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Verlander looks to keep Yankee bats cold

10/16/2012

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Tigers have lost seven of 11 starts by Justin Verlander against the Yankees since 2009.The ALCS heads to Detroit for Game 3 on Tuesday night and the New York Yankees might actually be happier than the Detroit Tigers to get out of the Bronx.

The Yankees were shut out in 20 of 21 innings in Games 1 and 2 at Yankee Stadium, with their only four runs coming during their near-miraculous rally in the ninth inning of Game 1.

Justin Verlander Stats to Watch

The Yankees have had success against Verlander in the last four seasons, winning seven of the 11 starts he’s made against them, including the postseason.

Justin Verlander Since 2009

Since the start of 2009, Verlander has consistently used the strategy of pitching to his arm side (inside to righties, away to lefties) when facing the Yankees. Nearly 80 percent of his pitches thrown have been in this location, compared to 70 percent for all other teams since 2009.

However, this approach has not always been successful in keeping the Yankees off the basepaths. The Yankees have hit .294 in at-bats ending in a Verlander pitch to the arm side since 2009; the rest of the league has hit just .216 in those same situations.

Phil Hughes Stats to Watch

The last time Hughes faced Verlander was on June 3 in Detroit. Hughes outdueled the Tigers ace, recording his first career nine-inning complete-game victory and limiting the Tigers to just one run on four hits.

Hughes challenged the Tigers with his fastball, throwing the pitch a season-high 81 percent of the time. He was most effective when locating it in the upper half of the zone or above, netting him 15 outs and just one hit allowed.

However, Hughes later made a start against the Tigers on August 7 and really struggled, giving up four runs before getting pulled in the fifth inning. The Tigers pounded his curveball, with four hits (including two doubles) in eight at-bats ending in the pitch.

Matchups to Watch

Verlander has dominated some of the Yankee lefties and switch-hitters:

• Mark Teixeira is 3-for-35 (.086) against Verlander, including 0-for-his-last-15. That is his worst batting average against any pitcher (minimum 20 at-bats).

• Nick Swisher is 11-for-61 (.180) with 23 strikeouts vs Verlander. However, seven of those 11 hits have gone for extra bases, including three homers.

• Robinson Cano is 7-for-38 (.184) against Verlander with no home runs. The 38 at-bats are his third-most without a homer against a pitcher. But he’s 3-for-10 with a triple against Verlander this season.

One matchup that might give Hughes trouble is Miguel Cabrera, who is 9-for-22 (.409) with four home runs against him. Cabrera is the only player to take Hughes deep four times; the four home runs also match Cabrera’s most against any pitcher.

A-Rod Breakout?

Verlander doesn’t seem like the obvious pitcher that Alex Rodriguez would feel good about facing right now. Rodriguez is hitless in 18 at-bats with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitching this postseason. However, he is 4-for-6 with two home runs against Verlander this season.

Stat of Game

Entering this postseason, 23 teams had lost the first two games at home in a best-of-seven series.

According to Elias, only three have come back to win the series: the Royals beat the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series, the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, and the Yankees beat the Braves in the 1996 World Series.

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-- Dan Braunstein, Katie Sharp and Mark Simon contributed to this post