Justin Verlander cruises, Tigers top Yanks in ALCS Game 3

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The Tigers are one win away from the World Series.

Justin Verlander allowed just one run over 8 1/3 innings and Delmon Young homered as the Tigers rolled to a 2-1 defeat of the Yankees on Tuesday at Comerica Park, pushing their ALCS lead to 3-0.

Verlander finished with only three strikeouts, but he issued no walks and surrendered just three hits while hitting 99 mph with ease near the back end of his 132-pitch count. Only Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez managed to reach base against him. Nunez hit a solo shot in the ninth. Ichiro tallied two singles.

Verlander has struggled in past postseasons (2006 and 2011), but he’s quickly making that a distant memory this October. The 29-year-old right-hander boasts a sparkling 0.74 ERA, a 0.62 WHIP and 25 strikeouts through 24 1/3 innings (three starts) in these playoffs. He has walked just five batters.

The Yankees will try to get in the win column in this best-of-seven series on Wednesday night when ace left-hander CC Sabathia squares off against Max Scherzer in Game 4. The Tigers will be seeking the sweep.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.

The Rays gave Seth Smith a little league homer last night

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:

Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.

Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.

Watch:

 

I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.

Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.