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Verlander vs. The Yankees: it hardly seems fair

Oct 16, 2012, 6:39 AM EDT

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The Tigers are up 2-0 in the ALCS. They are back home in Detroit. The Yankees offense is sending scribes to the thesaurus to find new words to describe their anemic offense ( feeble, infirm, pallid, sickly, wan, impotent, debilitated, decrepit, enervated, faint, flaccid, forceless, frail, impuissant).  And, oh yeah, Justin Verlander is on the mound for the Tigers.

Should we even bother playing this game?

OK, I oversell the point, but you do hear what I’m saying, yes?  Things look bleak for the Yankees and they could not be set up any more favorably for the Tigers who, after Verlander pitches, get two more games at home, with the next one started by Max Scherzer. Not that it much matters who the Tigers put out on the mound because, with the exception of mostly-demoted closer Jose Valverde, no Detroit pitcher has allowed an earned run since Game 3 of the division series against Oakland.

The Yankees situation, on the other hand, is dire. Derek Jeter is out for the year after breaking an ankle in Game 1. Robinson CanoAlex RodriguezCurtis Granderson and Nick Swisher are a combined 12 for 107 in seven postseason games, and the world is facing a shortage of the letter K thanks to so many of them being used to fill out Yankees scorecards.

Is there any hope for New York?

Sure there is. This is baseball, and if we have learned anything so far this postseason, we’ve learned that there is no such thing as momentum. If there was, Robinson Cano would still be hitting like he did at the end of the regular season and New York would have won Game 1 of this series after mounting that four-run comeback in the ninth inning against Jose Valverde on Saturday.  So where is the hope? How about here:

  • The Yankees aren’t afraid of Verlander: The Yankees faced Justin Verlander three times in 2012 and they won two of those games, notching 25 hits in 20 and a third innings. Granted, the Yankees had help from the Tigers defense in a couple of those outings — of the 12 runs Verlander surrendered to New York, five were unearned — but simply being able to make that kind of contact off Verlander shows that the Yankees are not going to simply lie down for the Tigers ace;
  • The Tigers bullpen is still a hot mess. We saw Jose Valverde melt down in Game 1, which has likely forced him out of closing situations, but Jim Leyland says he’ll still use Papa Grande at some point and that’s good news for the Yankees.  The Tigers used Phil Coke for a two inning save in Game 2, and other late inning options include Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel and Al Alburquerque. Any of those guys are capable of blowing a lead at any moment.
  • The Yankees bats can’t stay cold forever. Slumps happen, but they eventually end. Maybe the Yankees’ bats won’t wake up until they get to Tampa next February, but with the hitting talent New York possesses, it is not hard to envision them simply snapping out of their current funk and putting up ten runs at some point. This isn’t some scared, overmatched first time playoff team here. This is the New York Freakin’ Yankees.

Of course, hope is an uncertain thing. Justin Verlander in a big game is far less uncertain.  The smart money — if you’re dumb enough to bet on baseball anyway — has to be on Detroit tonight.  With their ace behind the wheel and the Yankees hitters looking like roadkill lately, the Tigers appear to be on the road to the World Series.

  1. theskinsman - Oct 16, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    200 million dollar payroll = no excuses. Down 2 games? No problem.Just ask the fairweather,bandwagon Yanks fans…oh, nevermind, most of them won’t be back until their team manages a win.

    • bigharold - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Detroit hasn’t exactly been ripping the cover off the ball while the Yankee pitching has been doing pretty well. The umpire doesn’t blow that call Sunday and the game has a completely different complexion.

      The bottom line is the Yankees have had success against Verlander before, slumps don’t last forever and as was pointed out the Yankees have been down 0-2 before and won. Verlander did have a great year but the season is over and that now means about as much as a $200 million payroll. Execution will determine who wins tonight.

      • marinersnate - Oct 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        “the Yankees have been down 0-2 before and won”

        Seems to me I also remember something about them once being up 3-0…. And losing….

      • bigharold - Oct 16, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        “I also remember something about them once being up 3-0…. And losing…”

        Which merely underscores the point that this series isn’t even close to over.

    • schnitzie - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      We are so getting our a$$es kicked. Sorry, bad bad memories of 2006, when Verlander kicked destroyed our batters, ARod batted 8th, and poor Moose, poor Moose. Oy.

  2. darthicarus - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    Verlander does have an ERA of 5.03 against the Yankees in the postseason, so they do have a history of being able to hit him in big games. Of course in those two series the Yankees actually had an offense that was more Yankee-esque than the Houston Astros-like offense they are trotting out these days. Regardless of past performance I am looking forward to tonight’s game & just hoping that unless the Tigers are up by 11ty runs Jose Valverde does not make an appearance (and even then I’m going to be nervous).

    • astrofaninkc - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:43 AM

      Your words are hurtful.

  3. jayscarpa - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    They’ll get some runs tonight. Hopefully more than Phil Hughes gives up if you are a Yankees fan.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      Phil Hughes, if he shows up, can win the game. If his twin sister Phyllis pitches instead, it will be very tough for the Yankees to win.

      • nbjays - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        You say if Hughes shows up he could win, but the way the Yankees are hitting right now (or maybe MISSING is the better term), if ANY pitcher shows up on the mound for Detroit (with the exception of Valverde or a coach throwing BP), all bets are off. Although it pains me to admit it, right now they’d have a hard time against Ricky Romero (2012 version).

  4. djeter220 - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:37 AM

    Fortunately for the Yanks, tonight’s game is no greater task, as every pitcher has looked like Justin Verlander to them this postseason.

  5. historiophiliac - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    I’m nervous because you never know how a game will go. Verlander had a terrible game against the Royals this season — which just goes to show anyone can have a bad night.

    I hope he’s brilliant though. Then, maybe my buddies will stop putting Chapel v. Verlander BS in my FB feed…finally.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      Verlander has lost 8 games this season, so we know that he can be defeated.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        In all fairness, some of those were earlier in the season and at least one was because of the bullpen — not V.

  6. detroitr1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    The key to this game will be the first inning. Verlander cannot come out all torqued up and lose his control. Verlander has to prevent Arod from getting comfortable again. Win or lose, this game is about keeping the Yankee’s hitters off balance tonight and (hopefully) into the next game. If the Tigers lose, it has to be because of Hughes and not because of the Yankee lineup re-discovering their swagger.

    With Verlander, the Yankees have to do it before the 4th inning. Even if he gives up a run or two, his rhythm on his off speed pitches is generally established by the fourth and the K’s will start mounting.

  7. ericellers - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    Lol!!! As a fan of the Yankee from da Bronx it ain’t easy to watch these bums swinging at air! The legend is out and dat hoits us badly! Really the only thing that has given Yankee fans any hope besides a few guys coming up big for a few runs is da start’n rotation? Now wit dat said , I been around to watch dem win 7 WS … 7!!! So if they don’t win this year or next it’s no real biggie cause you know why?? They don’t deserve to’s dat simple! The tigers may win the ALCS, but that’s about all they’ll win I believe? But then again , Who am I , Nostradumbass? @ thinskin, shut that cock hole of yours afore I slap it shut! Hahaha!!

    • heyblueyoustink - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:11 AM

      This might be the most enlightening thing i’ve ever read.

      • protius - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:19 PM

        You really need to get out more.

    • kiwicricket - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      As our former heavyweight boxer David Tua once asked for on wheel of fortune….
      “Can I have an O, O for Owesome”

      “dat hoits us badly” ???
      You are taking the piss right?

      • kiwicricket - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:24 AM

      • indaburg - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:41 AM

        That was funny. To be fair, there is an ‘o’ in awesome. Safe to say, he didn’t win?

    • detroitr1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:33 AM

      Bathsalts and Molson make for a good time on Hardball Talk.

      • heyblueyoustink - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        Molson? Too high class for this bum, Genny Lite on the other hand

      • historiophiliac - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:28 AM

        Molson’s lesser cousin, Hamm’s

  8. Shayna - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    Craig, perhaps you should reread the article you wrote to the Nats fans after their dispiriting final loss.

    It doesn’t matter what your team’s name is; wishing won’t make it so. There’s no reason to expect that the Yankees will exhibit anything other than their current malaise and ineptitude. It is one thing to have a plan at the plate and fail to execute; that’s just the fortunes of war. But it’s another to go up and flail randomly in the ill-starred hope that the bat might connect with the fleeing ball. Cf., Rodriguez, Cano, et al.

    I am working hard to limit the schadenfreude but it’s an uphill battle.

    • kiwicricket - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:20 AM

      Even flailing randomly generates something at some point. It lowers the chance of prolonged success, but it stumbles upon something at some point.

  9. heyblueyoustink - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    You know what hardly seems fair? Those crane machines at amusement parks or down the shore. Stupid claws always letting go right when you think you’ve won a prize. Damn them all to hell!

    • indaburg - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM

      I’m pretty good with those claw machines. The trick is to look for a toy that is basically “floating.” If even the tiniest part of the toy is under another, even if the toy is on top, you won’t get it. So basically, go for the toy you can get, and not the one you want. Kinda like life, I guess.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        “… go for the toy you can get, and not the one you want…”

        Toy, pitches…same thing. You hear that Cano? Take what the pitcher gives you and destroy it, don’t swing at the pitch you HOPE he throws you.

    • natslady - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM

      Yeah, I hear you there!!!!! (Go, Giants and all that.)

  10. indaburg - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    Impuissant? Nice. That’ll be my word of the day.

    As an avowed lifelong Yankee hater, I find myself oddly hoping that the Yankees win tonight. This is all very confusing to me. I guess I don’t want the ALCS to be over too quickly and putting the Yankees in an 0-3 hole may be insurmountable for them. Besides, it’s no fun rooting against a team that looks so, well, impuissant.

    • stex52 - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      You are just rooting for more baseball. We both lack dogs in this particular fight, so let’s just go for more games to be played.

      • indaburg - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        Exactly. The Yanks just have to look a liitle more alive for that to happen. I want Detroit to win it in 7.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM

        Boooo! 5 games. 6 max. My heart can’t take 7.

  11. willclarkgameface - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    If the Yankees want to take a defeatist attitude into their matchup with Verlander then they deserve to lose. That team still has guys beyond Jeter that are able to produce, but are sucking miserably right now.

    I love how so many people feel bad for the Yankees. Have they lost their minds?

  12. Alexandra - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Verlander has a 5.03 postseason ERA against the Yankees? So what? This isn’t 2006 or 2011 anymore.

  13. number42is1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Verlander – 9 Inn – 81 pitches – 27 SO – Perfect game

    • historiophiliac - Oct 16, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      I wish. And while we’re at it, we can hope for a grand slam from Miggy.

  14. ducksk - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    $200 million and you still can’t buy a championship! Yanks suck!

    • protius - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      All that money that your parents spent on your education was wasted, because you are still unable to reason with the concept that the size a team’s payroll doesn’t equal the size of a team’s success. You suck!

  15. sdelmonte - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    It’s worth noting that three other teams came back from 0-2 deficits with the losses at home, all in the WS: the ’85 Royals, the ’86 Mets and the ’96 Yankees. I remember that us Mets fans were quite dispirited at that point, and a look at the lines from those games shows a team totally outplayed by Boston. The same can be said for the first two games of the ’96 series (which included Girardi and Pettitte, and ironically Andruw Jones).

    As dreary as the Yankees bats have been, the Tigers aren’t exactly walloping the ball either. All it would take to change things is one bad inning from Verlander and more of the good starting pitching we’ve seen from the Yankees. Win tonight, and CC is next up. Anything is possible.

    Even if I don’t think it’s likely.

    • megl3155 - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      No, the Tigers aren’t walloping the ball, but they’re playing team ball–get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in. The Yanks are playing I don’t know what kind of ball–swing for the fences every pitch. The Yanks better be hoping for “one bad inning” Verlander cause they are probably gonna get “11KCGSO” JV.

      • megl3155 - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM

        I’m so happy JV is a Tiger.

  16. beelza - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    This series concludes in detroit

    • protius - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      Count, chickens, hatch. Look into it.

  17. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Perhaps, now that they are out of Yankee Stadium, the Yankee hitters won’t all try to hit 8 run HR to the short porch with every swing. I would say with a flyball pitcher (Hughes) in a big ballpark (Detroit) against a team with HORRIBLE infield defense (also Detroit) this would be a good time to sit Swisher for Gardner. FWIW, Gardner has a .545 OBP against Verlander, and getting on base is all Brett needs to do.

    • detroitr1 - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Does your standard of ‘HORRIBLE’ infield defense include Peralta? I thought he made some good plays in New York. Some might say he was the reason why the Tigers won game 1.

  18. bigmeechy74 - Oct 16, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    So obvious the Yankees win tonight. It would be Too good to be true that they would just go away without a sweat.

  19. Kevin S. - Oct 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Is there any reason not to have everybody not named Ibanez or Teixeira bunt incessantly and force Cabrera/Fielder to charge repeatedly until they prove they can consistently get the runners out?

    • stex52 - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      My experience with seeing a lot of these sluggers bunt is they haven’t done it since Junior High and you will humiliate them while failing to lay it down. Witness: Hunter Pence trying to bunt. He looked like a heron trying to spear a crawfish.

      The basic idea of testing the defense may be sound, but all these mega-sluggers probably can’t do it anymore.

  20. joshuamoser - Oct 16, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Verlander has taken his game to another level during the playoffs this year. His determination, confidence and drive to win when it means the most is something that I haven’t seen since Michael Jordan. The Tigers haven’t been producing runs lately, but they are coming back into their home ball park to the DEAFENING cheers of MVP. And no, Tigers fans don’t boo their superstars when they strike out like the Yankees do. Expect Cabrera and Fielder to explode on offense tonight with the crowd providing the shot of adrenaline they need to get moving. Yankee hitters aren’t playing in their little league sized field tonight either. Tigers will go up 3 games to 0 and move in for the sweep tomorrow.

    2011 MVP/Cy Young + 2012 Triple Crown/MVP = 2012 World Series….. Even with Valverde lurking around.

  21. pappageorgio - Oct 16, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Tigers fan here……

    #1 reason Tig’s will win tonight….JV has a look in his eye that I have not seen from a pitcher since Randy Johnson with the Diamondbacks in ’01. The guy doesn’t look like he has in playoffs past….JV didn’t pitch this year to put up great stats in the regular season, he pitched to warm himself up for the games that count.

    #1 Reason the Yank’s could have a chance. I say “could”. IMO the reason the Tigers are 2-0 in this series (aside from great pitching) is that the Tig’s batters are playing station-to-station baseball. Move baserunners around and hope the guy behind you does the same. The yank’s have not been playing that way……batters have been playing “be the hero” ball. Everyone of them thinks he’s going to end the game with one big swing.

    But this is part of the reason yank’s bats could come to life. Comerica is so big that anyone can see that playing homerun-ball is a stupid and losing proposition. They need to look for the big holes in the outfield and play station to station. The reality of comerica could lead to some of the yank’s finding their bats because they stop trying to be heros and play team offense.

    I personally hope it doesn’t play out like that, but it could.

  22. xjokerz - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    well well..craig finally made a positive tiger post, but i dont see how you can say the bats cant slump forever..

    Arod has been in a slump since he admitted to using Steroids…thats not a slump..thats what he really is..trash.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 16, 2012 at 3:34 PM

      A-Rod admitted his PED use prior to the 2009 season. Between 2009 and 2010, he hit 60 homers and drove in 225 RBI.

      But go ahead and act like he has been useless since.

      • daviddmsvcp - Oct 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

        Who gives a crap what A-Rod did 3 years ago? He is stinking up the joint right now.

    • protius - Oct 16, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      xjokerz, you aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?

      As Mr. C wrote, Al admitted to using steroids prior to the 09 season, but he actually stopped using steroids before joining the Yankees, i.e., prior to the 2004 season.

      According to StatsHostedSolutions, in nine years, including the 2004 season to the 2012 season, Alex Rodriguez: Batted .291, hit 285 home runs, and has 987 RBIs, all without the aid of PEDs ( asp?id=5275).

      Hey, we still love ya.

      Stay the same, silly headcase you’ve always been.

  23. chetwynnr - Oct 16, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    The bullpens shouldn’t be a factor tonight unless somebody’s wheels fall off. The only way I see the Yankees winning is if Verlander gets lit up in the first few innings otherwise it’s going to be a looong night for the visiting team.

    I am hoping to see Fielder and Cabrera a little more patient at the plate. I haven’t see that much lunging at the plate since Thanksgiving at the in-laws.

  24. daviddmsvcp - Oct 16, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    I am a Yankee fan. This is a side effect of being born and raised in the Bronx.
    But the Yankees do not play consistently well, and you need to do that in the playoffs.
    So, the Yanks are a wounded fish, swimming in shark-infested waters. It’s just a matter of time….

    • protius - Oct 16, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      Do you have a point, or do you write inane text without a purpose?

      • daviddmsvcp - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        Hey protiius, are you having a bad day? I just read your other posts. You seem a little angry.

    • protius - Oct 16, 2012 at 9:30 PM


      You have a poor understanding of anger.

      This is what anger reads like: “Who gives a crap what A-Rod did 3 years ago? He is stinking up the joint right now.”

      This is a question, with a sarcastic opinion about pointless writing: “Do you have a point, or do you write inane text without a purpose?”

      This is how a sixth grader reacts after somebody makes fun of him: “I write what it pleases me to write.”

      This is me making fun of you for misspelling my name when it’s right in front of you.


      • daviddmsvcp - Oct 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        If you are not angry, you are agitated, or unhappy, or something. Edgy? Tense? Look man, something is up with you. You’re ragging on me, and on others. Take a chill pill. Get a hobby. Go for a walk.
        Or, you can just talk to me. :-)

      • protius - Oct 18, 2012 at 9:10 AM

        Dear Davidjghh*hggjbv%hjhr[p][!bd00)(4rty+h,

        Thank you for your kind concern, but I neither require a prescription, nor physical activities to occupy my spare time.

        Next. I’ve already established that you have a poor understanding of anger, and now, you have taken it upon yourself to demonstrate that you are unable to distinguish sarcasm from antagonism. You also suggest that I seek your council.

        The end result of that experience would definitely require a few prescriptions and a brief stay at a sanitarium to regain my composure.

        I think I’ll pass.

  25. daviddmsvcp - Oct 16, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    I write what it pleases me to write.

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