Posted on: October 3, 2011 11:53 pm
DETROIT -- Now comes the scariest sentence of the summer for the Yankees: Their season depends on A.J. Burnett.
Hide the women and children. Stock up on the Tums. Get a good night's sleep. As this high-octane series sprints toward Game 4, the Yankees have no room left for mistakes because they probably made their biggest in getting a 5-4 Yankee clipping in Game 3 here Monday.
That mistake? Failing to take advantage of two unexpected windfalls against Tigers ace Justin Verlander:
A two-run first inning that momentarily knocked Verlander and the Tigers off-balanced was given back by CC Sabathia in Detroit's two-run third.
Then, Verlander was absolutely sensational from the second through the sixth innings, the Yankees clawed back from 4-2 to tie the game at 4-4 in the seventh. And set-up man Rafael Soriano immediately gave it up when Delmon Young crushed a one-out fastball in the bottom of the seventh to make it 5-4.
It wasn't quite the classic battle between Verlander and Sabathia that most of us expected. Sabathia was wobbly from the beginning, walking three Tigers in the first, another in the second and one more in the third. But the Yankees turned three double plays behind him in those three innings to atone for his sins.
Verlander, after that two-run first, savagely mowed through the Yankees over the next five innings. He hit 100 m.p.h. several times. He sent curve balls that bent like bananas. He threw changeups somewhere in between. He was sensational during this time. He fanned four consecutive Yankees during the fourth and fifth, then stretched it to seven in a nine-batter stretch through the seventh.
With two out in the seventh, Jorge Posada stunned him by fighting back from 0 and 2 to walk. Then Verlander drilled Russell Martin with a 100 m.p.h. fastball in the ribs. Ouch.
What undoubtedly stung Verlander just as much, Brett Gardner lashed a 100 m.p.h. heater for a game-tying double after that.
Before the Tigers could fully digest that, Young was depositing a Soriano pitch over the right-field fence -- and the Tigers were depositing the Yankees to the brink of elimination.
With Burnett headed to the mound to start Game 4 Tuesday night.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 4:11 pm
In hindsight, the highlight in outfielder Delmon Young's tenure with the Twins came in the spring of 2010, his first day in camp, when he arrived in noticeably better shape than he had been in '09.
"We re-signed Carl Pavano, so I know I'm going to be running quite a bit [chasing balls in the outfield]," Young quipped upon arrival.
It was a funny line but, alas, the optimism of even an in-shape Young was never fully realized in Minnesota. And when the Twins finally shipped him to Detroit on Monday, it capped months of quiet effort on their part to move him in a market that never materialized.
So Young joins the pennant race in Detroit for spare parts -- minor-league lefty Cole Nelson and a player to be named later -- in an intradivision AL Central trade that is attention-grabbing for two reasons: One, because it's rare to see division rivals swap players, especially this close to the stretch run. And two, because it's a clear signal that the Twins, a team that never gives up, are cashing in their chips on 2011.
It's another smooth move for the Tigers, adding depth to an already potent lineup (fifth in the AL in runs scored) that can use an immediate boost because it is ailing. Carlos Guillen (sore wrist) is back on the disabled list and outfielder Brennan Boesch (sprained right thumb) has not started in any of the Tigers' past four games. Meantime, designated hitter Victor Martinez has been playing with a sprained knee and Magglio Ordonez has been looking tired, driving in just four runs so far this month.
Also, the Tigers traded outfielder Casper Wells to Seattle last month for starting pitcher Doug Fister.
Still, the Tigers remain in the drivers' seat in a nip-and-tuck AL Central, leading Cleveland by just 2 1/2 games and stuck-in-neutral Chicago by four games. Both the Indians and the White Sox are close enough to make a serious move, especially given Detroit's current thinned-out lineup due to injury and the Wells deal.
Young gives manager Jim Leyland a veteran piece with playoff experience, and maybe the new surroundings will help jump-start a man whose brother, Dmitri Young, is a Tigers alum. Young, after working himself into perhaps the best shape of his life in 2010, batted .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBI. However, so far in 2011, he's hitting just .266 with four homers and 32 RBIs.
Young's diminishing returns and increasing salary has had the Twins open to trading him at least as far back as last winter. He's earning $5.375 million this summer and is arbitration-eligible again this winter. Minnesota now can use that money for any number of things, from plugging in holes elsewhere on the roster (they rank 13th in the AL in runs scored, and their 4.65 bullpen ERA is last in the AL) to perhaps taking a run at re-signing Michael Cuddyer, who is a free agent this winter.
Ironically, the Twins open a three-game series in Detroit this evening. So Young does not have to travel too far to join his new team.