Tigers 3, Yankees 0 (box score)
New York Yankees’ starter Hiroki Kuroda, who was pitching on short rest, took a perfect game into sixth inning (where he surrendered a hit to Jhonny Peralta), but the New York offense couldn’t muster any runs off of Anibal Sanchez (who was pitching nearly as well). Kuroda struck out 11, walked none, and scattered five hits across 7.2 masterful innings, but ended up taking the loss.
The Tigers got the offense going in the seventh inning when Quintin Berry hit a ground rule doubled to deep center to lead off the inning. Miguel Cabrera followed with a single to shallow right field which pushed Berry over to third. Kuroda got Prince Fielder to go down swinging and induced a ground ball from Delmon Young, but Robinson Cano wasn’t able to turn the double play which allowed Berry to come home.
They added on two more controversial runs in the eighth inning. Peralta and Alex Avila struck out to begin the inning, but Omar Infante was able to poke a single to extend the inning. Austin Jackson followed with a single of his own to right field, but Infante took large turn at second and Nick Swisher gunned the ball to the base to try to gun him down. It was ruled that he made it back to the bag safely, but video replay clearly showed that Infante was tagged by Cano well before he touched the base. It wasn’t really even close. The blown call kept the inning alive and Infante and Jackson eventually came around to score on base hits by Avisail Garcia (who was pinch hitting for Berry) and Cabrera. We’ll hear about the blown call non-stop for the next two days (at least) but the fact remains that New York failed to score any runs of their own. Without scoring the game still would have ended 1-0.
Speaking of the Yankee’s paltry offense, Anibal Sanchez pitched a whale of a game. He scattered three hits and three walks across seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. He stayed out of trouble all afternoon – he only allowed two runners to get into scoring position – and dug deep to make big pitches to keep the Yankees from mounting any sort of threat.
Sanchez’s superb day means the Tigers just took a turn through the playoff rotation in which none of the starters allowed an earned run. That covers four games and 28.1 innings. In fact, Tigers’ starters have allowed just five earned runs in seven starts this postseason (48.2 innings) for a stellar 0.92 ERA. That’s quite unbelievable.
There was much anticipation to find out what Jim Leyland would do in the ninth inning after Jose Valverde‘s most recent implosion. Leyland insisted that he’d mix and match and go off of matchups, and that’s more or less what he did. Phil Coke pitched the eighth inning against two lefties and a switch hitter, and sent down Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira down 1-2-3. Leyland left him in the game in the ninth to face lefty Raul Ibanez, who he struck out, and then righty Russell Martin, who he struck out, and stuck with him following an Alex Rodriguez single to face lefty Curtis Granderson. Coke got Granderson to strike out swinging to successfully record the two-inning save.
I don’t think this means that Coke is “the closer” now, but we’ll probably see him get the next shot in this series considering how many lefties the Yankees employ in their lineup. Joaquin Benoit was up and throwing in the eighth, so it appears that Leyland would have gone to him had Coke gotten himself into trouble. Ocatvio Dotel has also been mentioned as a possibility to be part of the “closer committee”, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Al Alburquerque in the mix as well. We’ll have to see about all of that.
The idea of Sanchez pitching game two in New York wasn’t particularly appealing, but he was just about as good as it gets tonight. The series now moves to Detroit where Justin Verlander will pitch game three and Max Scherzer game four. Things won’t get any easier for the scuffling Yankees offense.