DETROIT -- The Yankees' bizarro lineup is in and Justin Verlander is ready to take the mound for the Tigers in Game Three of the ALCS. MLB credential rules prohibit play-by-play updates (you can follow the pitch-by-pitch here) but we'll have plenty of inning-by-inning thoughts here.
Recapping the lineups:
Yankees: Gardner cf; Ichiro, rf; Teixeira, 1b; Cano, 2b; Ibanez, dh; Martin, c; Chavez, 3b; Granderson, cf; Nunez, ss
Tigers: Jackson, cf; Berry, lf; Cabrera, 3b; Fielder, 1b; Young, dh; Dirks, rf; Peralta, ss; Avila, c; Infante, 2b
End-1st (0-0): The first pitch from Verlander to Gardner, a 94-mph fastball, was taken for a strike at 8:08 p.m. The temperature is 53 degrees with a chilly breeze. The Yankees were retired 1-2-3 (4-3, K, F8) on nine pitches. So much for working any counts. Hughes gave up a single to Berry and a walk to Fielder but got out of the inning on a screamer to right by Young. Hughes needed 18 pitches and the Tigers were making good contact.
End-2nd (0-0): So much for the Yankees' strategy to work counts. Verlander has retired all six men he's faced on only 20 pitches. Hughes was much better in the second, going 1-2-3 as well. All the offense in the NLCS has looked funky compared to this series. No question two runs likely enough for Verlander if the Tigers can swing them.
End-3rd (0-0): Verlander making it look stupid easy. Nine up, nine down, 33 pitches, 24 strikes. Chavez had the best at-bat yet, working the count full before lofting a fly ball to center. The wind is picking up (temp dropping) and it's blowing in. Too much acreage here. Your only chance for a HR is down the lines.
Hughes is starting to struggle but still making key out pitches. He allowed a one-out single to Jackson and a walk to Cabera (who was down 0-2). Fielder then took three balls before cracking the 3-0 pitch on a line to Granderson for the third out. Hughes at 50-30. Huge for him to escape there.
Mid-4th (0-0): Gardner popped out on a full-count pitch. Ichiro went 3-0/3-2 and then lined a single through the left side to end the perfect game on Verlander's 48th pitch. But Teixeira popped foul to third (great running catch by Cabrera who had a long way to do while in the shift) and can made it 0-for-28 by bouncing in a force. Verlander at 54 pitches through four. Leyland's plan for a closer will be Verlander at this rate. Still, a much better inning for the Yankees, forcing him into 21 pitches.
End-4th (1-0, Tigers): Detroit takes the lead as Young cracks a leadoff homer to left on a terrible hanger from Hughes. A 79-mph curveball on a 1-2 pitch and Young roped it through the wind. Hughes then left the game with an apparent injury while pitching to Andy Dirks. No word from the Yankees yet although TBS is saying it was a back problem. David Phelps got out of the inning by getting the final two men (Infante fly ball, Jackson fielder's choice) after there were men on first and second.
Hughes line: 3+ IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 1K 61-36
Mid-5th (1-0, Tigers): A tweet from Joel Sherman of the New York Post: asks "... is this the largest 1-0 lead in MLB history?" Sure seems that way. Verlander has his one-hitter going. He's at 68 pitches, hitting 95-97 regularly. Crazy easy.
End-5th (2-0, Tigers): Berry led off by reaching on an error by Chavez at third. Cabrera doubled him home with a slicer to right-center that Granderson completely misread and let roll to the wall. And two runs feels like 10 against Verlander. Nice play by Nunez at short saved another run and got the Yankees out of the inning. The Tigers have left on eight. It could be worse.
Mid-6th (2-0, Tigers): Verlander has pitched to one over the minimum and has a one-hit shutout through six. The Yankees are getting into some good counts but can't take advantage. Granderson was 3-0 leading off, got to 3-1 and popped out to third. Verlander at 81 pitches through six. Just two strikeouts. Getting the job done. Still at 97.
End-6th (2-0, Tigers): Boone Logan, the fifth Yankees pitcher, keeps this one alive by getting Cabrera to ground into a double play with the bases loaded. Nice pick by Chavez at third to start the 5-4-3. The Tigers have left 10 men on base and are just 2-10 in RISP at-bats.
Mid-7th (2-0, Tigers): Ichiro led off with a single and never moved. Teixeira flied to left, Cano extended his hitless streak to 0 for 29 (0 for 29!) by striking out on a 98-mph heater and Ibanez scored one that Fielder corraled on a hop at first. So Verlander has a two-hit shutout going but he's at 101 pitches (65 strikes). Should be able to go 120-125. Does Leyland possibly use his bullpen here?
End-7th (2-0, Tigers): Yankees still holding on. No complaint on the pitching. The hitting? Heh. The only hope seems to be if Jim Leyland somehow has a braincramp and goes to Valverde.
Mid-8th (2-0): A 1-2-3 inning. Verlander cruising.
TIGERS WIN 2-1: The last inning of a game crunching newspaper deadlines is not the best time for a blog post to simultaneously go belly-up, so apologies there. I'll have some other thoughts in a separate post but it's a 3-0 lead for Detroit and a looming sweep tomorrow.