Tune in at 8:07 PM ET as the Yankees take on the Tigers in Game Three of the ALCS. Ian Hunter will be liveblogging for your enjoyment.
Good evening, baseball fans! Welcome to tonight's Score liveblog of Game 3 of the ALCS between the Tigers and Yankees. Here are your starting lineups:
New York Yankees
SP: Phil Hughes
SP: Justin Verlander
The ALCS shifts from the Bronx to the Motor City for a pivotal Game 3. This game could definitely be a turning point for either team, as the Tigers would take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series with a win, while the Yankees could cut Detroit's lead to 2-1. Whoever wins Game 3 here definitely will have the momentum in their favour.
This series can basically be summarized in two storylines - the Tigers pitching and the Yankees lack of hitting. Through 7 starts in the playoffs, the Tigers starters have posted a combined ERA of just 0.94. Now, the Yankees starters have pitched admirably as well, going 2.33 in 7 games as well. But Detroit's starters have been especially stingy with the runs, allowing just 5 combined.
In fact, the Detroit Tigers starting staff haven't allowed a run over their last 22.1 innings of work dating back to Game 5 of the ALDS. And the Tigers have now fanned 10 or more batters in the past 4 straight games.
As far as hitting goes, it's no surprise that the Yankees have struggled to score runs in the ALCS. As a team, they're batting just .192 and .205 in the postseason total. Compare that to the Tigers .271 team batting average in the ALCS and .258 in the playoffs.
The biggest offenders at the plate for New York in this series have been Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson. This the ALCS alone, they are a combined 3 for 32 or .094. In the playoffs combined, that group is hitting .112 or 12 for 107.
All those things considered, it's almost a miracle that the Yankees made it to the League Championship Series. But here they are nonetheless, and even if two of those guys heat up, this series could get very interesting in a hurry.
The only real drama in Tigers land seems to be with Jose Valverde. Jim Leyland still hasn't made a comment as to whether Papa Grande will resume his role as closer, even though Valverde believes the role is in fact still his. Valverde's postseason ERA this year is 31.5.
@Tony My guess is the Gardner/Ichiro combo. It all starts at the top of the lineup.
Tonight the Yankees send Phil Hughes to the hill to try to right the ship in this series. Hughes will be appearing in his 18th career postseason game and will be making his fifth career postseason start. Lifetime against the Tigers, Hughes has a 5-4 record with a 4.22 ERA in 8 career starts.
The Yankees will have the tough task of trying to get through the Tigers ace, Justin Verlander. JV has been phenomenal in the postseason, going 2-0 with 22 strikeouts in the ALDS against the Oakland A's. He helped the Tigers clinch the ALDS in his last start, fanning 11 batters and holding the A's to zero runs in the complete game.
In his career versus the Yankees, Justin Verlander owns a 5-4 record with a 3.74 ERA an the Yankees have hit .272 off him lifetime, which is the highest of all the American League teams. So that very well could be the one chink in Verlander's armour, that the Yankees tend to hit him very well.
Lineup notes: Jim Leyland sticks with pretty much the same lineup that he's paraded most of the playoffs. No changes to the starting nine for him this evening.
Some big changes by Joe Girardi to the Yankees lineup for Game 3. No Alex Rodriguez and no Nick Swisher on the card tonight. Instead it will be Brett Gardner in left, Ichiro in right, Eric Chavez manning the hot corner and Eduardo Nunez at short.
I find it somewhat surprising that Girardi decided to sit A-Rod tonight against Verlander, considering that A-Rod is 8 for 32 lifetime versus Verlander with 3 home runs. Now, given that's a small sample size, but you'd think the Yankees would take any advantage they could get in this series ... especially facing one of the best pitchers in the game.
If anything, at least the Yankees add some speed to their lineup tonight. Brett Gardner gets his first start in the outfield since April 17th and will bat leadoff. He missed the last 145 games of the regular season.
@Jacek It's a bit of a risky move - Nix is the better defender, but Nunez has the better bat. If there's one thing we have learned this series, it's that the Yankees need to score runs.
Actually, the Yankees have scored 3 or fewer runs in 5 of their 7 postseason games this year. If they can score more than 3, that will at least give them a shot against Verlander.
Just a quick reminder before the game kicks off - try to keep the comments game-related. I'll get to as many as I can, but things will be fast and furious once the first pitch flies. And please refrain from personal attacks ... remember, we're all baseball fans here.
That being said, it's great to have everyone along here for Game 3 of the ALCS on the Score liveblog. Looking forward to seeing what could happen tonight in Detroit.
@fan There's always a chance - NY has an uphill battle, but the Yankees have hit Justin Verlander well over the course of his career.
@bigmikey371 Thanks for the kind words, Mike! And your cheque is in the mail, by the way.
Yes, Mike alluded to Robinson Cano's funk - he's 0 for his last 26 and has an abysmal postseason. One wonders how much longer it is before he breaks out of it. Of any night to snap out of it, tonight would be it.
Justin Verlander taking his warmup tosses from the mound at Comerica Park. He's struck out 11 batters in his past two postseason starts - not much more you could ask from your ace.
Brett Gardner decides to show bunt on the first pitch- pulls it back, and it's a called strike one.
Gardner takes a swing at the second offering from JV and hits a tapper out to second base. He has some speed down the line, but Infante gets him at the bag. One down.
@rob Hughes is 5-4 with a 4.22 ERA in 8 career starts against the Tigers ... so not too bad.
@cor.o Ah yes, of course Joe Girardi is back as well. I forgot he got tossed in the last game.
Verlander with a 2-2 count on the Yankees right fielder Ichiro.
Verlander pumps up the high fastball, 95 MPH and gets Ichiro to strike out.