October 18, 2012 - 3:52 PM
DETROIT -- There's been so much talk here at Comerica Park, most of it A-Rod related, that it's easy to forget we haven't seen a baseball pitched for real in nearly 41 hours.
That's finally about to change with Max Scherzer meeting CC Sabathia in Game Four (it's on TBS). And just like last night, no A-Rod and no Curtis Granderson.
Said Joe Girardi in his pregame media briefing today: "Our decisions aren't made on a whim, they are based on a lot of stuff that we see and information that we have. ... Would I love to be in a position where I didn't have to make changes? Absolutely. But there's been some real struggles in our lineup, and we had to do something."
About all the rumors swirling around A-Rod, Girardi tried to simply bring the focus back to today's game: "Anytime you have a player of Alex's stature, there's ‑‑ it's going to be a hot button. He is going to be talked about a lot. And that's something he's had to deal with for a long, long time. I don't get caught up.
"Our focus is here, not what will happen next year, what will happen two years down the road. That would be silly for me. I think it is silly for all of us. No one knows what tomorrow holds for any of us."
As for today, keep it here for my in-game thoughts. Reminder that we're not allowed to do batter-by-batter updates but you can follow the pitch-by-pitch log here.
Top-1st: The first pitch by Scherzer (left) to Ichiro was a strike at 4:08 p.m. The temperature is 59 degrees. A real factor now is that we're in bright sunshine. The late-afternoon sun could be a real problem for hitters. It was a 1-2-3 inning, featuring strikeouts of Swisher and Cano, but the Yankees did foul off 10 pitches and Scherzer threw 19. Cano fell to 3 for 37 and Swisher 4 for 27 in the postseason. In this series, Cano is 1 for 15, Swisher 2 for 9.
End-1st (1-0, Tigers): Detroit touches Sabathia for a run on Young's two-out RBI single to right. Game over? The way the Yankees are hitting, don't laugh. The inning started with an infield single from Omar Infante, who beat out a chopper to third. Chavez fielded cleanly but threw late. Of course, lots of would-ARod-have-made-that play? Sabathia fanned Jhonny Peralta to leave runners at the corners but needed 23 pitches in the frame.
End-2nd (1-0, Tigers): Six up, six down for Scherzer. Four Ks, including Chavez (now 0-15, 7Ks in the postseason). Mind-boggling bad hitting by the Yankees. Sabathia gave up a hit and walk in the bottom of the inning and has left four on through two -- but he's also needed 41 pitches. His offspeed stuff is oddly flat. Tigers left 10 on in Game Three and it nearly cost them in the ninth. They're at it again.
Mid-3rd (1-0, Tigers): The Yankees' first threat goes down as Swisher takes a 96-mph fastball for a called third strike (what was he looking for?) to leave runners at first and second. Nunez reached on a two-out error by Fielder, who simply flubbed a nubber up the first-base line, and Ichiro walked after an 0-2 count. Scherzer up to 55 pitches. Yankees need to keep working counts to get into the bullpen.
End-3rd (2-0, Tigers): Sabathia should sue for non-support, both at the plate and in the field. Teixeira booted a Fielder grounder -- that was ridiculously scored as a hit -- and then booted another one by Dirks that was properly scored an error. Rookie Avisail Garcia, who spent most of his year at Double-A Erie, than overcame an 0-2 count to collect an infield single that Nunez basically spiked into the ground near short, and brought home Fielder. No. 9 hitter Gerald Laird worked the count to 3-1 before flying to right. An astonishing 73 pitches for Sabathia through three. The Tigers have left seven.
Mid-4th (2-0, Tigers): Scherzer has a no-hitter with 7 Ks going. Just whiffed Texeira and Ibanez.
End-4th: (6-0, Tigers): It's over. Two-run homer by Cabrera on a first-pitch fastball, two-run homer by old friend Jhonny Peralta on a hanging curveball. Sabathia mercifully taken out after a Dirks double. He gave up six runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings -- and ESPN just tweeted he's the first pitcher in postseason history to give up 11+ hits while recording 11 outs or fewer. Incredible. The crowd went nuts when Cabrera cranked his bomb, with the "MVP, MVP" chants rocking the ballpark and he showed them some love in return (above).
End-5th: (6-0, Tigers): Scherzer's no-no intact with nine Ks. But he's at 83 pitches, coming off shoulder trouble and has a World Series to come. No way he goes the route. The Yankees are about to be swept in a best-of-seven for the first time since the '76 World Series vs. Cincinnati. They're going to be the first team in history to never lead in a seven-game series.
End-6th: (6-1, Tigers): Nunez broke up the no-hitter with a triple to left-center and scored on Swisher's one-out double (nice for him to get a hit in that spot, huh?). A two-out walk to Teixeira ended Scherzer's day and he left to a roaring standing ovation as he tipped his hat to the crowd. Drew Smyly came on and faced .... A-Rod!!. Pinch-hitting for Ibanez and with everyone in the park standing, A-Rod lofted a lazy fly to center for the final out. The Tigers have left 12 on base and are 2-10 in RISP situations.
End-7th: 7-1: An Austin Jackson homer on the second pitch from Derek Lowe adds to the rout. Six outs left for the Tigers. Phil Coke coming on in the eighth. Wonder if Jim Leyland runs Valverde out there in the ninth with a six-run lead?
End-8th, 8-1: Old friend Jhonny Peralta took David Robertson deep for his second homer of the day, a solo shot to left. He's had a great series, both at the plate and in the field. I bet Cabrera is named MVP but Peralta is close. After winning the IL MVP with the Bisons in 2004, Peralta came within a game of going to the World Series with the '07 Indians. He's finally going there now. The only other Detroit shortstop with a multi-homer game in the postseason was Alan Trammell in Game Four of the 1984 World Series against the Padres at old Tiger Stadium.
It's over: An 8-1 Tigers win and a long winter of reflection for the Yankees. It's the 11th AL pennant for the Tigers.