Monday, August 6, 2012


The Yankees faced a daunting task in the series opener against the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers came in red hot, having won their last eight games at Comerica Park, plus Detroit was 22-11 in their last 33 games overall.  To compound the problem for New York, they were facing Tiger ace, Justin Verlander.  Verlander came into the game with some impressive numbers of his own.  His ERA stood at 2.63 and his WHIP was a meager 0.98.  Equally impressive, Verlander had yielded an opponents batting average of only .201 on the season.
Verlander started the game with a strong effort, yielding only three Yankee hits in the first four innings.  He seemed comfortable throwing 92-95 mph on his fastball.  Evidently Joe Girardi thought Verlander was also getting some help from home plate umpire Tony Randazzo.  In the middle of the third inning, Girardi went jaw to jaw with Randazzo after Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin had questioned the umpire's strike calling during their respective at bats.  Meanwhile, Yankee starter Ivan Nova was a bit shaky through four, having allowed two solo home runs, the first to Prince Fielder in the 3rd inning and then a 454-foot monster shot off the bat of Miguel Cabrera in the fourth.
Trailing 2-0 entering the fifth inning, the Yankees mounted a rally against Verlander.  Eric Chavez led off the inning with a double to left field.  Following strikeouts by Ichiro Suzuki and Russell Martin, Curtis Granderson reached first courtesy of a Verlander error.  The Yankees made Verlander pay for his transgression with back to back RBI singles from Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano to tie the game at 2-2.  Verlander rallied to strike out  Mark Teixeira to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Nova allowed five consecutive Detroit hits to start the inning.  The Tigers put up three runs as Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta scored on hits by Omar Infante and Austin Jackson.  The third run scored on a sacrifice fly by Andy Dirks.  The inning could have been even worse but lead-off hitter Delmon Young who singled to start the inning was erased by Martin and Jeter on a caught stealing.  The Tigers still led 5-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, but Nova imploded again by allowing three more hits in succession to Brennan Boesch, Delmon Young and Alex Avila.  Boesch scored on Avila's hit and Nova was out of the game with the Yankees down 6-2.
Joba Chamberlain relieved Nova, immediately yielded a hit to Peralta, and the Yankees were down 7-2 and appeared to be finished going to the seventh.  All seven runs were charged to Nova who lasted only 68 pitches into the game.  By the seventh inning, Verlander had upped the velocity on his fastball, throwing 98 mph on his 107th pitch of the game.
Justin Verlander made sure the Yankees were done by pitching eight strong innings, throwing 132 pitches (96 for strikes), and striking out 14 Yankee hitters. Verlander's fastball topped out at 100 mph on his 130th pitch of the evening.  He struck out Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Ichiro Suzuki three times each for nine of his 14 strikeouts.  Ichiro was also held hitless in the game and his Yankee hitting streak ends on a night that was totally dominated by Verlander's performance
Jose Valverde closed the night for Detroit by retiring the Yanks in order in the ninth inning.  Otherwise, Verlander's effort allowed the tired Detroit bullpen a night of rest.  The only Yankee bright spot was Eric Chavez who had two doubles and single off Verlander.
The sad final on Monday night was Detroit 7 - New York 2.     

--Frank Gentry, BYB Writer

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