Tigers horse Justin Verlander made a bid for his second consecutive post-season shutout tonight, but had to settle for a 2-1 victory over the Yankees in game three of the American League Championship Series. Verlander was near perfect for eight innings allowing just two singles (both by right fielder Ichiro Suzuki). He went into the ninth with a pitch count of 115 and appeared primed to go the distance. However, the inning started with an improbable home run by light-hitting infielder Eduardo Nunez on the eight pitch of his at bat.
That home run ended a string of 23 consecutive scoreless innings by Verlander tying a team record set by left hander Kenny Rogers in 2006. It also brought to a halt an incredible streak of 30 1/3 shutout innings and 39 frames without an earned run by Tigers starters. To put it another way, it was the first run allowed by a Tigers starter in four games and the first earned run in five games. Their rotation has been so good that Verlander's one run in 8 1/3 innings tonight actually raised the post-season of ERA of Tigers starters to 0.96 (it was 0.94 coming in).
For the second straight game, Phil Coke successfully converted a save opportunity against the lefty-heavy Yankees line-up. He allowed to singles in two and a third innings, but struck out red hot Raul Ibanez to end it.
Once again, a sluggish Tigers offense did just enough to get the win. Delmon Young (Mr. October!) lined a homer to left in the fourth to put the Tigers up 1-0. Miguel Cabrera knocked in the second run with a double in the fifth.
With a win tomorrow, Detroit can become the first team to sweep New York in a post-season series since the Royals in the 1980 ALCS. Max Scherzer takes the mound for that one versus CC Sabathia.