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Thames and Tigers Feast on Punchless Yankees

After seeing the full potential of the Yankees powerful lineup in Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and New York, no less could have been expected from the best 1-to-9 offense in baseball. Fans who shared that expectation with me were disappointed by the Yankees play today. But my true feeling coming out of this game was that the Tigers impressed in almost every aspect of baseball.

Marcus Thames (left) put his former team, the Yankees, away

One of this year’s best surprises was at it again in Game 2 for the Tigers. Marcus Thames went 3-for-4 with a double, two singles, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Shortstop Carlos Guillen added a solo homerun to tie the game in the 6th, and centerfielder Curtis Granderson drilled a triple in the 7th inning, driving in Thames as the game’s winning run. The Tigers bats knocked 8 hits in the ballgame and conquered Yankees’ starter Mike Mussina for 4 runs in 7 innings. Jim Leyland’s team came through when they needed a win just as the Tigers have done all season.

Justin Verlander pitched well, but the real story was the Tigers’ bullpen

Any time you escape a start against the Yankees having allowed less than 4 runs, you’ve got to be pleased with yourself. Justin Verlander’s 5.1 inning outing in which he allowed 11 baserunners was in no way spectacular, but it was good enough, and all the Tigers could have reasonably asked of their rookie phenom. He allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks while K’ing 5. All 3 Yankees runs were scored in the 4th inning, when Johnny Damon hit a 3-run homerun. The 4th was Verlander’s only erratic frame — the rest of his outing was acceptable, if not darn solid.

Joel Zumaya showed no rookie jitters in his first playoff appearance


But as I mentioned, the true winners of this game were the Tigers’ relief pitchers. Jamie Walker was the first, and he got Robinson Cano to ground into a double-play, ending the Yankees 6th inning threat. Walker pitched to one more batter in the 7th inning, before giving way to flamethrower Joel Zumaya. The Yankees Stadium radar gun could scarcely handle Zoom’s heat, as he touched 100MPH several times while dominating the heart of the Yankees lineup to the tune of 3 strikeouts in 1.2 perfect innings. Todd Jones came in to pitch the 9th inning, and allowed a leadoff single, but escaped unscathed.

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Jason Giambi’s Yankees did not match the Tigers’ energy

As I said, a ton of credit needs to be given to the Tigers’ pitching staff for the job they did calming down the Yankees’ infinitely powerful heart-of-the-order. It wasn’t so powerful today, as the 2-thru-6 hitters (Jeter-Abreu-Sheffield-Giambi-Rodriguez) combined to go 2-for-18 with 0RBIs and 0 runs scored. Sheffield and Giambi each whiffed twice, and “the third baseman”, Alex Rodriguez, went down on strikes 3 times. The only two Yankees hitters who did anything today were Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Damon went 2-for-5 with a 3-run upper-deck blast, and Matsui knocked 3 hits in 4 at-bats. When only 22% of your lineup contributes to the action, you can’t go far, and the Yankees learned that lesson today.

Saying that Mike Mussina pitched badly would be a lie, but today was not the Moose’s finest hour

The Yankees’ pitching staff did a relatively decent job holding the Tigers in check in Game 2, but starter Mike Mussina was unable to keep an early lead. Mussina pitched 7 innings allowing 8 hits and 4 runs (all earned), walking none and sending 5 Tigers down on strikes. It was not in any way a horrible outing, but the Moose was pitching from the stretch quite a bit, thanks to the Tigers’ relentless bats. Relievers Scott Proctor and Brian Bruney kept the Tigers scoreless in the final two frames, but MoTown had scored all the runs it would need.

Final score: Tigers 4 Yankees 3

Pitchers of Record

W: Jamie Walker

L: Mike Mussina

S: Todd Jones

Series tied 1-1 and headed to Detroit for games 3 and 4.

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Trivia!

The question and answer from yesterday…

Q: The Mets last won the World Series in 1986 over the Boston Red Sox. Who was the MVP of that World Series?

A: Ray Knight (3B). Knight hit .391 and played in all 7 games of the Series.

Today’s question is…

Marcus Thames made his MLB debut on 6/10/2002 for the Yankees. During that game, he became the 17th player in MLB history (at that time) to do what?

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