10:50 am Oct. 16, 2012
The New York Yankees have gone to Detroit to meet their doom.
The Yankees trail the Tigers in the American League Championship Series, 2-0. Games 3-5 are scheduled to be played in Detroit. That is bad enough.
But the Yankees, who are suffering a slump of incomprehensible proportions, will face Justin Verlander in Game 3. That would be reigning Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Justin Verlander, who struck out 14 Yankees back in August when the Yankees last faced him.
A loss to Verlander and the Tigers would place the Yankees in a 3-0 hole. Only one team, the 2004 Boston Red Sox, has ever rallied from such a deficit to win a seven-game series in baseball history.
But the Yankees at least have some positive history against the Tiger ace.
Verlander allowed the opposition an O.P.S. of just .601 in 2012. But the Yankees, in three starts this season, have a robust .859 O.P.S. against Verlander, better than their season O.P.S. of .790.
Overall, active Yankees who will face him Tuesday night have a collective O.P.S. of .692 in their careers against Verlander, still better than what the league has done against him this year. Brett Gardner, Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez and Eduardo Nunez (in three plate appearances) have an O.P.S. above 1.000 against Verlander, with Eric Chavez checking in at .920, Curtis Granderson at .854.
To put that in perspective, just 18 active hitters in baseball have an O.P.S. of greater than 1.000 against Verlander with at least 15 plate appearances against them. The Yankees employ three of them.
And while Verlander struck out 14 Yankees over eight innings in an August win, the Yankees beat up on him in two other starts, scoring five runs against him in both an April no-decision and a June loss. Alex Rodriguez, incidentally, had home runs against Verlander in both games.
So the task will be far from easy. But a win over Verlander Tuesday, and the Yankees will pitch CC Sabathia Wednesday for a chance to even the series, 2-2. Their outlook could be very different in just a few hours.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Amar'e Stoudemire vows he will play Friday.
Jeremy Lin wanted to retire a Knick.
In their preseason debut at the Barclays Center, the Nets beat the Wizards, 98-88.
The U.S. men's national team can advance to the finals of World Cup qualifying with a win or draw over Guatemala Tuesday night.