The Detroit Tigers are in perfect position to put a stranglehold on the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series as they send ace Justin Verlander to the mound Tuesday in Game 3 while owning a 2-0 series lead.
Detroit posted a 6-4 victory in 12 innings in the series opener as Delmon Young collected three RBIs, including the game-winner. Young also notched the game-winning RBI in Game 2, but the story was Anibal Sanchez, who yielded three hits and struck out seven in seven scoreless innings.
ClickOnDetroit.com will have updates throughout the game.
Save for two innings, the Yankees' offense has struggled mightily this postseason. The club scored five runs in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the AL Division Series against Baltimore and four in the ninth of Saturday's series opener versus Detroit. In its other 70 playoff innings, New York has totaled 11 runs.
Robinson Cano, who ended the regular season on a 24-for-39 tear, is hitting .063 in the playoffs and is mired in an 0-for-26 drought, the longest in one postseason in major league history. Curtis Granderson (.115) has struck out 14 times in 26 at-bats and Alex Rodriguez (.130) 12 times in 23 at-bats.
Pitching matchup: Yankees RH Phil Hughes (0-0, 1.35 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (2-0, 0.56)
Hughes came up with a strong performance in Game 4 of the ALDS but settled for a no-decision after allowing one run and four hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts at Comerica Park during the regular season, tossing a four-hitter June 3 before yielding four runs in 4 1/3 innings of a loss Aug. 7. Hughes faced Detroit twice in relief during last year's ALDS, allowing two hits and striking out four over 2 1/3 scoreless frames.
After allowing only one run and three hits over seven innings in a Game 1 victory over Oakland in the ALDS, Verlander tossed a four-hit shutout in the decisive five game. He issued five walks over 16 innings and struck out 11 in each contest. The 29-year-old went 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA in his first two starts of the year against New York before yielding two unearned runs and striking out a career high-tying 14 in eight innings of a home victory Aug. 6. Verlander, who pitched one inning in last year's ALDS opener before the rains came and ended his night, yielded four runs and fanned 11 over eight frames in a Game 3 victory.
Hughes' complete-game victory over Detroit on June 3 came against Verlander.
Verlander led the major leagues with 239 strikeouts during the regular season, while teammate and Game 4 starter Max Scherzer was second with 231.
New York is 4-4 in series in which it lost the first two games, while Detroit has completed sweeps both times it took a 2-0 series lead. Since the LCS expanded to seven games in 1985, 20 of the 23 clubs that won the first two games went on to capture the series.