Tigers top Yankees 2-1, need 1 win for pennant
October 18, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers moved within one win of a berth in the World Series and pushed the New York Yankees to the brink of elimination with a 2-1 win on Tuesday.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander held the Yankees scoreless into the ninth inning as the hosts hung on in a tense final inning to take a 3-0 series lead.
Reliever Phil Coke gave up consecutive singles with two outs in the ninth before striking out playoffs star Raul Ibanez to end it.
"We put ourselves in a decent position, but that's all we have done," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Delmon Young hit a solo home run for the Tigers, and Miguel Cabrera had an RBI double.
Yankees starter Phil Hughes was lifted in the fourth because of a stiff back, and manager Joe Girardi's lineup shuffle — Alex Rodriguez was benched again — failed to revive New York's struggling bats.
"There were some good at-bats tonight. The ball was not carrying tremendously well tonight, we know that," Girardi said. "He ended up with three strikeouts. So our guys put the ball in play and tried to get on base, but when you face Verlander, you know what you're up against."
With the exception of a four-run ninth inning in Game 1, New York had been shut out for the entire series going into the ninth on Tuesday. Eduardo Nunez homered off Verlander, ending a streak of 37 innings by Detroit starters without allowing an earned run; the longest in a single postseason in the modern era.
Verlander fell just short of a second straight shutout, having stopped the Oakland Athletics in the decisive fifth game of the division series. He was lifted after getting the first out of the ninth. He lasted 132 pitches, one shy of his career high.
"Normally I guess you don't take Secretariat out in the final furlong, but that was pretty much it for him," Leyland said.
Coke came in and allowed two-out hits to Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, with the latter snapping a drought of 29 at-bats without a hit.
But Ibanez, who hit tying and winning homers in the same game in the ALDS against Baltimore and tied Game 1 of this series with a ninth-inning homer, worked the count full before he struck out swinging at a breaking ball to end it.
"I've got faith in our bullpen. Coke did a great job in New York. He's done a great job for us all year, so I was OK with it," Verlander said. "And I was up around 130 pitches or so, so I don't think they're just going to leave me out there and sacrifice the rest of the postseason just for this game, especially when Coke's been throwing the ball extremely well."
Hughes matched Verlander in a scoreless duel until Young led off the Detroit fourth with a line drive over the wall in left field. It was his seventh homer in the past two postseasons. Five of those homers — in only eight games — have come against the Yankees.
"He had a great postseason last year and he picked up right where he left off," Leyland said. "A huge hit tonight."
Andy Dirks followed with a walk, and Hughes was pulled with an 0-2 count on Jhonny Peralta. David Phelps came on and got out of the inning, but the Yankees now have a pitching injury to go along with all their hitting problems.
The Tigers added an unearned run in the fifth when Eric Chavez — Rodriguez's replacement at third — misplayed a grounder. Cabrera, the AL Triple Crown winner, followed with an RBI double.
Cabrera has a 16-game hitting streak in League Championship Series play, breaking a tie for that record with Manny Ramirez and Pete Rose, according to STATS LLC.
But Cabrera hit into a double play with bases loaded in the sixth, preventing the Tigers adding more runs.