Results tagged ‘ Max Sherzer ’

Nova 2nd rookie to start do-or-die playoff game

Ivan Nova’s victory in Game 1 of the American League Division Series was technically a relief appearance because of the rain suspension, so Thursday night he was becoming only the second rookie to start a winner-take-all postseason game.

The only other was Phillies righthander Marty Bystrom in Game 5 of the 1980 National League Championship Series at Houston. Bystrom was not involved in the decision, an 8-7, 10-inning Philadelphia victory. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned), 7 hits and 2 walks with 1 strikeout in 5 1/3 innings.

Frankly, Yankees manager Joe Girardi would take that from Nova, who held the Tigers to 2 runs and 4 hits with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts in Game 1, a 9-3 Yankees rout. Their bullpen is pretty fresh all things considered, thanks to the length they got from A.J. Burnett in Game 4 at Detroit.

Girardi also has the option of using CC Sabathia out of the pen against a left-handed batter who likely would not have seen him since most of the Tigers’ lefty hitters were in platoon situations. I would also not be surprised if Joe used either David Robertson or Mariano Rivera and perhaps even both to pitch two innings.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland remained adamant that Game 3 winner Justin Verlander, the AL Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player candidate, will not pitch in Game 5. Yankees fans may think that is a ruse, but I believe him. Verlander did his job, and Leyland doesn’t want to tax his ace who was still throwing 100 miles per hour in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

Besides, the Tigers have Game 2 winner Max Sherzer, who shut out the Yankees for six-plus innings at Yankee Stadium, available as a long man should Game 1 loser Doug Fister falter. That is not chopped liver.

The Yankees were playing a winner-take-all ALDS Game 5 for the seventh time and the first since they lost to the Angels in 2005. It was the Yanks’ ninth deciding game in the best-of-5 format, also including the AL Championship Series of 1976 and ’77, both against the Royals.

Thursday night was the Yankees’ fourth Game 5 in a best-of-5 series at home. They had won the previous three: 1976 ALCS against the Royals, 1981 ALDS against the Brewers and 2001 ALDS against the Athletics. Overall, the Bombers are 5-3 in Game 5 of best-of-5 series and 11-10 all time in winner-take-all games, including 6-7 in Game 7s. They are 8-6 in ALDS games when facing elimination.

Andy back to Stadium for the postseason

Andy Pettitte made another postseason start Sunday – sort of. The all-time leader in postseason starts with 42 ran to the mound before Game 2 of the American League Division Series wearing a blue sweat suit and threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a strike to his old battery mate, Jorge Posada, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter. Jorgie’s catching duties now are relegated to pregame activities. He handled the chores before Game 1 as well with Mariano Rivera.

Andy’s wife, Laura, also did a nice job singing the National Anthem.

Following Andy to the hill was Freddy Garcia for Game 2 as the long-debated third starter. Who would follow CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova in the rotation for the playoffs was a subject of debate around the Yankees for months. Sabathia and Nova both pitched in Game 1 because rain Friday night caused the game to be suspended and resumed Saturday night.

Yankees fans would probably have been elated if told they would get five innings from Garcia and allow only two runs over that period. That is what they got. After Miguel Cabrera homered off a 2-0 pitch to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead, Garcia gave up no runs and one hit over the next four innings. Freddy even pitched decently in the sixth, but a rare error by Derek Jeter began a Detroit rally.

Jeter had made the key fielding play in Game 1, taking a throw from center fielder Curtis Granderson and relaying the ball to the plate to get Alex Avila trying to score in the fifth inning. Avila did not slide, which sort of helped matters. It was a 1-1 game at that point, so the play was huge. It got obscured when the Yankees scored six runs the next inning to pull away.

Here’s a funny thing about that play. Granderson was not thinking about a play at the plate when he threw the ball in. He got the ball to the infield as quickly as he could because he wanted to keep the double play in order. Jhonny Peralta’s hit was of the dying quail variety, and Curtis didn’t want him to get beyond first base. Avila had to hold up to see if the ball would fall, which Jeter noticed so when he got Granderson’s relay he did not hesitate and threw home for what at the time was a vital out.

That is what makes Jeter such a great shortstop despite all the crap you may read about with all these boutique fielding statistics that are no more revealing than fielding percentage. The Captain is human, however, and therefore capable of making mistakes. DJ’s errors are usually on throws, which was the case in the sixth as leadoff hitter Austin Jackson reached first base.

The Tigers began sitting on Garcia’s off-speed stuff, which had been effective for five innings. Magglio Ordonez singled on a splitter that stayed up. Cabrera singled home a run off a changeup and Victor Martinez did likewise off a curve before Boone Logan came in to stop the bleeding with two strikeouts.

The 4-0 spread looked pretty secure in the hard-throwing right arm of Max Scherzer, who took a no-hitter into the sixth. Robinson Cano broke the string by dunking a one-out single to left off a 97-mph fastball. Scherzer gave up only one other hit.