Posted on: October 3, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 9:44 pm

Remember me? Granderson gives Yankees early lead

By Matt Snyder

Curtis Granderson was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2002 and came up through the system. He played the first six years of his career for the Tigers. Monday night, he gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead in quite impressive fashion.

After Derek Jeter led off the game with single up the middle, Granderson turned a triple-digit Justin Verlander fastball into an RBI triple to deep center. Granderson then showed his wheels by scoring on an Alex Rodriguez ground out to shortstop -- even though the Tigers had the infield pulled in. Just like that, it was 2-0 Yankees on a night where runs were expected to be at a premium.

There's a long way to go, especially with neither pitcher looking dominant -- CC Sabathia had four walks through two innings -- but two runs could be paramount in this type of pitching matchup. And, again, the pitch Granderson smashed to center was 100 miles per hour. (UPDATE: Right on cue, the Tigers tied it, 2-2, within minutes of this posting. Where's our pitcher's duel?)

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 5:55 pm

Leyland: Yankees video paints Tigers as JV

New York-Detroit ALDS
By Matt Snyder

As noted in Danny Knobler's column after the Tigers' Game 2 victory over the Yankees in the ALDS, closer Jose Valverde said the series was over. No, he didn't insinuate or imply anything. He flat out said, "it's over." With the series tied 1-1 and the Yankees rolling out CC Sabathia Monday night against Justin Verlander, it's a bit curious. But hey, Valverde isn't shy and I have no problem whatsoever with confidence.

When asked about Valverde's proclamation Monday night, Tigers manager Jim Leyland turned the tables and let his feelings be known about the Yankees' pre-game video intro at home. Via NJ.com:
“First of all, I don't think I saw anything about guarantee. That's number one. I do think he said -- I think when you read all the stories about it, he admitted it was tongue in cheek when he said it.

Second of all, I didn't take offense to the video at Yankee Stadium when they were talking about the World Series, like we were the junior varsity and they were getting ready for the World Series. I didn't take offense to that at all. In fact, I thought it was great. That's what they should be talking about. I don't really think that.

I don't believe in this stuff. I would hate to think the New York Yankees or the Detroit Tigers need any bulletin board stuff to get fired up this time of year. I would take that with a grain of salt. I didn't see anything about a guarantee.”
I couldn't agree more with the last paragraph. I've long wondered by such a huge deal is made about words leading up to big games. Unless someone crosses a line -- racial, family taunts, etc. -- it's pretty irrelevant. When playing in the playoffs, there's no extra motivation needed.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 4:32 pm

ALDS Game 3: CC vs. Verlander, Part Deux

By Matt Snyder

Yankees at Tigers, 8:37 p.m. ET, Comerica Park, TBS


Tigers Yankees
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Derek Jeter SS 1 Austin Jackson CF
2 Curtis Granderson CF 2 Ramon Santiago 2B
3 Robinson Cano 2B 3 Delmon Young LF
4 Alex Rodriguez 3B 4 Miguel Cabrera 1B
5 Mark Teixeira 1B 5 Victor Martinez DH
6 Nick Swisher RF 6 Magglio Ordonez RF
7 Jorge Posada DH 7 Jhonny Peralta SS
8 Russell Martin C 8 Alex Avila C
9 Brett Gardner LF 9 Brandon Inge 3B
  CC Sabathia LHP   Justin Verlander RHP

We were supposed to get CC vs. Verlander Friday and weather took it away from us after just nine outs. Monday night, it's time again. Hopefully we're treated to clear skies throughout (and the weather report says there's a chance of rain, but the chances get higher later in the night).


Sabathia vs. Tigers: Sabathia was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.65 WHIP two regular-season starts against the Tigers. In his career, Sabathia has faced the Tigers 32 times -- remember, he played in the AL Central for a long time -- going 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Of course, we have to remember, this includes numbers from the early 2000s, when the Tigers' lineup didn't even resemble what it is now. In 14 career starts in Comerica Park, Sabathia is 7-5 with a 4.30 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Verlander vs. Yankees: He only faced them twice this season, but it wasn't his best line. He had a 4.50 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 12 regular-season innings. He also allowed a run against them in his only inning Friday night. The good news for Tigers fans? Verlander is utterly dominant at home. He's 57-23 with a 3.24 ERA in his career at home, but this season he was 10-3 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 16 home starts. Then again, he was just as dominant on the road this season.

New York-Detroit ALDS
  • We wrote Sunday that Miguel Cabrera owned Freddy Garcia and the Tigers' first baseman came through with a huge game. Monday, the numbers point to more of the same. Cabrera is hitting .529 with two home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.506 OPS in 23 career plate appearances against Sabathia. In turn, expect CC to be pretty careful with Miggy.
  • Jeter is past his prime as an elite leadoff hitter, but his history against Verlander looks good. He's hitting .345 with a .441 on-base percentage in 34 career plate appearances against the Tigers' ace. Swisher, Teixeira, A-Rod, Cano and Granderson are all hitting under .200 against Verlander, though.
  • The Tigers won the regular season series 4-3, having outscored the Yankees 36-33. Add in the two playoff games and the Yankees have outscored the Tigers 45-44, but the Tigers have won five games.
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Posted on: October 2, 2011 7:54 pm

Benoit's big outs propel Tigers

By Matt Snyder

Miguel Cabrera's home run. Cabrera's RBI single. Max Scherzer's solid outing. Jose Valverde's near-colossal meltdown in the ninth inning.

What do those things all have in common? They're likely to get more attention than Joaquin Benoit's outing, for one. If you only look at the box score, Benoit's line doesn't look very good, either, due to him allowing a Curtis Granderson home run to open the eighth inning. Make no mistake about it, though, Benoit was a major player Sunday, just as he has been for the overwhelming majority of the season.

In the offseason, the Tigers signed Benoit to a three-year, $16.5 million contract. That's a pretty big commitment to a guy who only throws one inning at a time, especially since he was 33 and coming off a season that appeared an outlier when compared to the rest of his career (his career ERA was 4.79 before 2010, for example). By the middle of May, the deal looked like it might be a mistake, too. After a disastrous May 16 outing, Benoit had three losses, a 7.98 ERA and 1.66 WHIP.

New York-Detroit, Game 2
Since then, however, Benoit has been a steadying force in the Tigers' bullpen, just as he was Sunday. From May 20 to the end of the regular season, Benoit had a 1.36 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings.

Sunday, Benoit was given quite the task. He entered the game in the seventh inning -- he usually only pitches in the eighth -- with runners on first and second with no outs. It was a 4-0 Tigers lead at the time, but one swing of the bat would have made it 4-3 (and we now know that the Tigers would only hold on to win 5-3) and given the Yankees all kinds of momentum. Benoit got a fly ball out off Russell Martin's bat and then struck out both Eric Chavez and Derek Jeter to end the inning with no damage done. Benoit then took the hill for the eighth, even though he hadn't thrown two full innings since Aug. 30. The Granderson homer to open the inning didn't phase Benoit, who went on to retire Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.

Most headlines will look elsewhere, but the work done by Benoit Sunday was one of the biggest reasons the Tigers won the game. Just as he's been doing since the middle of May, he got the job done when it counted most -- even if it was in the seventh inning this time around.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 6:50 pm

Instant Reaction: Tigers 5, Yankees 3

By Matt Snyder

Detroit 5, New York 3

Max Scherzer

LP: Freddy Garcia

HR: Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher

Series: Tied 1-1

Hero: This was a great team effort by the Tigers (other than Jose Valverde, who tried to give the game away). Joaquin Benoit coming out of the bullpen and inducing a fly out and two strikeouts to escape a jam in the seventh was huge. Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer in the first set the tone and he was 3-for-4 with three RBI overall. But Scherzer was the big hero. Last time he faced the Yankees in New York he was shelled for six runs on seven hits (including four home runs), but Sunday he handcuffed the strong Yankees offense for six innings. He was unable to get an out in the seventh before being pulled, but it's pretty doubtful anyone on the Tigers is disappointed with him pitching six shutout innings and allowing only two hits. This was a huge outing that swung the momentum in favor of the Tigers, who now head home for two games.

Goat: We'll go with Derek Jeter here. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and five men left on base offensively. On the defensive end, Jeter made a throwing error to open the sixth inning -- which helped open the door for two Tigers' insurance runs. His postseason track record is amazing, but Sunday was a game to forget for the future Hall of Famer.

Next: 10/3 at Detroit, 8:37 p.m. ET. Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40) vs. CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00)

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 5:05 pm

Max Scherzer had no-hitter through five innings

By Matt Snyder

UPDATE: Scherzer's no-hitter was broken up by Robinson Cano with a bloop single in the sixth. The Tigers held a 4-0 lead at the time of the hit.

Weather forced the Tigers to only get one true start out of ace Justin Verlander in the ALDS and then No. 2 starter Doug Fister faltered in a Game 1 loss. So the Tigers need a big outing out of Max Scherzer in Sunday afternoon's Game 2. Thus far, they're getting it. He has a no-hitter through five innings.

Scherzer's stuff has been stellar. He's worked his way through the Yankees lineup twice, allowing only three walks and a hit-by-pitch. He retired 11 consecutive hitters at one point and has five strikeouts. The only issue is efficiency, as Scherzer's occasional control issues have caused him to build up a pitch count of 82 through five innings. Still, if Scherzer can continue to pitch like this, watch out for the Tigers. They could very well be headed home with Justin Verlander pitching Game 3 and get to face the erratic A.J. Burnett in Game 4

The Tigers hold a 2-0 lead thanks to a first-inning, two-run homer by Miguel Cabrera. Other than that, however, Yankees starter Freddy Garcia has been really good as well. So it's been a bit of a pitcher's duel on a day that many would have predicted would see a lot of runs.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:32 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:53 am

Instant Reaction: Yankees 9, Tigers 3

By Matt Snyder

New York 9, Tigers 3

WP: Ivan Nova

LP: Doug Fister

HR: Delmon Young, Robinson Cano

Series: Yankees lead 1-0

Hero: Robinson Cano got the scoring started -- at least during the Saturday portion of the game -- with an RBI double in the fifth. He then put the game out of reach with a grand slam in the sixth, making the score 8-1. He then added another RBI double for good measure. Cano was actually just a few inches from having two home runs and seven RBI in the game. He'll settle for 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and six RBI (which tied the all-time Yankees postseason record for RBI in a single game). Give Nova lots of credit for his outing -- at least the first six innings of it -- but Cano was the star Saturday night.

Goat: You can place blame any number of places here. Fister completely fell apart after a great start, the offense didn't really get much going, getting Alex Avila thrown out at home took away the chance for a big inning in the fifth and Jim Leyland elected to use right-handed Al Alburquerque against left-hander Cano. Let's immediately absolve Leyland, because Cano's line against righties (.296/.347/.537) isn't too different than his line against lefties (.314/.354/.525). He hits everyone and Alburquerque had been great all season, so there's no way to blame Leyland for the move. The biggest problem for Detroit was how quickly Fister's outing went south. He balked runners to second and third in his first inning, but worked out of it and then settled in. He just didn't settle in long enough. Getting 4 2/3 innings with seven hits and six earned runs wasn't exactly what the Tigers needed out of Fister to win this game.

Next: 10/2 at New York, 3:07 p.m. ET on TNT. Max Scherzer (15-9, 4.43) vs. Freddy Garcia (12-8, 3.62)

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

Video: Cano discusses his six-RBI night.

Video: Leyland on the Game 1 loss.

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:11 am

Phillies have the best rotation in playoffs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

This time of year, pitching can carry an otherwise flawed team all the way to a title, we saw that last year when the Giants rode their starters and a shut-down closer to a World Series championship. So which teams have the best rotations heading into this postseason? Glad you asked…

Here's our ranking of the eight playoff rotations:


1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Like there was a doubt? Halladay started last postseason with a no-hitter. It'll be tough to top that, but we'll see what happens when the National League's best pitching staff takes on the National League's best offense. 


2. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price

Joe Maddon is taking one heck of a chance giving a rookie with fewer than 10 big-league innings under his belt on the hill to start Game 1, but Moore is amazingly talented -- and he's never lost a start for the Rays (small sample size alert!). 


3. Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf

Gallardo is perhaps the least-heralded of the Brewers' starters, but that could just be that unlike the other members of the team's rotation, he's spent his entire season in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 44-29 with a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. There's also former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke who wanted to be traded from Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. Now he's here and it's time to deliver.


4. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello

Call them top-heavy, and even heavier at the top since Fister joined the rotation. Fister, acquired at the deadline from Seattle, has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts for the Tigers. Add him to Justin Verlander and you have a heck of a 1-2 punch. It's the 3-4 that lacks punch.


5. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

It looks like Arizona will go with a three-man rotation in the playoffs, which will certainly help the bullpen with the addition to Josh Collmenter. Kennedy was the breakout star of the Diamondbacks' rotation, winning 21 games, while Hudson and Saudners have also pitched well.

6. Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

Sure, they don't have Lee this year, but they do have Wilson, who has established himself as an ace, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, striking out 206 batters in 223 1/3 innings. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) is the only right-hander in the rotation.


7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals' two best pitchers are pitching Games 3 and 4, but everyone has contributed down the stretch. St. Louis would be higher on the list with Adam Wainwright, but he's not coming back this season. Jackson has pitched well since joining the team and Lohse, a former Phillie, has had a bounce-back season.


8. New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Sabathia's as good of a big-game pitcher as there is in the game, but Nova is a rookie and Garcia is anything but. The fact the team is going with a three-man rotation tells you what you need to know about the guys not in the rotation. Garcia's the team's third-best starter -- I guess $196 million doesn't buy what it once did.

For more postseason coverage.

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