Game 2012 Playoffs.8: Yankees at Tigers

2 more to the WS, 6 more to a championship.

How’s everyone doing out there? Feeling pretty good?

I sure am. I don’t think I can get enough of the MLB Network these days, though Dan Pleasac breaking down Paws’ YMCA dance did seem like they had run out of things to discuss.

Game 3 tonight in the D, Phil Hughes v. Justin Verlander. My prediction is 5-2 Tigers. But I do have a few concerns.

Concern #1) The lineup shakeup. Rodriguez and Swisher have been very easy outs – a combined 3-15 with 0 XBH. Gardner, especially at the top of the lineup, could be the spark the Yankees need. Remember, he was 7-17 in last year’s ALDS.

Concern #2) The Yankees are the Yankees. They won an AL best 95 games this year, and their 804 runs scored were 2nd in the Majors (Texas 808). That’s 98 more runs than the Tigers, or .6 more per game. Cano will get a hit at some point in time.

Concern #3) Leyland goes with his gut. Hughes’ reverse splits are ridiculous (.211 BAA, 2.32 ERA v Lefties, .308 BAA, 6.54 ERA v Righties), yet Leyland stacks the lineup with lefties. Who knows what else he may do tonight.

Concern #4) It can’t be this easy, can it? I mean, JV goes to 3-0, the Tigers up are 3-0, with 2 games left at home?

But here’s why we do win:

1) Phil Hughes isn’t that good. After a rough April and May, Phil Hughes showed glimpses of the front line starter the Yankees thought he could be. He went 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA in June, and 2-2 with a 3.09 ERA in July with a combined 1.06 WHIP and 58 Ks in 68 IPs against only 16 walks. But he regressed a bit in August as his BAA went up and Ks went down, and then blew up in September with a 5.19 ERA. For the season he was 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He had a great outing against Baltimore last week, allowing only 1 ER in 6 2/3 in a game 4 no-decision (Os won in 13). He faced the Tigers twice this year, pitching a complete game gem on June 3 when he allowed only 1 ER and struck out 8, and then was pounded for 8 hits and 4 ER in 4 1/3 on August 7th. Cabrera is 9-22 with 4 HRs off of Hughes, and Jhonny Defender is 10-20

2) The Tigers will hit again. Other than Jhonny (.852), no one has a playoff OPS higher than .732.  This won’t last.

3) Justin Verlander. JV is 1-0 with a 5.02 ERA against the Yankees with 17 Ks over 14.1 IP in 3 career post-season starts, but I expect him to be much better tonight. He struck out 11 in each of his first 2 playoff starts, and his .75 WHIP is topped only by his .56 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting .130.

4) I like our bullpen. Fangraphs posted a long piece yesterday which states that the Tigers’ pen really isn’t that bad, and concluded that it is likely mismanaged. The author took a particular liking to Al Al. Get in line. Phil Coke was phenomenal on Sunday night, allowing only 1 hit and throwing a ridiculous 23/28 strikes over 2 innings in saving game 2. Coke joins Guillermo Hernandez (you may know him as Willie) as the only pitchers in Tigers post-season history to register as 2+ inning save. The entire pen should be well rested tonight, though I’d be surprised to see Coke go more than 1 or 2 batters. (Note that Leyland hasn’t said whether Valverde will be used in a save situation tonight.)

Remember, as good as we feel about JV tonight, if the Yankees can eek out a win, they’ve got CC Sabathia going tomorrow, and they might be feeling that 2-2 is right around the corner. So let’s not take anything for granted.

A few notes:

- ARod and Swisher are out, Chavez and Gardner are in. This is Gardner’s 1st start since April 17th. Rodriguez was 4-6 off of JV this year, but on a 0-18 streak against righties.

- JL has made the post-season 7 times in 21 years of frustrating fans.

- Marcelo Carreno is the PTBNL in the Jeff Baker trade from August 5th.

- WS tickets go on sale tomorrow morning. They are only good if the Tigers win 2 more games.

Tonight’s 3-0 Lineup:

1. Jackson, CF
2. Berry, LF
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Young, DH
6. Dirks, RF
7. Peralta, SS
8. Avila, C
9. Infante, 2B

54 Comments

  1. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Nice post, Kevin. Anticipation is off the scale here.

    Time to put the hurt on an opposing starter for a change. It’s been a while.

  2. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    October 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Hey! Its good to be back home again!

  3. Jim Leyland

    October 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Reverse splits are exaggerated. I like guys who knock ‘em in.

    And before you make any more wise ass comments, Valverde is an important member of this team who we have to get going, and is my 9th inning guy and he is going to pitch tonight because we have to get him going.

    • Tom in Lakelanjd

      October 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Classy comment!

  4. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Nice. Good Verlander 1st, and Tigers are hitting it beyond the infield. Very good sign.

  5. Vince in MN

    October 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Two quick and easy innings for JV (20 pitches).

  6. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Omar the rally starter should get things going now.

  7. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Hitting but not scoring, it appears. I’m still optimistic.

  8. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Delmon! Let the thrashing begin.

  9. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    October 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Delmon’s Uncle is a guard at our lab. Tomorrow I will bring him a Homerun Faygo (Rock ‘n Rye)!

  10. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Hughes gone after only 3? What’s up with that? No fair.

  11. PHToy in HK

    October 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    What happened?

  12. Vince in MN

    October 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    What happened to Hughes?

    • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

      October 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Left to watch the debate?

      • Smoking Loon

        October 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm

        Good one.

        Please, please, tell us, someone.

  13. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    October 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Good pitch count for JV!

  14. Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

    October 16, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Tigers have hit Phelps for 2 runs in the 12th inning of Game 1.

    • Smoking Loon

      October 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Doesn’t seem especially strong so far.

  15. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Great game so far for Verlander. I should stop wringing my hands over the batters and just appreciate him. Tiger fans may not see his like again in my lifetime.

    Then again, I’m 105.

    • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

      October 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Ok Gramps…who do you think is the number starter for the Tigers? I am going with Scherzer with Fister a very close third.

      • Only Tiger Fan in Mississippi

        October 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm

        Number two starter!

        • Tom in Lakeland

          October 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm

          Scherzer, Fister, and Sanchez could all compete for # 2 starter next year.

  16. PHToy in HK

    October 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Intentionally walking Delmon?!?

  17. tom in troy

    October 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Craig Sager of TBS reported or “tweeted” that a herniated lumbar disc was the reason for Phil Hughes’ exit from the game.

  18. Kevin in Dallas

    October 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    This is awesome.

  19. jud

    October 16, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    This 2-0 look familiar…seems every game in the playoffs has been 2-0 in the or 7th

  20. jud

    October 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    But here in the 8th let the real game begin!..

  21. Coleman

    October 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    OK, this is quite random, but just talked to someone who says she knows Jim Leyland’s brother…he’s a priest.

    • Tom in Lakeland

      October 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Totally true,

  22. jud

    October 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Now….let the real game begin!…

  23. Vince in MN

    October 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    JV hung a curve. He should have stuck with the fastball.

    • tom in troy

      October 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      no question. Nunez was all over the first 2 curves from JV. A little surprising but no complaints. JV is other wordly.

  24. jud

    October 16, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I think i am ok with this….for now

  25. jud

    October 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Coke needs to be post season Coke

    • Vince in MN

      October 16, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Well, he was for one batter.

  26. Doug of troy

    October 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I’d stay with Verlander.

  27. Coleman

    October 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    As Scooby Doo once said…ruh roh

  28. Kevin in Dallas

    October 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Come on Coke, 1 out at a time.

  29. Kevin in Dallas

    October 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Nice Coke!!

  30. jud

    October 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Wow¡!!!!!!!,,,!,!

  31. jud

    October 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Only slider of the inning….K

  32. tom in troy

    October 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Perhaps we have found a closer??

  33. Jim Eggers

    October 16, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    BIG Lefty Again! Going to sip on my ever present Diet Coke and watch it all over again, cuz I can… JV is a God like Pitcher !

  34. Vince in MN

    October 16, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Coke inherits the “Closer” mantle, a title which requires all save attempts to be “interesting.”

  35. Kevin in Dallas

    October 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Coke-erde!

    • PHToy in HK

      October 17, 2012 at 1:15 am

      Have a Coke and a smile!

  36. KW

    October 17, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Guys, I’m excited, but I’m a little worried about the Tigers’ inability to score runs. Their starting pitching has been unbelievable, but if they’re going to get to the World Series and win it, they have to start hitting.

    • Vince in MN

      October 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Perhaps part of the reason that the Tigers haven’t scored much is that OAK and NYY staffs are pretty good.

  37. Chris

    October 17, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Wow! What a PS our starting pitching is having. They are locked-in. JV is PO MVP. Closer by comitee (aka Coke) isnt terrible… a little scary tonite, but got the job done.

    Hopefully our hitting can get going.

  38. jud

    October 17, 2012 at 1:49 am

    one huge intangible that we kind of take for granted it………The Tigers find a way to get it done”…..doesn’t matter who, how, or who does it……they have been finding a way in all games they must win

  39. StorminNorman

    October 17, 2012 at 7:46 am

    OUTSTANDING outcome… never a doubt, right? ;) Don’t want to sound like Captain Obvious, but DET needs to close out NYY before their slumbering bats wake up.

    Sabathia/lefty pitching today, and DET hitters have struggled against lefties. Yesterday DET hitters left 17 on-base (and Lamont left one); going to have to convert better today… i don’t think DET can continue to rely on starters shutting-out NYY.

    • William

      October 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      great point.

      for all the praise (well deserved) being heaped upon our starters, the Yankee starters have only given up, what, 7 runs in 3 games?

      we need to rock CC early and make them want to head to the airport.

      • StorminNorman$

        October 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

        Sabathia was stellar in the BAL series, one complete game and the other 8 2/3 IN gem, giving up 1 and 2 ER respectively (120 & 121 pitches) – .190 avg against.

        CC has won 8 out of his last 9 starts. Against DET this year, he’s 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA, 20 K’s over 21.2 IN. DET hitters have to make him throw strikes – if he’s locating well a/o the ump is giving him the corners, its going to be tough to beat him. If he gets ahead in the count 0-2, fogettabotit, hitters are hitting .120.

        Probably the most positive stat for DET against him is that at Comerica he has a 3.95 ERA this year, giving up 16 H in 13.2 IN. Also with the bases loaded this yr, hitters are batting .333 against him.

  40. StorminNorman$

    October 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    looks like rain is going to factor in tonight’s game, if its played…appears a rather substantial system coming in to MI/DET from the SW carrying a fair amount of moisture