Tigers 2, Yankees 1: It’s kinda crazy that the following two things are both true: (a) Justin Verlander didn’t have his best stuff; and (b) Justin Verlander took a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning. That’s every bit the testament to the Yankees’ offensive futility as it is to Verlander’s greatness, of course.
The big question: why didn’t Joe Girardi pinch hit someone — be it Nick Swisher or A-Rod — for Raul Iabanez against Phil Coke in the ninth inning with the Yankees threatening? I understand that if A-Rod comes in that Leyland brings in a righty. And I understand that both he and the switch-hitting Swisher are in funks so bad that Bootsy Collins looks at them and says “damn.” But Raul Ibanez against a lefty killer is a pretty awful matchup no matter how you slice it. Matthew broke this all down last night. Definitely a head scratcher.
It makes me feel like Girardi was proving a point just as much as he was managing to win last night.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.