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New York City-based Yankees superfan and espnW contributor Amanda Rykoff will be sharing her thoughts on the Yankees' playoff run. Today she provides her thoughts on the Yankees' ALDS Game 3 loss to Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
Watching Monday night's pivotal Game 3 at Comerica from my couch in New York City, I kept a running diary. I will not subject you to all the gory details. Instead, I'll share a few of the highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be) from the Tigers' 5-4 win, which gave Detroit a 2-1 series lead.
There will be no no-hitter for Verlander tonight
It all started so well. The Yankees know that success against Verlander needs to come before he hits his stride. He was wild in the first inning of Game 1 before it was suspended (stupid Mother Nature). With that aggressive approach in Game 3, Derek Jeter smacked the first pitch up the middle for a solid single and promptly scored on Curtis Granderson's RBI triple to left center. Granderson scored to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead when he came home on Alex Rodriguez's RBI groundout and we were in business. With CC Sabathia on the mound, having an early lead always feels good.
Austin Jackson works a leadoff walk. What?
Jackson, the Tigers' leadoff hitter, struck out 181 times in the regular season. When he managed to work the count from 0-2 to full, I was concerned. He drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the first and I knew things were not going to go well for CC. It didn't help that the umpire squeezed CC like this morning's orange juice. While Sabathia held the Tigers scoreless in the first thanks to a double play (one of three he induced in 5.1 innings), he labored through 28 pitches that inning. The high pitch count and control issues (six walks on the night, including another one to Jackson) represented a theme for the evening. Not to mention, Brandon Inge (.197 in the regular season) and Ramon Santiago lit up Sabathia. These things should not happen in a real baseball world.
If Verlander weren't pitching against my team I could appreciate it more
As a baseball fan, I love watching Verlander pitch. When he is on his game, he's flat-out filthy. He has a fastball that tops out at 100 mph, and he throws a devastating curve and nasty off-speed pitches into the mix. As a Yankees fan looking at going down 2-1 in the series with our best pitcher on the mound, I hated watching Verlander pitch. Through the middle innings, Verlander looked unhittable. His fastball was smoking and his off-speed pitches froze the Yankees at the plate. He was filthy, striking out 11 in eight strong innings.
Love you, Brett Gardner. RBI double. Off Verlander. Tie game.
Down 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Jorge Posada -- who refuses to go quietly into that great Yankee night -- worked a walk with two outs. Russell Martin then took a fastball right in the rib cage. Talk about taking one for the team. Up stepped Gardner. Could he get the big hit like he did in Game 1 off Doug Fister? He smacked a 3-2 pitch to left center to drive home two to tie the game. The Yankees had scored four runs off the great Verlander and were set up to go to Detroit's bullpen and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Or at least that was the plan. Until Delmon Young (yes, that same Delmon Young who homered off CC in Game 1) took Rafael Soriano deep to right on the first pitch of the eighth inning to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
I would rather have Verlander pitch a complete game than see Valverde's save dance
I don't need to add too much to this one. I don't like Jose Valverde. I don't like his dance. I don't like watching him close out playoff games against my team. That's all there is to it. Unfortunately, that's what happened in Game 3 when he struck out Jeter swinging with the tying run on second base, much to the chagrin of Yankees fans everywhere.
A.J. Burnett starting in a close-out game? My worst nightmare.
That about sums it up. Prove me wrong tonight in Game 4, A.J. Prove me wrong.