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Justin Verlander perseveres as Tigers send Yankees to the brink of elimination

Oct 4, 2011, 1:17 AM EDT

Justin Verlander AP

When Justin Verlander gave up two runs and threw 21 pitches in the first inning tonight, it didn’t look like he would be long for this ballgame. Fortunately for the Tigers, he was just getting warmed up.

While CC Sabathia walked a season-high six batters and failed to make it out of the sixth inning, Verlander ended up striking out 11 over eight innings as the Tigers beat the Yankees 5-4 to grab a 2-1 series lead in the ALDS.

Delmon Young played the role of unlikely hero, slugging a go-ahead solo home run off Rafael Soriano in the bottom of the seventh inning to put the Tigers ahead for good. Jose Valverde, who labored Sunday’s win by throwing 34 pitches, survived another shaky ninth inning to lock down the save. He struck out Derek Jeter with runners on first and second to end it.

With their season on the line, the Yankees will now send A.J. Burnett to the hill Tuesday night against Rick Porcello. In other words, God help us all.

Notes

- Verlander really found a groove in the middle part of the ballgame, retiring 13 out of 15 batters from the third inning into the seventh, including seven strikeouts. The Yankees tied the game in the seventh on a two-run double by Brett Gardner, but the Tigers took the lead back in the next half inning on the home run by Young.

- Verlander cracked 100 mph on five straight pitches in the eighth inning, topping out at 101 mph. That’s right. In the eighth inning. Incredible.

- Remember when Buster Olney tweeted before the ballgame that CC Sabathia was 6-0 with a 2.19 ERA with Jerry Davis behind the plate? Well, that little factoid was rendered meaningless tonight. While some claimed that the big southpaw was getting squeezed, it was pretty obvious that he just didn’t have it. He was charged with four runs over 5 1/3 innings, but it could have been much worse. I was honestly surprised to see him back out there for the sixth inning.

- What’s with all the bunting, Jim Leyland? Ramon Santiago failed in his initial attempt to get a sacrifice down in the second inning, but that was actually a blessing in disguise for the Tigers, as he followed it with an RBI single. Then, with Sabathia on the ropes in the sixth, we saw a sacrifice bunt from Alex Avila of all people. Really? They were fortunate that didn’t come back to bite them.

- You want to nitpick that Rafael Soriano shouldn’t have come back out for the seventh after getting the final two outs in the sixth? Fine. But I have a bigger problem throwing a first-pitch fastball to Delmon Young.

- Russell Martin was hit in the ribs by a 100 mph fastball from Justin Verlander in the top of the seventh inning. No big deal. Shook it off and walked down to first base. Respect.

- Jorge Posada drew two huge walks late in the ballgame, including one with two outs in the two-run seventh and another with one out in the ninth.

- Actual quote from TBS broadcaster John Smoltz, presently completely out of context for maximum enjoyment: “That is a shagging dream.”

- Alex Rodriguez drew two walks and had an RBI groundout in the first inning, but is now 0-for-10 in the series. Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is batting .091 (1-for-11) during the series.

  1. craggt - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    I will be at the game tomorrow and I simply can not wait. I have no idea how I’m going to sleep tonight, my heart is still racing.

  2. brianbowman16 - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    Actual quote from TBS broadcaster John Smoltz, presently completely out of context for maximum enjoyment: “That is a shagging dream.”

    said that about my ex-wife……BEFORE i married her

    GO TIGERS!!!!

  3. cur68 - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    Also said by Smoltz; “Dumb & Dumber is my favorite movie” . This just after he quoted from it. Love me some Smoltzy…

    • craggt - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:51 AM

      I also love how he got the quote wrong.

      • cur68 - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:58 AM

        Ahh give him a break; he has trouble remembering where he stuck the pine tar….

  4. dl3mk3 - Oct 4, 2011 at 6:53 AM

    Sabathia historically has become annoyed when he has to field bunts, Leyland im sure was trying to get the CC to have to run around and thinking about fielding and not pitching.

  5. proudlycanadian - Oct 4, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    Valverde has to take a seat on the bench in game 4. He has thrown too many pitches. Fortunately for him, the captain came up small in the clutch.

    Any bets on which inning A. J. gives up 4 runs after looking unhittable early in the game? I suspect that it will be the 4th inning.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM

      It seems like A.J. can go once through the order, then second, but third time seems to be the charm.

  6. humanexcrement - Oct 4, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    What’s with Yankee catchers getting injured left and right this year? Must be some kind of conspiracy. Either that or I’m an idiot. Nah, must be a conspiracy.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      I, alone, think that was funny. I feel sorry for us both.

  7. daisycutter1 - Oct 4, 2011 at 8:28 AM

    I’m still blown away by the two completely different strike zones last night…

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/zoneplot.php-pitchSel=all&game=gid_2011_10_03_nyamlb_detmlb_1&sp_type=1&s_type=7.gif

    I’m pretty sure that’s the most inequitable chart I’ve seen, regular season or postseason. At least Wild Pitch Burnett will make things a lot easier for tonight’s home plate umpire. /headslap

    • paperlions - Oct 4, 2011 at 8:42 AM

      I was going to make some smart-assed remark about framing pitching…but both Martin and Avila graded out on the high positive side in that study, with Martin slightly better (+15 R/120G to +13 R/120G).

    • pestiesti - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      I don’t see where Detroit was getting calls that New York wasn’t. They were both getting that outside strike versus lefties, Detroit just threw a lot more of them. It looks a lot less egregious if you look at the LHH plot (http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/zoneplot.php-pitchSel=all&game=gid_2011_10_03_nyamlb_detmlb_1&sp_type=2&s_type=7.gif) and RHH plot (http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/zoneplot.php-pitchSel=all&game=gid_2011_10_03_nyamlb_detmlb_1&sp_type=3&s_type=7.gif) separately.

      • daisycutter1 - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:46 AM

        Thanks for backing me up. Detroit did get a lot more calls off the plate than the Yankee pitchers did.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 4, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        They were both getting that outside strike versus lefties

        The problem is that the Yanks have 6 LH vs Detroit’s 1, so why the ump was consistent, it hurt the Yanks far more.

  8. protectthishouse54 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    “- You want to nitpick that Rafael Soriano shouldn’t have come back out for the seventh after getting the final two outs in the sixth? Fine. But I have a bigger problem throwing a first-pitch fastball to Delmon Young.”

    This is my biggest problem with last night’s game. Smoltz even called it. Soriano has been giving up backbreakers all year!

  9. purnellmeagrejr - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    I’m going to listen to WFAN this afternoon just to bask in Yankee fans going nuts.

  10. gdeli - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    damn delmon young. squat here in mn and boom! for the tigers. what a jerk.

    • brianbowman16 - Oct 4, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      I really can’t blame a Twins fan for being just a wee bit bitter
      go ahead you deserve it (if it was a white sox fan i’d say piss up a rope)

      You guys, unfortunately for us fans of the Detroit Tigers, will more than likely be back to haunt us next year. I’m just extremely glad we could take advantage of you guys not being around this year to be a pain in the collective ass lol

      GO TIGERS!!
      MAKE EM PAY FOR STARTING NUKE LALOOSH TONIGHT!!

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