Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Detroit Tigers pitch Justin Verlander against New York Yankees in Game 3 of ALCS

Defending AL MVP and Cy Young Justin Verlander is in an enviable position: Taking the mound at home with his team up 2-0 in the ALCS.

Associated Press

Defending AL MVP and Cy Young Justin Verlander is in an enviable position: Taking the mound at home with his team up 2-0 in the ALCS.

Jim Leyland is smart enough to know that the reason for the pitiful performance by the Yankees hitters in the first two games of the American League Championship Series is the prized pitching by his Detroit Tigers.

And wise enough to not assume — at least publicly — that it's going to continue.

"I am nervous about this because you know the Yankees are going to break out. They are just too good," Leyland said Monday on a conference call. "Believe me, we are not feeling real comfortable yet, I can tell you."

Uh-huh. But he'll be plenty comfy for Game 3 tonight in starting potentially the best pitcher in the game, Justin Verlander.

"The confidence as far as when he is on the mound that we can win the game is about as high as you can get," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "I think that's the feeling all the guys have when he's on the mound. Which, you know, really it's a good feeling, to be honest with you."

Verlander, the primary competition for David Price's Cy Young bid, followed his 17-8, 2.64 regular season with a pair of dazzling Division Series starts against the A's, allowing one run over seven innings in the opener then pitching a four-hit, 11-strikeout, 122-pitch shutout in Game 5. "In the postseason, it's a hold nothing back mentality," he said.

As good as Verlander, who won the Cy Young and MVP awards last season, has been, he has found a way to turn it up.

"I think he is even better. Yes, I do, to answer the basic question," Leyland said. "I think he is better, but I think it is because of experience. When you have a talent, the combination of talent and experience like he has, that's a pretty good combination."

Part of that experience is not stirring a slumping opponent, and Verlander stayed right down the middle of the plate with his comments. "We're not taking anything for granted," he said. "We know what the Yankees are capable of."

But with four runs in the two games, a .205 team average and .603 on-base plus slugging percentage for the postseason and Derek Jeter unable to help, the Yankees haven't looked anything like themselves.

The situation isn't promising for a turnaround, with Verlander (9-2, 1.65 at home) on the hill and a 3-0 deficit looming. While acknowledging their underdog status and long odds, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said there is at least some confidence in knowing they've beaten Verlander before (winning two of his three starts this season) and, more importantly, what they're in for — the 100-mph fastball, the killer curve and tempting changeup.

"As a hitter, you want to face a familiar pitcher," he said. "Even if he happens to be the best pitcher on the planet right now and maybe the best in the last 10-15 years."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

Detroit Tigers pitch Justin Verlander against New York Yankees in Game 3 of ALCS 10/15/12 [Last modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 8:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-Louisville


    1. One of the many hard-to-believe stats about FSU's underperforming defense: DE Brian Burns led all freshmen nationally with 9 ½ sacks last year; his first one this season came midway through the second quarter Saturday.

    TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs the ball into the endzone for a touchdown during their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) 775042617
  2. Late fumble, field goal send Florida State to another loss


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State's streak of 35 consecutive bowl appearances is in serious jeopardy after a last-second 31-28 home loss to Louisville on Saturday.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson gets past Florida State's Matthew Thomas to score in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC102
  3. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  4. Nicked-up Lightning vs. Penguins tonight



  5. What we've learned from the Bucs' and Bills' playoff droughts


    Is it possible for the Buccaneers and Bills to be any farther off the NFL's radar? You get the feeling schedule-makers didn't think twice about putting this one down for 1 p.m. Sunday — the let's-hope-no-one-notices time slot.

    [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]