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Max Scherzer dazzles as Tigers even ALDS with Yankees

Oct 2, 2011, 6:59 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Scherzer pitches to the New York Yankees in Game 2 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball playoffs in New York Reuters

Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer had a very up-and-down regular season. When he was good, he was great. When he was bad, it often got ugly.

On Sunday afternoon in New York City, the 27-year-old couldn’t have been much better.

Scherzer issued two first-inning walks, but settled in soon after and held the Yankees’ star-studded lineup hitless until Game 1 standout Robinson Cano blooped a single to left field in the sixth inning.

Scherzer wound up throwing six scoreless frames, yielding only two hits and striking out five Yankees while hurling 61 of his 104 pitches for strikes. He was aided offensively by Magglio Ordonez, who went 3-for-3, and Miguel Cabrera, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBI. Victor Martinez also drove in a run.

Curtis Granderson put the Yankees on the board with an eighth-inning solo home run and Nick Swisher added a solo shot off Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the bottom of the ninth. Then Jorge Posada tripled for the first time in 2011 and scored on an Andruw Jones sacrifice fly. But Valverde eventually got the job done for Detroit, and the Tigers tied the series with an exhilarating 5-3 Game 2 victory.

Notes

* Ordonez laced a one-out single in the top of the first inning, then Cabrera lined a two-run homer into the right field seats. It wasn’t a bad pitch, and Cabrera didn’t make especially great contact. You have to wonder how many home runs Cabrera would hit to that right field porch if he called Yankee Stadium home.

* Yankees starter Freddy Garcia retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced after Cabrera’s two-run blast, then got himself into trouble again in the sixth inning. He allowed six hits and four runs over 5 1/3 frames.

* Derek Jeter nearly led off the bottom of the first inning with an extra-base hit, but speedy Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson retreated quickly and snared the ball on the run just before the warning track.

* The sun was shining brightly at Yankee Stadium in the early innings, causing some problems for both team’s outfielders. But it was a welcome sight for a series that has already featured a 27-hour rain delay.

* Rain made another appearance in the bottom of the seventh inning, but only for a quick shower. It reappeared in the bottom of the ninth and was coming down hard as the Yankees attempted a comeback.

* Posada drew a tough walk in the fifth inning that seemed to throw Scherzer slightly off his rhythm. The Detroit right-hander hit the next better he faced (Yankees catcher Russell Martin) before getting out of the jam. The Yankees finally broke through with their first hit in the very next frame.

* Posada followed a leadoff walk by Nick Swisher with a single up the middle, driving Scherzer from the game in the seventh. But Joaquin Benoit came on in relief and retired three straight batters — fanning two.

* Cabrera caught the Yanks napping in the eighth inning and stole the first base of his postseason career.

* Alex Rodriguez finished 0-for-3 with a walk and is now 0-for-8 in the series. The boo birds came out.

  1. Old Gator - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    When Avila fell on his tushy after slipping on the ALDS logo by the Tigers’ dugout in the bottom of the ninth chasing that pop fly with two out, I thought the baseball gods were preparing a treat for us. Nope. Just a tease.

    • Lukehart80 - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:17 PM

      You would consider the Yankees winning after something like that to be a treat? Shameful.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:18 PM

        Doesn’t matter what happens, OG still has ’03 and the whupping the Marlins put on the Yanks =\

    • bowling255 - Oct 2, 2011 at 10:16 PM

      My thought at that moment the Tigers Metrodome curse has come to Yankee Stadium.

  2. Joe - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Is it just me, or have these playoffs been balk-heavy?
    Fister, Logan, and Ziegler, and I feel like I’m missing another one.

    Are pitchers just jumpier in the playoffs?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:19 PM

      Can’t speak for the other two, but Logan’s is on Jeter. He started yelling at him mid delivery because Cabrera was taking a big lead.

      • Lukehart80 - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:22 PM

        The other ones were all Jeter’s fault too.

    • Joe - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:23 PM

      Research assignment for someone smarter than me: Is there any correlation between leverage index and balks? Obviously having runners on base will boost the LI, but I wonder if you controlled for that there’d be a correlation. Fond memories of KC’s walk-off balk earlier this year….

    • wendell7 - Oct 3, 2011 at 7:23 AM

      Marco Scutaro also scored on a balk in the final regular season series between Boston and Baltimore. While technically not a playoff series, for all intents and purposes for Boston, it was.

  3. Kevin S. - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    I don’t have a problem pitching to Miggy in the first – way too soon to just be putting runners on, but there’s absolutely no way Garcia should have stayed out there in the sixth against him. Girardi needed to go to Robertson right then. Dude hasn’t pitched since Tuesday, I don’t think five outs would have been any kind of issue whatsoever. Also, wtf was up with Ayala pitching the ninth? Sure, the second-best offense in baseball didn’t have a chance to overcome a three-run deficit in the ninth inning… right. Again, Robertson and Soriano have not worked since Tuesday. Why not put one in and at least give the offense a better crack at it? We have no idea how that inning plays out differently if Martin represents the tying run

  4. proudlycanadian - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    Yankee fans are dreading game 4 as they know that A J is the probable starter. If Detroit wins game 3 there will be a lot of gloom and doom.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 2, 2011 at 7:39 PM

      Not sure why as the Tigers are pitching Porcello. At least AJ can be good, can’t say the same for Rick. Also, with Benoit pitching two innings today and Valverde throwing 40+ pitches, the Tigers bullpen is heavily taxed while Girardi, foolishly, has only had to use Rivera for one at bat.

    • ssazz - Oct 2, 2011 at 11:50 PM

      This Yankee fan isn’t dreading it. Porcello isn’t some world beater first of all, and second if AJ is getting hit he’ll be gone. Especially with CC going tomorrow, the bullpen will be plenty ready for game 4. Hughes or Colon will be in as early as the 1st if he’s struggling, Girardi won’t just sit around and watch that he has options. Yankees need to win at least one in Detroit then take chance with Nova on full rest at the stadium for a game 5. That in no way fills me with dread.

      • ssazz - Oct 2, 2011 at 11:55 PM

        Oops, scratch that. I forgot Colon isn’t on ALDS roster, Wade or Ayala would be next option to follow Hughes in long relief then most likely. But again, if CC pitches deep tomorrow, Girardi will have options out of bullpen for game 4 and AJ will have short rope regardless.

  5. dirtyharry1971 - Oct 2, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    Ive see Porcello pitch some of his best games against New York, i wouldnt be suprised if the tigers win the next two. Yanks have to address that rotation this off season and should make AJ disappear for good

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 2, 2011 at 8:52 PM

      OMG! I actually agree with Harry. I am shocked.

      • kiwicricket - Oct 2, 2011 at 11:27 PM

        I refuse to agree with Harry- So I am just going to agree with you, and what you’ve just agreed with.

      • aceshigh11 - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:35 AM

        Frightening, isn’t it?

        Mr. Harry usually only comes on here to troll Red Sox fans, but I’ll give him credit for being bluntly honest about the state of his own team.

    • marinersnate - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:45 AM

      “Yanks have to address that rotation this off season and should make AJ disappear for good”

      Didn’t you say this Last winter?

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