road innings this season.

That gives him both the most road home runs allowed, and the highest home run rate (1.88 per nine innings) of any AL pitcher.

The difference between Scherzer at home compared to on the road can be best seen in this stat. He allowed one home run for every 14 fly balls yielded in Comerica Park. On the road, he gave up a home run for every six fly balls allowed.

Robinson Cano is 1-for-8 with five ground outs and two strikeouts against Scherzer, but the one hit was a home run on April 3.

Scherzer’s statistical strength in 2011 was working in the upper-third of the strike zone and above. But if his location comes down a bit, that’s where he gets in trouble. Scherzer threw 231 fastballs that Pitch F/X tracked as being “middle-middle” (ie: belt-high, over the middle-third of the plate), most in the major leagues.

Opponents who made contact with those pitches were 27-for-67 against them with four home runs.

One more time for Cano?
Cano homered in back-to-back games twice during the 2010 postseason. The last Yankee to homer in his first two games of a postseason was Derek Jeter in 2002.

Daytime Domination
The Yankees 44-12 record in afternoon games was the best in major league history. It’s also worth noting that they were 29-4 in home day games, though they did lose to the Tigers on April 3.

The Tigers were pretty good in day games as well, posting a 38-23 mark. Their .623 winning percentage ranked third in baseball and was the best since 1987, when they went 33-16 (.673).

The importance of Game 2
In each of the previous eight seasons, the Yankees result in Game 2 of the ALDS has matched the eventual outcome of the series. They’ve won Game 2 on four occasions, winning each of those series. They’ve also lost Game 2 on four occasions, most recently in 2007 when they got beat by the Indians.