The Detroit Tigers took on the New York Yankees in game one of the American League Championship Series Oct. 13. This is their third ALCS in the last seven years. Earlier in the season, many were calling for manager Jim Leyland to lose his job, based on questionable decision making with his lineups.
Doug Fister was the starting pitcher for the Tigers. He lasted six and one third innings, surrendering no runs on six hits. He walked four batters, but also had five strikeouts. Phil Coke relieved him and pitched a perfect inning. Setup man Joaquin Benoit gave up one hit in two thirds of an inning, but the Yankees failed to score any runs on him.
Closer Jose Valverde continued the struggles that have been plaguing him since the beginning of the postseason. He pitched two thirds of an inning, gave up four runs on four hits, two of which were home runs. He walked one and struck out two, but Octavio Dotel stopped the bleeding, retiring the final batter of the ninth inning.
The Yankee bats were practically silent for most of the game until Valverde came out to attempt the save in the ninth. Catcher Russell Martin led off the inning with a single and took second base due to defensive indifference, and two batters later, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-run home run to bring the team within two runs.
One out away from the save, Valverde walked first baseman Mark Teixeira. The next batter, designated hitter Raul Ibanez, sent Valverde’s 0-2 pitch over the right field wall to tie the game. Dotel came in and struck out Eric Chavez to send the game into extra innings. If Valverde does end up being removed from his role as closer, Dotel appears to be the leading candidate to take over. Benoit is also an option moving forward
In the top of the 12th inning, Miguel Cabrera earned a leadoff walk against Yankee pitcher David Phelps, and advanced to second base on a ground out by Prince Fielder. Delmon Young, who hit his franchise leading sixth career postseason home run in the eighth inning, hit an RBI double past a lunging Nick Swisher for his third RBI of the game, putting the Tigers on top for good. Andy Dirks added an RBI single two batters later, and that was all the Tigers needed. They won by a score of 6-4.
Game two was scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 14. The Tigers sent Anibel Sanchez to the mound against Yankee right hander Hiroki Kuroda. The Yankees will be playing without star shortstop Derek Jeter, who fractured his left ankle diving to make a play in the top of the 12th inning, causing a sudden end to his season. This may prove to be a huge blow for the Yankees as the ALCS progresses
Both teams will be waiting to use their ace pitchers. For the Tigers, Justin Verlander, who pitched a complete game in the last game of the American League Division Series, is currently scheduled to start game three of the ALCS. Yankees ace CC Sabathia, who pitched his own complete game in the Yankees’ game five victory over the Baltimore Orioles, is currently scheduled to start game four.
Verlander had a stellar ALDS, winning both of his starts and earning a virtually sterling 0.56 ERA. The Oakland A’s had a .156 batting average against him in 16 innings. If Fister and starting pitcher Anibel Sanchez can effectively set the table for Verlander in the first two games, the Tigers will be in good shape to win the series.
Max Scherzer is still pitching hurt. Sidelined late in the season for a shoulder issue, he is battling a decrease in his velocity and control. Hopefully the extra day of rest will prove useful, and allow Scherzer to get his game back to the late season form that helped him lead the team to the Central Division title.