The Detroit Tigers put the New York Yankees into an enormous hole with a 2-1 victory in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. The Tigers will only need one more win to clinch a spot in the World Series, and they do have the pleasure of playing the next two games at home at Comerica Park.
Justin Verlander was near-perfect on Tuesday night, tossing 8.1 innings of one-run baseball, only giving up a home run in the ninth to Eduardo Nunez. Delmon Young and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera provided all the offense that the Tigers would need as Phil Coke finished off the job in the ninth.
CC Sabathia and Max Scherzer will take the ball for their respective teams in Game 4 on Wednesday, as the Tigers will look to advance and get some time off while the Yankees will try to start a massive comeback.
Let's take a look at the grades for the Tigers and Yankees for Game 3.
Game 3 Stats: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Justin Verlander was classic Justin Verlander in Game 3. He was nearly untouchable and dominated his opponent. He retired the first nine Yankees in a row to open the game, and his perfect game ended in the fourth when Ichiro Suzuki singled off of him.
From there, the Yankees couldn’t get anything going as Verlander didn’t allow another baserunner until Suzuki came up in the seventh and singled again.
Verlander came out to finish the game in the ninth with well over 100 pitches, and the unlikeliest of power hitters, Eduardo Nunez, homered off of him to get the Yankees on the board late. Verlander retired Brett Gardner to narrow New York’s chances even further, but Jim Leyland came out and replaced him.
Overall, it just another day in the life of Verlander.
Game 3 Stats: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
A back injury kept Phil Hughes from throwing more than three innings, but he did pitch relatively well in the innings that he did pitch.
Hughes almost got into trouble in the bottom of the first inning, but he settled down in the second inning and retired the side in order. Austin Jackson got a one-out hit in the third and nearly scored to give the Tigers the lead, but Hughes got out of the jam when Prince Fielder lined out to center.
The fourth is when Hughes gave up the lead. Delmon Young hit a home run to start the inning. After a walk issued to Andy Dirks, Hughes was pulled from the game.
Game 3 Stats: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (Phil Coke)
Phil Coke nearly ruined this game after replacing Justin Verlander with one out in the ninth.
He got Ichiro Suzuki to ground out back to him for the second out, before allowing Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano (who broke an 0-of-29 stretch) with back-to-back singles. Luckily for him, Verlander and the Tigers, he struck out Raul Ibanez to clinch the victory for Detroit.
To say that he was close to blowing the save is an understatement.
Game 3 Stats:
David Phelps: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER (1 R)
Clay Rapada: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER
Cody Eppley: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Boone Logan: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K
Joba Chamberlain: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER
A ton of pressure fell on the shoulders of the bullpen when Phil Hughes was forced to leave the game in the fourth inning, but they did a great job keeping the game within reach.
The one run that David Phelps allowed wasn’t even his fault (throwing error by Eric Chavez), and beyond that one run, the entire bullpen was solid. Clay Rapada pitched well in relief of Phelps quickly thereafter, and then Cody Eppley finished off the fifth.
Eppley allowed two runners to get on base in the sixth, and Boone Logan got out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play by Miguel Cabrera. Logan tossed a perfect seventh and got the first two outs of the eighth before Joba Chamberlain finished off the inning.
1. Jackson, CF (1-3, BB)
2. Berry, LF (1-3, R)
3. Cabrera, 3B (1-3, 2B, RBI, BB)
4. Fielder, 1B (0-3, BB)
5. Young, DH (1-3, HR, RBI, BB)
6. Dirks, RF (0-3, BB)
7. Peralta, SS (0-4)
8. Avila, C (1-4)
9. Infante, 2B (1-4)
The Tigers weren’t great from the plate in Game 3, but they did do enough to score more runs than the Yankees did, even though they only scored twice.
Detroit found itself with opportunities to score, but the Yankees managed to get out of the inning on many of those occasions. Delmon Young got the scoring started in fourth when he led off with a solo shot off Phil Hughes.
Quintin Berry got the fun started in the fifth when he reached first on an error by Eric Chavez, and then proceeded to steal second. Miguel Cabrera came up and did what he does best, hit. Cabrera laced a double to right, scoring Berry and giving the Tigers a two-run lead.
That was it for the Tigers’ offense for the night, and despite being capable of getting runners across the plate, that clearly wasn’t the case in Game 3.
1. Gardner, LF (0-4)
2. Suzuki, RF (2-4)
3. Teixeira, 1B (1-4)
4. Cano, 2B (1-4)
5. Ibanez, DH (0-4)
6. Martin, C (0-3)
7. Chavez, 3B (0-3)
8. Granderson, CF (0-3)
9. Nunez, SS (1-3, HR, RBI)
It’s no easy task to have to face Justin Verlander on any given night, but the Yankees continued their struggles at the plate against him on Tuesday. They only squandered two hits off of him in the first eight innings of the game, both coming from the bat of Ichiro Suzuki.
Sure, Eduardo Nunez did homer off of Verlander in the ninth, but the Yankees couldn’t complete the two-run comeback and dropped their third straight to the Tigers. Robinson Cano finally ended his hitless streak with a hit in the ninth, his first in 30 chances. That’s a good sign going forward, but it just wasn’t enough.
The Tigers did exactly what they had to do in Game 3, and that was to win it. They have taken a commanding 3-0 lead in the series and are now in cruise control going forward.
Justin Verlander was dominant on the mound, and Phil Coke closed out the Yankees in the ninth. The bats got the job done and got Verlander the runs he needed to put the game out of reach. Delmon Young hit his second home run of the series and Miguel Cabrera doubled home a run. Scoring a couple insurance runs would’ve been nice, but it was enough on Tuesday night.
The Yankees are in big, big trouble after losing Game 3. They’re going to have to pull off the near impossible, winning the next four games in a row with two of them being on the road. The most that they can hope for is to get the series back to New York. For now, though, they have to win Game 4. That has to be their main focus.
Losing Phil Hughes in the fourth inning was big, but it’s the Yankees bats that continued to be silent. The bullpen did a fine job once Hughes left, and it wasn’t their fault that they lost. Instead, it’s all on the offense. The Yankees have to hit if they’re going to come back in this series. For now, that seems like quite the long shot that they get going.