The Detroit Tigers have built a team for the postseason based on the belief that power arms are the foundation for success.
So far, so good.
The Tigers grabbed a 3-0 lead on the New York Yankees on Tuesday night behind another standout start from ace Justin Verlander and will try to close out the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night behind another power pitcher, Max Scherzer.
“We’re facing one of the best pitchers in baseball,” manager Jim Leyland said, citing New York’s CC Sabathia, “but we’ve got a good one going for us.
“All the teams at this time of year are hard to beat. We’re fortunate, certainly. We’ve put ourselves in decent position, but that’s all we’ve done.”
Power pitching carried Detroit to within two wins of reaching the World Series a year ago, and the Tigers have added Anibal Sanchez to Verlander, Scherzer and Doug Fister, who doesn’t categorize as a power arm but whose mix of pitches and ability to spot his pitches lets him dominate in his own way. Tigers starters have allowed one run in the first three games.
“A 3-0 lead is a great benefit right now,” left fielder Delmon Young said. “We’re not looking at it as we clinch, we’re just going in to win a baseball game.”
Dominating starting pitching is the theme of the postseason for Detroit right how.
Verlander gave up a run in his first postseason inning — a leadoff home run by Oakland’s Coco Crisp — and another run in his most recent, a solo shot by Eduardo Nunez of New York leading off the ninth Tuesday night. In between he hung up 23 scoreless innings.
Detroit’s starters put up 37 straight innings allowing just one unearned run from the run Sanchez gave up in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the Division Series to the home run Verlander served up on a hanging curve in the ninth Tuesday.
“Pitching is contagious just like hitting is,” Verlander said. “We’re all competitive. You see somebody have a good game and you want to go out and one-up that guy. Think we’re starting to click at the right time.”
He’s given Scherzer something to shoot for Wednesday — or Thursday if the predicted rain washes out the game.