Make us your home page
Instagram

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 topkin@tampabay.com.

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

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

  2. Family a driving force for University of Tampa pitcher David Lebron

    College

    TAMPA — For University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron, baseball reminds him of family. He uses it to help honor the memory of his father, who taught him the game. One day, he hopes his career can help support his mother and allow her to rest.

    University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron (Courtesy of University of Tampa)
  3. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021

    Blogs

    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another chance at landing a Super Bowl in February 2021.

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.
  4. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston honored in NFL top 100

    Blogs

    Helping fans pass time through the offseason each summer, NFL Network has been unveiling its top 100 players for 2017 as chosen by the players, and the Bucs' Gerald McCoy and Jameis Winston are the first Tampa Bay players revealed, coming in at No. 52 and 57, respectively.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis WInston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, shown in the 2016 season finale against the Panthers, have both been named to the NFL Network's top 100 players for 2017.
  5. The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.