2012 ALCS: Justin Verlander Dominant Again as Tigers on Brink of Sweep

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2012 ALCS: Justin Verlander Dominant Again as Tigers on Brink of Sweep
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Verlander continues to exorcise past playoff failures

This looks, well it looks far too easy. Justin Verlander was dominant again this postseason, going the 8 1/3 innings of three hit ball for his third victory in these playoffs, as the Detroit Tigers defeated the New York Yankees 2-1.

With the win, the Tigers moved to within one game of a stunning sweep and their second World Series berth since 2006.

Delmon Young's second solo-blast of the series, making it 1-0 off Phil Hughes in the fourth inning, gave Verlander all he would need for eight innings. 

Hughes would depart shortly thereafter with a back injury. And while the Yankee bullpen was solid the rest of the night (5 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, one unearned run), it ultimately did not matter because Verlander stymied New York's offense.

As a matter of fact, the only hitter to reach base until the ninth inning was Ichiro Suzuki, who went 2 for 3 with a pair of harmless singles.  Eduardo Nunez hit a solo home-run to left field in the top of the ninth to cut the deficit to one.

Verlander only struck out three, but in many ways was more dominant against a more balanced Yankees lineup than the one he overpowered in Oakland six nights ago. Mixing his fastball with a change-up all night, the Yankee hitters simply could not square up the ball for the first eight innings. 

The insurance for Detroit came by way of MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera, whose double in the fifth plated Quintin Berry.

Berry reached to start the inning on an error by third baseman Eric Chavez, who was playing for the benched Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez and Nick Swisher were benched by New York manager Joe Girardi in an obvious move to get some production out of those spots in the order.

It obviously did not work.

Having extended Detroit's starting pitchers scoreless innings streak to an incredible 30 1/3 innings before letting up a home-run to Nunez, Verlander managed to retire Brett Gardner on a tapper back towards the mound to get out number one. 

Detroit manager Jim Leyland then removed him after his 132nd and final pitch.  Phil Coke then retired Suzuki and gave up a pair of singles to Mark Teixiera and Robinson Cano (snapping his 0 for 29 slump in the postseason).

But with the tying run in scoring position, Coke bounced back and struck out Raul Ibanez on a 3-2 slider to end the game.

Ho-hum.

With the win, Detroit is in position to sweep its way into the World Series for the second time in seven years.To do so, they will have to beat Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

The Tigers will counter with Max Scherzer as they attempt to win the American League pennant.

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