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Tigers 3, Yankees 0: Dominant Anibal Sanchez and Phil Coke pitch Tigers to 2-0 ALCS lead

How do you stop talk of a closer controversy? You make the closer moot. Putting game 1 dramatics behind them, a dominant Anibal Sanchez and Phil Coke pitch the Tigers to a 3-0 victory and 2-0 ALCS lead.

Alex Trautwig - Getty Images

Final - 10.14.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 8 1
New York Yankees 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
WP: Anibal Sanchez (1 - 1)
SV: Phil Coke (1)
LP: Hiroki Kuroda (0 - 1)

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Anibal Sanchez and Phil Coke combined to shut out the New York Yankees on 4 hits, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 3-0 victory and a 2-0 lead in the ALCS.

Sanchez tossed 7 innings for the win, Coke went the final 2 to nail down the save. Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda was perfect for 5 innings, but was ultimately nicked for 3 runs and 5 hits in 7 2/3 innings, taking a hard luck loss.

Miguel Cabrera led the Tigers with 2 hits and an RBI, Avisail Garcia and Delmon Young also driving in runs.

In a very quick turn around after a very late night, ALCS game 2 started a little more than 14 hours after the end of an E ticket ride of a game 1, a 6-4 Tigers victory.

On short rest, no one expected Kuroda find himself in a pitcher's duel with Sanchez. We all thought wrong.

Kuroda opened game 2 by setting the Tigers down in order, including a 3 pitch strikeout of a pressing Miguel Cabrera.

Sanchez got into a 1st inning jam after 2 were down. Mark Teixeira doubled into the right field corner. Pitching extremely carefully to Raul Ibanez, Sanchez walked him on 5 pitches. With a chance to make it a 1-0 games, Russell Martin hit a hard come-backer to Sanchez, who pulled some impressive slight-of-hand. He snatched the ball out of the air with a behind the back grab, tossing to Prince Fielder to end the inning.

Still looking emotionally hung over after last night's (or more correctly, this morning's) dramatics in the top of the 2nd, Kuroda stuck out the side. Kuroda had faced 6 Tigers, 5 going down in strikes.

Leading off the bottom of the 2nd, a pair of slumping Yankees faced Sanchez. Alex Rodriguez struck out looking on a wicked breaking ball from Sanchez. A-Rod knew it immediately, walking away before the ump could finish his strike 3 punch out, the boos raining down. Curtis Granderson went down swinging, too more boos.

Nick Swisher followed with a humpback liner toward Infante. He knocked the ball down, but was unable to corral it, Swisher credited with a single.

Derek Jeter's replacement art short, Jayson Nix, sent Quintin Berry to to the warning track in left for the 3rd out. Berry made it as far scarier play than it should have been, breaking in a few steps before getting on his horse to run the fly ball down.

The top of 3 was more of the same. The Tigers embracing their inner Delmon Young, not working counts, fishing out Kuroda breaking balls out of the zone. They went down in order, Kuroda having struck out 7 of the 9 Tigers he faced.

Sanchez counted with his first 1-2-3 inning, the Yankees not hitting a ball out of the infield.

Top of 4, Kuroda needed only 3 pitches to induce both Jackson and Berry to bounce out 6-3. Cabrera was barely better, grounding out to A-Rod on 4 pitches.

Leading off the 4th, Ibanez singled after he was given new life when Avila couldn't flag down a shallow foul pop (It should have been Sanchez's ball, but he peeled off). Trying to get something going with Russell Martin at the plate, Yankees' manager Joe Gerardi sent the 40 year old DH. Martin swung and missed wildly, Avila throwing out Ibanez for the 1st out of the inning.

Sanchez exited the inning with little drama, Martin grounding out to Cabrera, A-Rod striking out for the 2nd consecutive at bat. Yankees fans kept the pressure on, booing their aging 3rd baseman even harder.

Kuroda's dominance continued in the 5th. Fielder, swinging for the short porch, hit a mile high pop up. Young stuck out for the 2nd straight at bat. Dirks actually made a bid for a base hit, but Robinson Cano went to right for the backhand stop,his throw nipping the Neck by a neck.

15 up, 15 down for the Tigers.The only ball out of the infield was Berry's fly ball in the 1st.

If Sanchez was fazed by the lack of run support, he didn't show it, tossing a 1-2-3 5th, including strikeouts of Granderson and Swisher.

Kuroda's no-no was no more when Jhonny Peralta bounced a single up the middle leading off the 6th. At least a perfect game was off the table. The shutout was still in play.

Avila's come-backer was off the glove of Kuroda, Nix throwing out the runner as Peralta moved into scoring position. Infante followed by wasting a pitch on a failed bunt, then hitting into a 5-3 ground out.

With 2 down, it was up to Jackson.He bounced to Nix on a 3-2 pitch, unable to get the run home. I'm not sure what is worse. The insane drama of last night or the complete frustration today.

Ichiro pulled off the swinging bunt trick leading off the 6th, Sanchez unable to grab the short hop, the ball spinning past him for an error. Once the ball got past the pitcher, Ichiro was good as on base.

Cano drilled a couple of hard fouls, then hit a nubber in front of the plate as Ichiro was running. Sanchez scared Tigers fans everywhere by going with a long underhand toss, getting Cano by a step.

Ichiro advanced to 3rd on Teixeira'a ground out. 1st base open, the Tigers decided not to mess with Ibanez, walking him in order to pitch to Martin. 1-2 count, Sanchez fooled Martin, but his checked swing sent a slow roller toward short. Peralta charged the ball, scooped it up with his base hand and threw out Martin by a step, saving a run.

Given a reprieve thanks to Peralta's defense, the Tigers immediately threatened in the 7th. Berry his a ball about as far as he can hit it to dead center, over Granderson's head. Berry was held to a double when the ball bounced over the wall.

That stoke of bad luck really hit home when Cabrera singled to right\, but the combination of a line drive and and Swisher charging the ball led Gene Lamont to hold Berry at 3rd. With Fielder due up, why risk getting thrown out?

Unfortunately, Fielder saw 6 pitches, not one in the strike zone, yet struck out swinging. 1 out, runners still on the corners.

Young came to the plate with a chance to be a hero for the 2nd straight game. Instead he became more of an accomplice to an accidental run. Down 1-2 in the count, Young hit a double play ball to short. Nix's throw got the out at 2nd, but with Cabrera rumbling toward him, Cano dropped the ball while trying to make the relay to 1st. Young was safe, Berry scored and the Tigers had a 1-0 lead almost by accident.

Even though the very large Cabrera was coming down the base path, he didn't get there in time for any sort of take out slide. Cano just plain botched the play.

Dirks bounced out to end the inning. Regardless, the Tigers had somehow, someway hung around long enough to take a lead. The question now, could they hold it?

Sanchez remained on the mound to start the 7th, his pitch count nearing the danger zone of 100. A-Rod lined to Berry for out number 1, was booed as per usual. When Granderson worked a base on balls, Al Alburquerque and Phil Coke started warming up.

Sanchez struck out Swisher on a change up, Granderson picking the right pitch to steal 2nd base. Avila never had a shot at throwing him out.

In what was likely going to be his last batter, Sanchez remained in the game to pitch to Nix with 2 down. Girardi elected not to pinch hit with a runner in scoring position. Avila dropped what looked like a foul tip strike 3 on a full count. Shaking off the near miss, Sanchez finished a brilliant outing by striking out Nix looking on a nasty change up.

Kuroda stuck out the first 2 Tigers he faced in the 8th, Peralta and Avila. Infante kept the inning alive singling to center. Jackson slapped a single to center, but Infante was caught off guard when Swisher threw behind him after taking a big turn at 2nd, Cano slapped the tag on Infante, but the Tigers caught caught a big time break when he was called safe.Replays showed (Hell, the naked eye showed) Infante was dead to rights.

Instead of the Yankees batting in the bottom of the 8th, the Tigers had a runner in scoring position with 2 outs, Kuroda pulled from the game for Boone Logan and Avisail Garcia pinch hitting for Berry.

The missed call would cost the Yankees.

Despite Logan busting Garcia on the fists, the rookie he delivered a dying quail RBI single to right, giving the Tigers a big insurance run.

Girardi left the dugout to yank Logan for Joba Chamberlain. During the commercial break, Girardi made sure to get his verbal licks in before getting tossed.

Cabrera being Cabrera, he went with Chamberlain's 2-1 pitch, lining an RBI single to right, Jackson scoring the 2nd run of the inning.

Exit Chamberlain, enter LOOGY Clay Rapada to face Fielder. It was a 9 pitch battle, bur Fielder worked a base on balls, loading the bases.

Exit Rapada, enter one Cody Eppley to to take on Young. The bases were left full, Young stuck out on 3 pitches.

The top of the 8th included 8 Tigers , 5 Yankees pitchers, 8 Tigers batters, 4 hits, 2 runs, a walk and blown call. Damn near an entire game in a half inning.

Sanchez having long since received the "Handshake of Doom," and a pair of lefties due up, Phil Coke started the 8th toeing the rubber for the Tigers, Ichiro sent a can of corn to Jackson. Cano pounded the ball into the turf to fielder for an easy unassisted out. Coke remained in to face the right hand hitting Teixeira, who popped out to Avila near the Yankees' dugout.

Coke was lights out. The only drama was Fielder nearly running into Avila on the foul pop.

Top of 9, the Tigers' fan base was in a panic wondering who was going to close in the bottom of the inning. While that was going on, Peralta singled with 1 down against Eppley, advanced to 2nd on Avila's ground ball, and was stranded when Infante struck out, the 13th Tiger to do so.

There was a Joaquin Benoit sighting in the bullpen in the top of the 9th, but Coke remained in the game to face the Ibanez. Coke blew an up and in fastball by him for strike 3.

With Coke throwing so well, absolutely pounding the strike zone, Leyland left Coke on the mound to face Martin. Coke struck him out swinging for the 2nd out.

A strike away from ending the game, A-Rod singled to center, keeping the game alive for Granderson.

A-rod took 2nd on defensive indifference as Coke got ahead of Granderson 1-2. Coke threw a breaking ball low and outside, Granderson did what he's done all series, wave at it for strike 3.

Game over!

Cue Phil Coke finger pointing!

The Tigers take a 2-0 series lead with the next 3 games in Detroit. That's known as taking a stranglehold on a series.


Bullets are brought to you by the "YUUUUM!" guy.


  • On this date in 1984, the Detroit Tigers defeated the San Diego Padres 8-4 in game 5 of the World Series for their first championship since 1968 and 4th in franchise history. Rusty Kuntz had the game winning RBI, home runs by Lance Parrish and Kirk Gibson sealed the victory. The winning pitcher was Senior Smoke, Aurelio Lopez. Willie Hernandez pitched the final 2 innings for his 3rd save of the series. It's fitting Phil Coke had a 2 inning save on the anniversary.
  • After Quintin Berry took another of his interesting outfield routes to run down a fly ball in the 2nd, the social networks filled up with "Berry needs GPS" jokes. Some things never get old. The jokes, not Berry's routes.
  • After 3 innings, the pitch counts were almost identical: Sanchez 43-27, Kuroda 42-27. The difference being the Yankees had 2 hits, the Tigers were hitless with 7 strikeouts.
  • Kuiroda has a perfect game through 4 innings. You never would have known it listening to the TBS booth. The top of the 4th was spent interviewing Doug Fister, who did what all athletes do in these waste of time mind-game interviews, spew cliches. Nothing against Fister, I don't blame him one bit. Why the networks believe these interviews add anything to game is beyond me.
  • The lack of run support early on for Sanchez was beyond ridiculous. Via Jason Beck: The Tigers haven't scored a run with Anibal Sanchez on the mound since the 1st inning of his complete game 3-hitter over the Royals on Sept. 25. Thankfully, that is no longer true.
  • TBS was giving Sanchez absolutely no credit. After he struck out Curtis Granderson in the 5th, Ron Darling and John Smolz went off, saying those were bad pitches, the Yankees just weren't hitting them. I rolled my eyes so hard, I sprained them.
  • BREAKING NEWS: TBS made sure to remind us every half inning Derek Jeter's ankle remains fractured. In Ernie Johnson's words, "It transcends baseball." Yes, he really said that.
  • Yankees manager Joe Girardi was been ejected 4 times in 2012. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, all 4 were against the Tigers. (Later on, Onley said it was 5 ejections, 4 vs the Tigers)
  • I planned on watching Tigers - Yankees all afternoon. Instead a National League game broke out at 6:45, as there were 4 pitching changes in the 8th. The only other explanation was Robin Ventura is managing the Yankees after Girardi's ejection.
  • Via @Thompson_Tigers: Sanchez blanking the Yankees on 3 hits over 7 innings is the 5th time a Tigers pitcher has worked 7+ scoreless with 3 or fewer hits in a post season game. The other Tigers are Kenny Rogers (twice in 2006), Milt Wilcox (1984) and the immortal Bobo Newsom (1940)
  • Thanks to Sanchez's 7 shutout innings, the the playoff ERA for the Tigers' starting rotation has dropped to a ridiculously good 0.94. Good? No, that's INSANE.
  • The Tigers' starters have combined to throw 29 2/3 shutout innings, 1 inning away from breaking the record of 30 1/3, set by the 1974 Oakland Athletics. This is why the Tigers are going to be such a tough out in the playoffs.
  • Cabrera' 8th inning RBI was his 12th as a Tiger, tying him with, yes, Delmon Young for 3rd in franchise history.
  • Robinson Cano is in the slump of all slumps, hitless in his last 26 at bats, the longest playoff streak on record.
  • In the post game, Girardi made an impassioned plea for instant replay. He should have been making a plea for more offense. When it was brought up the Yankees didn't score any runs, Girardi countered with,"It's different when it's 1-0 than when it's 3-0. In this day and age, there's too much at stake & the technology is available."
  • If you believe TBS, the reason the Tigers are 2-0 is a broken Jeter ankle and a bad 8th inning call. Dennis Eckersley was the lone voice of sanity, bringing up the Yankees only had 4 hits today.


Jose Valverde is the Tigers' closer in name only, Jim Leyland will temporarily go with a bullpen by committee.

Derek Jeter is out for the season with a fractured ankle.



Anibal Sanchez showed off his slight of hand street magician skills with a behind the back stab in the 1st inning.


If you looked just at the pitch tracking, you would have believed it was a Delmon Young strikeout mirror image, not Prince Fielder hacking away.


I don't blame Yankees fans for being up in arms over this play.



Anibal Sanchez: Went mano-a-mano with a pitcher throwing a perfect game, holding the Yankees at bay until the offense could get untracked.

Phil Coke: That's how you close out a game, pounding the strike zone for an old school 2 inning save.

Miguel Cabrera: 2 hits and an RBI, I think the big man is OK

Jhonny Peralta: Broke up the no-hitter and saved a run with a great defensive play.


Avisail Garcia: The rookie still looks overwhelmed at times, but you can't argue with the results.


2nd base umpire Jeff Nelson: The game turned on his blatantly bad call.

TBS: Anyone else think the tone of the TBS broadcast changed when the Tigers took control of the game?


In game 1, "elmn" didn't have to play D and had plenty of O. An 8th inning home run and 12th inning game-winning RBI double pushed Delmon Young over the top in the PotG voting, winning with 55% of the vote.