Series: 2-0, Detroit
Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Comerica Park
Tickets: Check for availability from TiqIQ
SB Nation Blog: Pinstriped Bible
Pitching Matchup: RHP Phil Hughes (16-13, 4.23 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 ERA)
Hughes scuffled a bit down the stretch for the Yankees, posting a 5.19 ERA in the month of September. The Yankees were still 4-2 with Hughes on the mound during that stretch, but this may have more to do with the opponents -- four of the six teams they faced in these games finished below .500 -- than Hughes' performance itself. That being said, Hughes pitched very well in the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings in a Game 4 loss.
Hughes made two appearances out of the bullpen in the 2011 ALDS against the Tigers, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and no walks. This year, both of Hughes' starts against the Tigers came at Comerica Park. He threw a complete game on June 1st, his only one of the season. His return to Detroit on August 7th didn't go so well, as he allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
There aren't enough superlatives to describe what Verlander did in his last start. It makes sense, then, that I have been saying stuff like this for six months now. Verlander was 1-1 with a 3.10 ERA against the Yankees this season. One of those outings was the aforementioned Phil Hughes complete game. The second was the bullpen implosion in Yankee Stadium way back on April 27th. The third? An eight-inning gem in which he struck out 14 Yankee hitters on national television. Since that point, Verlander is 8-1 with a 2.31 ERA and has struck out 109 batters in 93 2/3 innings.
I'm interested to see how Hughes handles pitching on the road in this game. In his only two career road playoff starts -- both of which came in the 2010 ALCS against the Texas Rangers -- Hughes has allowed 11 earned runs in just 8 2/3 innings. This season, Hughes allowed a 4.76 ERA in 16 starts away from Yankee Stadium. That being said, none of this trivia has any effect on tonight's game. With Verlander on the mound, the Tigers should win. If they can continue the formula of the first two games -- excellent pitching, timely hitting, and surprisingly solid defense -- they should pick up another win.
Another excellent outing from Verlander puts the Yankees on the brink of elimination.