CC fails to match up against Verlander
The Yankees took an aggressive approach against American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander in the first inning, and it paid off for a 2-0 lead in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.
Derek Jeter went after the first pitch and singled through the middle. Curtis Granderson took the first pitch for a ball, then fouled off two pitches before driving a triple to left-center that scored Jeter. Detroit’s Comerica Park is a bit of a triples yard. There were 44 three-baggers hit there in the regular season. Only Denver’s Coors Field and Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium had more, 49 apiece. Playing at Comerica for the Tigers, Granderson led the AL in triples with 23 in 2007 and 13 in 2008. Curtis had 10 triples this year, third in the league.
Speaking of triples, the Elias Sports Bureau reports that Jorge Posada , who tripled in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, became only the second 40 year-old to triple in postseason play. The other was Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who was also 40 when he did for the Phillies in Game 5 of the 1983 World Series against the Orioles at Philadelphia.
Alex Rodriguez remained hitless in the series but made contact to get Granderson home with a groundout to third base. The two-run lead was a nice way to get CC Sabathia started, but the lefthander was not at the top of his game. The hope was that he could settle in at some point, but his difficulty in throwing strikes pushed his pitch count up so that he was one pitch shy of 100 in five innings.
Three double plays saved CC, who walked six batters (one intentionally) over five innings. He had no more than four walks in any one start this year. One of those double plays scored a run, in the third inning when the Tigers tied the score. Ramon Santiago, who singled in the other run that inning, put Detroit ahead, 3-2, in the fifth with a double. In both cases, Santiago drove home Brandon Inge, the 9-hole hitter who batted .197 this year and has had scant career success against Sabathia (.190 in 58 at-bats) but who doubled and singled off him the first two times up.
Even worse than Inge against Sabathia is Jhonny Peralta, who has one hit in 17 career at-bats (.059) in regular season play. Sabathia came out for the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Don Kelly on a well-placed bunt. Peralta, who had grounded into a double back in the second, got a different kind of double this time, one off the wall that scored Kelly. CC was gone after Alex Avila sacrificed Peralta to third before having to face Inge a third time.
Verlander, meanwhile, just got stronger. Brett Gardner bunted for a single leading off the third but was erased on a double play. Verlander, whose fastball hit triple figures several times, struck out the side in the fifth and added two more punchouts in the sixth after Jeter had led off with a single.
Sabathia and Verlander, whose Game 1 start was suspended because of rain, were the first pitchers to start Games 1 and 3 of a postseason series since Kevin Brown for the Padres in the 1998 National League Division Series against the Astros. The previous time it occurred for an AL pitcher was Oakland’s Dave Stewart in the 1989 World Series against the Giants. There was a 12-day gap between Games 2 and 3 in that series because of an earthquake. Sabathia was the first Yankees pitcher to do it since Hall of Famer Whitey Ford lost Game 1 of the 1956 World Series at Brooklyn and came back on two days’ rest to win a complete game in Game 3 at the Stadium.