Justin Verlander puts Yankees on the brink: Quick hits

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Verlander dominated the Yankees in Game 3. (AP)

DETROIT -- Thanks in large part to Justin Verlander, the Tigers are one game from the World Series. The Yankees, meanwhile, are on the verge of being swept in the postseason for the first time since the 1980 ALCS.

More playoff coverage
ALCS: Tigers vs. Yankees
NLCS: Cardinals vs. Giants

Hero: Verlander owned the night. He wasn't his usual self in terms of missing bats and lighting up the radar gun (although he of course lit it up by standards of mere mortals), but even in "pitch to contact" mode, Verlander smothered the Yankees. In the seventh, as he approached 100 pitches and as the rain picked up, he hit 98 with his four-seamer. His line for the night: 8 1/3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 3 K, 0 BB. Of his 132 pitches (!), 86 went for strikes. If he could go back in time, Jim Leyland probably would let his ace finish the job.

Goat: The new faces in the lineup -- Brett Gardner and Eric Chavez -- didn't do the job. To be fair, no Yankee did the job against Verlander in Game 3, but Gardner and Chavez combined to go 0-for-7. That's, well, the stuff of Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. Both played well in the field, but they were in the lineup to provide some kind of offensive spark. They did not.

Turning point: The fourth inning. Delmon Young homered (of course he did), and Phil Hughes injured his back and had to be lifted from the game. Those events ensured a long night for the Yankee bullpen and staked Verlander to a lead.

It was over when: Eduardo Nunez's solo shot in the ninth made it a one-run game, and Phil Coke put the tying and go-ahead runs on base. It wasn't over until Coke retired Raul Ibanez after a seven-pitch battle. In other words, it wasn't over until it was over. That's been the case with almost every game this postseason. More, please.

Next: Wednesday's Game 4 in Detroit starts at 8:00 pm ET.

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