The further we get into this year’s Tigers-Yankees playoff series, the more it begins mirror the 2006 series between the two teams. In 2006, the Detroit faced the New York as the wild card, and after losing the first game on the road, came back to win three straight and clinch the series at home. With a win tonight, the Tigers will replicate their performance in ’06 and advance to face the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.
The big story heading into tonight’s game is Yankee starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. After signing a large contract heading into the 2009 season, the talented Burnett has been less than spectacular. Heading into the postseason, the Yankees hadn’t planned on using Burnett, but following Friday night’s rainout, the Yankees were forced to use a fourth starter. Arguably the most inconsistent pitcher in the American League, Burnett will try to save the Yankees season by defeating the Tigers at Comerica Park, a place he has had little success.
Tonight the Tigers send third-year pitcher Rick Porcello to the mound in hopes of clinching the series. Porcello, like Burnett, has also had a bit of a roller coaster season. At times, he has pitched brilliantly, but struggled to hold form throughout the regular season. For Porcello to succeed tonight, he will need to have a strong command of his fastball and sharp movement on his sinker. With a strong performance from Porcello and some timely hits from the offense, the Tigers will win the series and match the results of the 2006 ALDS.
Following 5-3 Tigers victory in Game 2, all eyes turn to Verlander in Game 3. JV has had the most impressive season of his career, and has had great success in high-profile games. Without question, tonight’s game in Detroit will be the most important game of the season. In order for the Tigers to win, Verlander will have to find his rhythm early and avoid 3-1 and 3-2 counts. The Yankees are patient, professional hitters who love to foul off pitches and drive the opposing pitchers pitch count up. With Benoit and Valverde throwing over twenty pitches in last night’s game, it will be important for Verlander to pitch deep into the game. If Verlander pitches the way he has all year long, Detroit will enter Game 4 with a chance to clinch the series.
Opposite of Verlander will be Cy Young co-candidate (in New York’s eyes only) C.C. Sabathia. While many baseball analysts are touting Sabathia’s two innings of work, he wasn’t as strong as he looked. Sabathia racked up four strikeouts in those two innings, but two of the four took place during a torrential downpour, making it nearly impossible for hitters to have a quality at-bat. Look for Sabathia to struggle in a hostile Comerica Park against the dangerous Tigers lineup.
Here are 3 reasons why Tigers fans shouldn’t panic:
- It’s only 1 game! If my memory serves me correctly, Detroit lost Game 1 of the 2006 ALDS against the Yankees, but won the next 3 to take the series. The Tigers won the season series against the Yankees, including 3 straight wins in Detroit. Sure, we would all feel much more comfortable being a game up rather than a game down, but this series is far from over.
- The game wasn’t as lop-sided as the score indicated. Alburquerque made a mistake to Cano that cost 4 runs in the form of a grand slam. In the first inning (Friday), the Tigers made several defensive mistakes that could have easily prevented the first Yankee run from scoring. Eliminating those 5 runs makes it a 5-3 score. Although the result is still a loss, a 2 run loss sounds much better than a 6 loss.
- Miguel Cabrera. He knows what it takes to succeed in the postseason. In 2003, Cabrera won the World Series while playing with the Florida Marlins. His dangerous bat and past postseason experience will spark a dangerous Tigers offense before this series is over.
Before we throw in the towel, let’s wait and see what happens in Game 2. The Tigers battled are season long, and I guarantee they won’t go down without a fight.