Game 2012 Playoffs.6: Tigers at Yankees

4 wins away from the WS. 8 wins away from a championship.

A few weeks ago, I asked everyone how far would the Tigers have to advance in the playoffs for you to want to bring Leyland back? I said I’d be happy if he went deep into the ALCS, and it looks like there’s a good chance that happens…what was your response? Be honest now.

Honestly, I like our chances in this series. Our starting pitching has been remarkable since early September. The four starters posted a sub 1.50 ERA in the ALDS. Yes, it was against the Oakland Athletics, a team that batted .238 with a .714 OPS during the regular season. But that explains a 3.25 or 2.75 ERA, not 1.50. Fister, Sanchez, Verlander and Fister vs. Pettitte, Kuroda, Sabathia and Hughes.

And as bad at the Tigers bats seemed against the As (I can’t remember more than 5 RBIs on hits), they were actually the best offense of the 4 ALDS teams. Cabrera, who has reached base in all 16 of his post-season games with the Tigers, won’t be shut down like that again. Once he gets going, the rest of the guys will too.

Now, the bullpen is an issue. Or the back of the bullpen is an issue. I think that Leyland will go with Benoit and Valverde until they each blow another one, and then I think he’ll stick with them in their designated innings, but with Dotel looking over their shoulder. Not what I want him to do, but that’s what I think he’ll do.

Would you classify Tigers/Yankees as a rivalry? I certainly wouldn’t, but 3 playoff match-ups in 7 years isn’t bad. Pretty legit that the Tigers have been to the ALCS 3 times in the last 7 years, which speaks to the talents of Verlander and Santiago. Actually, since 2006, only the Yankees and Tigers have made 3 ALCS appearances. Selective sampling, I know, but perhaps Dombrowski and Leyland deserve more credit than we give them.

On to tonight’s game – 8pm Eastern on TBS. Fister v. Pettitte.

Andy Pettitte came out of hiding in May (I guess Clemens finally accepted the retraction) to pitch phenomenally, if only on a limited basis, for the Yankees this year. Pettitte started 12 games and finished with a 5-4 record, a 2.87 ERA, and a 1.14 WHIP. That said, he had pretty significant R/L splits, with righties posting a .245 ERA and .681 OPS against .202 and .516 for lefties. In terms of playoff experience, Andy Pettitte is a triple secret black belt. He’s amassed well over a season’s worth of innings, 270, and has an impressive 19-11 postseason record with a 3.83 ERA. Fister has 24 career postseason IPs, and a 2-1 record and 4.13 ERA.

Fister followed up a marvelous September (3-1, 2.34 ERA) with a good start in game 2 of the ALDS. Roughly a year ago he started game 5 of the ALDS in New York, and held the Yankees to 1 ER over 5 innings, earning a W. He may need to go a bit deeper tonight, but I don’t think that nerves will be a problem.

The Tigers were 4-6 against the evil empire this year, 3-4 there, and 1-2 at Comerica. Cabrera (4-12, 2 HR), Peralta (6-16, 3) and Young (11-19) all mash against Pettitte.

A few notes:

– Roster stays the same for the ALCS. Still wondering why Santiago is on there. I guess it’s a 2006 thing.

– If you think that the baseball nation knows anything about baseball, then things are looking good for the Tigers. According to an ESPN poll, 61% of sportsnation thinks the Tigers will win, and the majority feel that the Tigers have the better hittiers and starting pitching.

– For those of you who are in to Fangraphs (like I am), here’s a nice long run down on the series.

– Due to an internal glitch, the Nationals sent their fans a WS pre-sale notice this morning, just hours after the most heartbreaking loss in franchise history. So you know when people say “well, it can’t get any worse than this?” They’re wrong.

Tonight’s Tone Setting Lineup:

1. Jackson, CF
2. Infante, 2B
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Young, DH
6. Peralta, SS
7. Dirks, LF
8. Garcia, RF (my pick to click)
9. Laird, C

185 thoughts on “Game 2012 Playoffs.6: Tigers at Yankees”

  1. Ok boys…here we go. Like last year and in 2006, get ready for the national media to go for the Yankees. If they lose, it won’t be a result of the Tiger’s play. Rather, some Yankee problem. So, let’s quietly go about our business and win this series. Enjoy….we all have earned it….Always a Tiger, OTFIM.

  2. Does anyone else think that ALDS celebrations are a little silly?

    I remember what Dirk said at the trophy presentation after the Mavs beat OKC in 2011 to advance to the NBA Finals – “thanks, but I already have one of these.”

    1. I think typically they are. Especially if you’re a favorite or been there before. Like if the A’s had won and gone nuts, or the O’s, I think it’s probably more acceptable. Like the Tigers in 2006 against Murderer’s Row and Cano

          1. Even better played, now I am getting thirsty (although if you are pairing with rally celery, I’d go with a white).

  3. Honestly? I am on record as supporting Leyland – even before the Central Division Championship and the ALDS victory. I hope that Jim is back next year. It would be inconvenient to get used to a new pretender/manager. And besides, Leyland is “the acknowledged gold standard when it comes to managers.” This from a knowledgable MLB TV commentator. Fellow DTW followers who have not supported Mr. Leyland this season, please feel free to jump on the Leyland Train/Band Wagon before it leaves the station. Space provided below.

    Go Tigers!!

    1. Let’s hope it’s tight for NY too, and not toaster-sized, as oft happens in Yankee Stadium.

  4. A tight strike zone NEVER affects the Tiger hitters..only the opposition…its not like the Tigers are going to suddenly start taking pitches……just sayin

    1. good observation…DET hitters need to wake up the the strike zone Kellogg is calling. NY hitters are.

    1. A flare, an infield single and a tight strike zone. I don’t think this is all on Fister. He’ll be okay.

  5. the baseball Gods are being kind to Fister and DET tonight…so far…not advisable to pushing their luck.

    Peralta has been HUGE in the field thus far.

  6. Someone should remind Delmon he’s in a contract year and that having a clue at the plate when you’re a designated hitter might be helpful.

  7. Fister looks a little out of synch, as I mentioned earlier, but perhaps it just seems that way because we still have memories of JV’s masterpiece dancing through out heads. We will not see another pitcher have such dominant control over the strike zone in a long time. That was just special. And the fact is, Fister is holding his own so far, too. It’s our offense that has yet to make it to the ball park. But I am confident it will …

  8. AJax is the spark plug for this engine.

    Not crazy about Cabrera’s gamble there, but I love how he committed and took home.

  9. Cosentino Pinor Noir got us 2 runs as the bottle died a hero. On to Sonoma Cutrer from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County.

  10. I almost just got really excited there, then I was hit with a realization that 2 innings of Benoit and Valverde lay ahead.

  11. unFREAKIN believable!

    and as elated as i am by Fister’s clutch pitching performance, he’s up to 96 pitches and why am i feeling ‘fear’ (valverde)?

    1. Um, because 2 BP relievers with the short RF porch will do that to you. Still, huge inning, and nobody is happier than Omar Infante.

  12. Fister just punches out Jeter…then Ichiro (he didn’t check that swing), and he’s got a great rythm going…i don’t get the Coke move

  13. That stat they just showed – wow. In the 10 games between the teams this season, Yankees scored 24 runs in the 7th on, Tigers scored 10.

  14. VERY hittable pitch. You simply can’t use Valverde in close situations anymore. He’s only got 1 pitch, and it’s not that good.

  15. No team can make the World Series with a blowpen. Leyland knew he had one, and could not adjust. He just could not pull the trigger.

  16. Imagine what it must feel like to be a Tiger starter. Pitching shutout ball gives you maybe a 50/50 chance at a W.

  17. I like JL but man, that just didn’t have to happen. This isn’t April. It’s the GD ALCS! After the 1st HR, it was over. Just over.

  18. A rule of Leylands is never let the best player of the other team beat you…..and it happened in oakland and the hottest player again tonight…..

  19. One thing for sure if the blow pen continues this is over in 4…we wont have to worry about how good the starter did…they don’t go nine you lose

  20. It is truly difficult to get all four of your fat guys to play well at the same time. One of them is always going to gout the bed.

  21. One thing for sure if the blow pen continues this is over in 4…we wont have to worry about how good the starter did…they don’t go nine you loseevery game

  22. Every commentator I have read over the last couple of days have said don’t put in Valverde again. I love Leyland, but that was just stubborn bs!

      1. I usually come off as a shill for Leyland around this crowd, but I wouldn’t have left him in either. I was really surprised to see Valverde pitch to the tying run.

        On the plus side, I don’t think it will ever happen again. Leyland is extremely loyal because he understands that you can cause major morale problems if you give up on a guy too quickly, but he doesn’t stick with a guy forever. He shortened Valverde’s leash by warming up Dotel almost immediately. Next time, the leash will be even shorter. If the problems continue, Valverde will be confined to the doghouse and not a single guy on the roster (including Valverde) will argue the decision.

  23. I am a diehard Phillies’ fan pulling for the Tigers. I can’t believe Leyland allowed that Little League pitcher stay in the game when he had nothing from the outset. I have no skin in the game, but I am tired of teams ie Reds, Nats & Orioles blowing games against retreads. It looks like Leyland and Valverde will be improving their handicaps in the off season. Play to win and not to lose. Please leave this game in the hands of real professionals. Good Luck Tigers.

      1. BTW – are you free to manage a major league baseball club, potentially over the next few weeks?

        1. Thanks Kevin. I’ve been out of baseball for several years now, but still recognize when a pitcher has nothing and when it is time to yank him. Per your comment, I’ve been approached several times to manage. I wouldn’t have a stomach left if I did.

          1. Oh, sorry about the Rangers. They had it all and I thought they would do it. Where was Josh? I saw Ron Washington working on his golf game. I am ready to take it over for the great state of Texas.

            1. I think the team was really sick of Hamilton’s antics. Notice how no one came to his defense during Red Bull gate. Brought the clubhouse down. Their farm system is stocked, they’ll be good for a long time.

  24. Ok…it has been 2 innings and our blood pressure meds have kciked in. Come on money players…let’s get about three runs!

  25. Wow – way to step up Smyly. We really need to get a run here – feels like we’re hanging on to this by a thread…

  26. Great job Smily….this kind on has to help the Tigers wear out the Yankees pitching…it doesn’t matter if the blow pen is rested enough…lets go 18

  27. I think you leave Smyly in with the lefties/switch hitters coming up. Go to Al Al if Smyly gets into trouble.

  28. I gotta say, Avila looks much more comfortable at the plate in the playoffs than he did during the season.

  29. If only the rules of baseball allowed us to bring out Valverde for another try this inning (ducks bottles, tomatoes, eggs, and various unidentifiable objects).

  30. Do you think the outcome would have been different if the Yankee crowd had the excitment of an Oakland crowd? Good win Boys! Sorry to see the rollercoaster!

  31. GAme 1 audition for closer: Valverde 0, Smyly 1. Could we retrain Smyly as a closer? I sure like his unpretentious behaviour, he just goes down to do business. Not that smooth business sometimes, but still – better than showboating around.

  32. Nothing finer than a comeback xtra inning W against the Suckees! And now it’s time for Horse Racing in Kyoto (kiss my $$$ sayonara!)

  33. There’s plenty of bullpen without using Benblow and Valblow…..use everyone else they all did fine including Coke

  34. Made a victory drink in the bottom of the 9th, didn’t start on it after the leadoff single.

    Tastes amazing now.

  35. Could we have won a game and replaced Valverde as closer at the same time?

    I don’t think we go to a closer, everything is situational.

    1. Agree…I rather beat the Yankees at full steam. Jeter is too good of a guy for this to happen to him. He quietly goes about his business with no drama. Speed recovery wishes.

  36. Yankees are toast. Valverde tried to give them this game at home yet the lost anyway. Good job Smyly. Way to step up… Closer by committee? I think there’s no way Valverde should ever pitch again

    1. I would love that. Watching MLB network to see if Leyland answers that question during post-game interviews. I mean, he has to, right?

      Eckersley said on TBS that he wouldn’t change Benoit/Valverde. Too late.

      1. Mitch Williams said closer by committee. Also gave a great demonstration on how you have to change your splitter grip in cold weather. Though he didn’t give any advice on how to stop throwing 92 MPH fastballs down the middle of the plate.

  37. Apparently Leyland said that he’s going to have a meeting with his staff first, then he’ll make a decision on Big Potato.

  38. IMHO, only thing DJ ever did wrong was breaking up with Minka Kelly..wish him a quick recovery, and we will see him next year

  39. Does anyone remember that Valverde also blew at least two of what should have been wins 18 and 19 for the other JV? Including the season opener!

    Sun rises in the east, sky is blue, there is great weather in Hawaii, and Valverde blows a save. All part of the natural order of the universe.

  40. Last night’s game seemed more like a Twilight Zone episode than a playoff game. I don’t recall seeing that much drama and weird stuff packed into one playoff game…ever! Who ever said ‘baseball is a boring sport’, needs to watch that game. About the most predictable thing about the game was the whole Valverde-thing (for many Tiger fans anyway).

    The so-called “b-ball Gods” must have had a field day messing with both team’s (and fans) emotions. Even today, it still seems like a weird dream.

    Bummer about Jeter; no fan likes to see any injuries at this stage, even to the ‘other team’…and if a DET fan “had to choose” one player to succumb to a season-ending injury, i doubt anybody would select Jeter…hell, it wouldn’t even be a Yankee, but rather a certain portly reliever.

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