Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer had a very up-and-down regular season. When he was good, he was great. When he was bad, it often got ugly.
On Sunday afternoon in New York City, the 27-year-old couldn’t have been much better.
Scherzer issued two first-inning walks, but settled in soon after and held the Yankees’ star-studded lineup hitless until Game 1 standout Robinson Cano blooped a single to left field in the sixth inning.
Scherzer wound up throwing six scoreless frames, yielding only two hits and striking out five Yankees while hurling 61 of his 104 pitches for strikes. He was aided offensively by Magglio Ordonez, who went 3-for-3, and Miguel Cabrera, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBI. Victor Martinez also drove in a run.
Curtis Granderson put the Yankees on the board with an eighth-inning solo home run and Nick Swisher added a solo shot off Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the bottom of the ninth. Then Jorge Posada tripled for the first time in 2011 and scored on an Andruw Jones sacrifice fly. But Valverde eventually got the job done for Detroit, and the Tigers tied the series with an exhilarating 5-3 Game 2 victory.
* Ordonez laced a one-out single in the top of the first inning, then Cabrera lined a two-run homer into the right field seats. It wasn’t a bad pitch, and Cabrera didn’t make especially great contact. You have to wonder how many home runs Cabrera would hit to that right field porch if he called Yankee Stadium home.
* Yankees starter Freddy Garcia retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced after Cabrera’s two-run blast, then got himself into trouble again in the sixth inning. He allowed six hits and four runs over 5 1/3 frames.
* Derek Jeter nearly led off the bottom of the first inning with an extra-base hit, but speedy Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson retreated quickly and snared the ball on the run just before the warning track.
* The sun was shining brightly at Yankee Stadium in the early innings, causing some problems for both team’s outfielders. But it was a welcome sight for a series that has already featured a 27-hour rain delay.
* Rain made another appearance in the bottom of the seventh inning, but only for a quick shower. It reappeared in the bottom of the ninth and was coming down hard as the Yankees attempted a comeback.
* Posada drew a tough walk in the fifth inning that seemed to throw Scherzer slightly off his rhythm. The Detroit right-hander hit the next better he faced (Yankees catcher Russell Martin) before getting out of the jam. The Yankees finally broke through with their first hit in the very next frame.
* Posada followed a leadoff walk by Nick Swisher with a single up the middle, driving Scherzer from the game in the seventh. But Joaquin Benoit came on in relief and retired three straight batters — fanning two.
* Cabrera caught the Yanks napping in the eighth inning and stole the first base of his postseason career.
* Alex Rodriguez finished 0-for-3 with a walk and is now 0-for-8 in the series. The boo birds came out.