Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Justin Verlander Puts Yankees on the Brink of Elimination

Players of the Day for Tuesday, October 16, 2012

American League

ALCS: Detroit 2 NY Yankees 1 - Justin Verlander turned in another stellar post-season performance, holding a depleted Yankee lineup to two harmless singles and no runs over eight innings before Eduardo Nunez led off the ninth with a solo homer to left.

Verlander pitched to one more batter, his pitch count hitting 132 as he got Brett Gardner on a dribbler to the right side of the infield which Verlander handled and tossed casually to first baseman Prince Fielder.

Verlander: 8 1/3 IP,
3 H, 1 ER, W
Former Yankee reliever, Phil Coke, came on to finish up, getting Ichiro Suzuki to ground out to second, but then allowed back-to-back singles before striking out Raul Ibanez to end the game and put the Tigers up three games to none in the best-of-seven series.

The Tigers managed only single runs in the fourth and fifth off Yankee starter Phil Hughes and reliever David Phelps. Leading off the fourth inning, Delmon Young cracked his second homer of the season to give Detroit the lead, and Miguel Cabrera drove in Quentin Berry with none out in the fifth for the second Tiger run. Berry had reached on a fielding error by third baseman Eric Chavez and stole second prior to Cabrera's line shot to the center-right gap. The run was unearned.

As usual, Verlander was on his game, the only Yankee to hit safely through the first eight innings was Ichiro, who singled in the fourth and seventh, but did not advance past first either time.

Though the result may have been the same regardless, the Yankee lineup was devoid of three regular starters. Derek Jeter, out for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken left ankle, was replaced at short by Nunez. Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher, batting .130 (3-for-23) and .154 (4-for-26), in the playoffs, respectively, were replaced by Eric Chavez at third and Brett Gardner, who returned to his normal position in right field after missing most of the regular season due to injury.

The replacements did as well as could be expected against Verlander. Nunez was 1-for-3 with the solo homer. Chavez went 0-for-3; Gardner, batting in the leadoff spot, was held hitless in four at-bats. Verlander struck out three and did not issue a walk, winning for the sixth time in 11 post-season starts against three losses.

The Yankees face elimination with the Tigers on the verge of a trip to the World Series. Game four gets underway at 8:07 pm EDT in Detroit, Wednesday night.

National League

Game three of the NL Championship Series starts at 4:07 pm EDT in St. Louis. With the series tied at a game apiece, Matt Cain goes to the mound for the Giants; Kyle Lohse starts for the Cardinals.

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