There should be no debate on this point:
If you have one game to win, and you are looking for one pitcher, his name has to be Justin Verlander.
Verlander proved it again last night as he held the Yankees to a pair of Ichiro Suzuki singles and a 9th inning leadoff homer by Eduardo Nunez, as his Tigers defeated the Yankees, 2-1, to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the ALCS and the Yankees on the brink of re-evaluating the future of their aging team.
Now it's not as if the Yankees didn't battle Verlander.
"There were some good at-bats tonight. The ball was not carrying tremendously well tonight, we know that," Yankee manager Joe Girardi told the AP. "But I think he ended up with three strikeouts. So our guys put the ball in play and tried to get on base, but, you know, when you face Verlander, you know what you're up against."
Verlander did indeed have just three strikeouts.
Over the last two brilliant seasons, in which Verlander has recorded 489 strikeouts in 489.1 innings pitched, he has had five three-strikeout games in the regular season.
|1||2012-09-08||DET||LAA||L 1-6||GS-6 ,L||6.0||9||6||6||2||3||97||60|
|2||2012-06-19||DET||STL||W 6-3||GS-7 ,W||7.0||5||3||1||4||3||108||70|
|3||2011-05-29 (2)||DET||BOS||W 3-0||GS-8 ,W||7.2||4||0||0||2||3||132||83|
If you are looking for a similar start from the list above, the most like last night's win was Verlander's eight innings of shutout ball tossed against the Red Sox in 2011 when he threw 132 pitches (83 strikes) while striking out three. Last night, Verlander threw 132 pitches as well, with 86 strikes, with three strikeouts.
Here are the most pitches this season for a pitcher who struck out three or less.
|1||Derek Lowe||2012-05-15||CLE||MIN||W 5-0||SHO9 ,W||9.0||0||127||76|
|2||Gavin Floyd||2012-07-01||CHW||NYY||L 2-4||GS-6 ,L||5.1||3||122||70|
|3||Jon Lester||2012-08-30||BOS||LAA||L 2-5||CG 8 ,L||8.0||2||121||77|
|4||Johnny Cueto||2012-04-28||CIN||HOU||W 6-0||GS-7 ,W||7.0||3||120||78|
|5||Anibal Sanchez||2012-08-29||DET||KCR||L 0-1||GS-7 ,L||7.0||1||119||77|
|6||Jordan Lyles||2012-07-17||HOU||SDP||L 2-8||GS-6 ,L||6.0||3||118||75|
|7||Kyle Drabek||2012-05-21||TOR||TBR||W 6-2||GS-6 ,W||6.0||3||118||64|
|8||Kevin Millwood||2012-08-31||SEA||LAA||L 1-9||GS-5 ,L||5.0||1||117||73|
|9||Ryan Vogelsong||2012-05-14||SFG||COL||W 3-2||GS-7||7.0||3||117||71|
|10||Madison Bumgarner||2012-04-12||SFG||COL||W 4-2||GS-8 ,W||7.1||2||117||75|
|11||Chris Volstad||2012-09-21||CHC||STL||W 5-4||GS-5||5.0||0||116||68|
|12||Tim Hudson||2012-08-03||ATL||HOU||W 4-1||GS-8 ,W||7.1||3||116||72|
|13||Aaron Harang||2012-06-29||LAD||NYM||L 0-9||GS-6 ,L||5.2||3||116||68|
|14||Mark Buehrle||2012-05-05||MIA||SDP||W 4-1||CG 9 ,W||9.0||3||116||77|
The Yankees battled Verlander on two strikes
Verlander last night threw 41 two-strike pitches. The Yankees swung at 32 and missed on just three. They put 13 in play and fouled off 16. But as further testimony of his control (he walked no one) but he knew how to tempt and fool the Yankees: Of these 32 wo-strike pitches, only 18 were in the strike zone and the Yankees chased 14.
1st inning: 92.6 average velocity/95.3 maximum velocity
2nd inning: 90.1 average velocity/95.3 maximum velocity
3rd inning: 94.6 average velocity/97.0 maximum velocity
4th inning: 92.7 average velocity/97.0 maximum velocity
5th inning: 91.2 average velocity/96.7 maximum velocity
6th inning: 91.4 average velocity/97.4 maximum velocity
7th inning: 91.4 average velocity/98.2 maximum velocity
8th inning: 91.6 average velocity/98.4 maximum velocity
9th inning: 91.8 average velocity/99.3 maximum velocity
From the 5th inning on, Verlander's average velocity increased each inning and his maximum velocity increased as well.