Detroit Tigers Beat NY Yankees 2-1 Behind Elite Pitching from Justin Verlander

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

The Detroit Tigers took a commanding 3-0 ALCS lead over the New York Yankees with a 2-1 victory behind a dominant performance from Justin Verlander Tuesday night.

With rain beating down on Comerica Park, the Tigers took one more giant step toward a World Series berth.

The Yankees tried to fight back in the ninth with an Eduardo Nunez solo home run, knocking Verlander out of the game in the process. Mark Teixeira followed that with a single up the middle, and Robinson Cano followed that with another single.

But with two runners on and two outs, Phil Coke was able to strike out this year's Mr. Clutch, Raul Ibanez to end the game.

Despite the dramatic ending, Verlander did his usual thing, allowing one run in 8.1 innings, striking out three and walking no one. If it wasn't for Nunez's solo shot, Verlander would have been flawless.

He was so strong to start the game, USA Today writer Bob Nightengale felt compelled to tweet this:

Nine up, nine down for Verlander, and only 32 pitches. The Hall of Fame is standing by for a few souvenirs. #Tigers #Yankees

— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 17, 2012

Hall of Fame or not, Verlander kept the Yankees offense in check for most of the night. He wasn't given a ton of run support, but a few timely Detroit hits ensured that his dazzling start wouldn't go unrewarded.

According to reporter Jay Scott Smith, the Yankees' hitting woes shouldn't have surprised anyone:

28 consecutive innings w/out a run against #Tigers pitching, 34 w/out an EARNED run. Good Grief. 2-0 DET after 5 and a Half. #ALCS

— Jay Scott Smith (@JayScottSmith) October 17, 2012

That number wound up dying at 29, but the statistic is still horrifying for Yankees faithful.

Detroit's scoring started with a solo shot by Delmon Young in the fourth inning. Not only did Young give the Tigers a 1-0 lead, but check out this fact from Sporting News senior baseball editor Chris Bahr:

Delmon Young HR makes it 1-0 #Tigers in 4th. So weird to think he is franchise's all-time leader in postseason HRs with 7. #ALCS

— Chris Bahr (@ChrisBahr_SN) October 17, 2012

Following Young's home run, Yankees starter Phil Hughes was lifted from the game with an apparent back injury. David Phelps came in relief, tossing a scoreless fourth frame.

But Phelps wouldn't be so lucky in the fifth. After Quintin Berry reached first on an error by Eric Chavez, the speedster swiped second base. That set up Miguel Cabrera with a runner in scoring position, something no one in New York wants to see.

Cabrera delivered like a Triple Crown winner should, smacking a double to right-center field to score Berry from second.

Nunez was able to make things interesting in the game's final frame, but Coke was able to nail down the game's final two outs.

Verlander was on cruise control. He's known for getting stronger as games progress, and he didn't disappoint. He needed a little help from Coke, but Detroit's win is still owed largely to his lights-out presence on the bump.

The Yankees' offensive struggles at this point are staggering. No one, not even Cano, is hitting the ball. Finishing with five hits on the night is disheartening, especially when two of them come from one player.

Entering Game 4, you have to wonder about the Yankees bullpen. After Phelps was lifted, Clay Rapada, Cody Eppley, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan all saw the mound. That doesn't leave the Yanks with many fresh options in Wednesday's possible eliminator.

CC Sabathia will try and keep his team alive in a decisive Game 4, while Max Scherzer looks to seal the deal for the Tigers. Tune in to TBS at 8 p.m. ET to catch all the action at Comerica Park.