The Oakland series showed us how good Detroit’s pitching really is. Let’s take a look:
G1 (W): Justin Verlander, 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 11 K, 4 BB
G2 (W): Doug Fister, 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 K, 2 BB
G3 (L): Anibal Sanchez, 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 2 BB
G4 (L): Max Scherzer, 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 8 K, 1 BB
G5 (W): Justin Verlander, 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 11 K, 1 BB
Saturday against the Yankees, Fister pitched six beautiful innings, before handing off his shutout to closer Jose Valverde to finish the job. He gave up a two-run home run to Ichiro. While many called for the yank, manager Jim Leyland kept him in. In typical deja-vu fashion, Raul Ibanez, New York’s new Mr. October, took a 0-1 pitch up and out to tie the game 4-4.
Both teams battled on through the 11th, before Detroit’s Delmon Young doubled to deep right to bring in Cabrera in the 12th. Soon after, Don Kelly scored on an Andy Dirks single to put the Tigers up by two heading into the last half of the inning. Leyland looked to southpaw rookie Drew Smyly, who came in and closed the game in two innings on 29 pitches. With the exception of Valverde, who was shutdown by Leyland for game two, Detroit couldn’t be happier with how their pitchers stepped up.
Unfortunately, New York suffered a crushing blow in the defeat, losing Derek Jeter to a fractured ankle that he suffered on a ground ball in the 12th inning. It was announced shortly after he will be out for the remainder of the postseason. Not only have the Yankees lost their captain, but also their most productive hitter.
In game two, Detroit came out strong, this time behind the arm of Sanchez. His breaking pitches dropped off the table, leaving Yankee hitters frustrated. He showed great command through seven innings and shut down the Jeter-less Yankees 3-0.
Despite Detroit’s two-game advantage heading back home, New York, much like Oakland, won’t lie down. Detroit understands they are not a team to take lightly. This is a New York team that has 45 come-from-behind victories in the regular season — the most of any team in the major leagues. This is a team that won the East for the second consecutive season and took down the amazing Orioles. There is no question they will come out firing on all cylinders in Motown.
With Jeter out, the Yankees will shift their lineup to accommodate his absence. They’ve been frustrated with performances of their best hitters, most notably Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson. With Rodriguez and Swisher riding the pine for game three, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter’s replacement, Jayson Nix, will have to prove their worth.
Once again, the mental advantage is on Detroit’s side, and they know the measure of their success will be based on the performance of their arms. Pitching wins championships, and this team’s staff has really come through thus far.