NEW YORK (MCT) — The Detroit Tigers didn’t come into Yankee Stadium with the idea of taking the crowd out of the American League Championship Series games.
But by the middle of the Tigers’ 3-0 win over the Yankees on Sunday, the fans were too busy booing their own struggling hitters to pay attention to anything the Tigers were doing to make them struggle in the first place.
“That’s just what they do anyways, right?” Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder said. “You just try to play good baseball. Unfortunately it’s not like basketball. You can’t make a dunk and shut the crowd up. You’ve just got to play baseball.”
That’s what the Tigers did all weekend, getting solid starting pitching, timely hitting and some good defense to put the Yankees in a 2-0 hole in the ALCS.
Anibal Sanchez pitched seven shutout innings Sunday, combining with reliever Phil Coke on a four-hit shutout. After Monday’s off day, reigning Cy Young winner Justin Verlander takes the mound in Game 3 as the Tigers go for the kill against the suddenly vulnerable Yankees, playing without their injured leader, Derek Jeter.
Of the 22 previous teams to take a 2-0 lead in an LCS, all but three have gone on to play in the World Series. And any time Verlander takes the mound, the confidence level rises exponentially.
“A lot of confidence,” outfielder Austin Jackson said. “He’s the guy we want on the mound in these tough games. He’s been pitching great for us and giving us a chance in each and every game he pitches.”
After being held without a baserunner by Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda through five innings Sunday, the Tigers snapped a scoreless tie in the seventh on an RBI groundout by Delmon Young. Moments earlier, a fan wearing an Alex Rodriguez jersey prevented Mark Teixeira from catching a foul popup with runners on the corners and one out.
Young then grounded to shortstop Jayson Nix, who threw to second for the force. Second baseman Robinson Cano had a chance to complete an inning-ending double play but bobbled the ball after the out as Quintin Berry scored from third.
The Tigers got a break in the eighth when second base umpire Jeff Nelson missed a call, ruling Omar Infante slid safely back into second to beat a throw from Nick Swisher on a single to right. Replays proved Nelson was wrong, and even Infante conceded he was tagged out by Cano.
“It’s tough for an umpire, because I was doing something with my hand,” Infante said. “I think that’s why he was confused. I was surprised. I thought he’d call me out.”
Nelson said he thought Infante’s hand was on the bag before Cano tagged his chest but admitted “the call was incorrect.” The Tigers added two more runs after the missed call to take a 3-0 lead.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected after arguing the call twice, said it was “frustrating” to stomach an umpiring error in such a big game.
“But in this day and age, when we have instant replay available to us, it’s got to change,” he said. “It’s a tough call for (Nelson) because the tag is underneath and it’s hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than when you get the call right. Too much is at stake. We play 235 days to get to this point and two calls go against us (in two nights).”
Coke pitched the last two innings with closer Jose Valverde benched, sending the Tigers home with a chance to close it out in four or five games at Comerica Park.
“We played good in a tough place to play against a great team,” manager Jim Leyland said. “You have to be very happy with that.”