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ALCS Game 3 Preview

There was no shortage of late-inning thrills in game one and no shortage of controversy in game two, but here we are, ready for game three with Detroit holding a 2-0 lead over the postseason favorite, the New York Yankees. After dropping two games at home, the Yankees find themselves with their backs against the wall for the first time this postseason. New York must find a way to win on the road, but we all know that’s something they are certainly capable of doing. Here’s what to expect tonight as the Yankees and Tigers do battle in game three of the ALCS.

Verlander will look to continue to dominate and confuse Yankee hitters in game three

The Yankees will have their hands full tonight against former Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander, who has been brilliant in the postseason so far and really has been phenomenal all season long. Verlander is coming off complete game shutout win against Oakland in game five of the ALDS, a performance which earned him and his Tigers a trip to the Championship round. The pitching staff as a whole has carried Detroit through this postseason so far and in the current series with New York, as Tiger pitchers have only surrendered four runs to the Yankees in 21 innings of work.

“I think pitching, much like hitting, is contagious,” Verlander said via ESPN.com. “Guys go out there night in and night out and see guys have a good game, and the next day he wants to have a good game, so on and so forth. And I think that’s what we are feeding on right now.”

Yankee hitters are feeling contagious too, but in a bad way, like in a more terrible, incurable disease way. Yankee sluggers Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson have been hitting little more than air in the postseason, going 12 for 107 combined for a pathetic .112 average.

“We can’t score seven runs, eight runs in one at-bat,” said Yankee first-baseman Mark Teixeria. “It’s momentum. When things are going bad, they can be really bad, but when things are going good, we’re capable of putting up a whole bunch of runs.”

Can Hughes outduel Verlander?

The Yankees also know they are capable of scoring runs off Verlander. In three meetings with the Tigers ace this season, the Yankees won two, including a June 3rd game that saw Phil Hughes, who will start game three for New York, win against Verlander, pitching a complete game.

“Obviously Verlander is a great pitcher, but he is human and we know we can score off him,” Hughes said. “I just have to do a better job than he does. It’s going to be a challenge, but, like I said, I’m looking forward to it.”

The Yankees will want to get Verlander out of the game as early as they can to get to the Detroit bullpen, which has been the weak point for the Tigers in the series so far. All four runs in game one were allowed by closer Jose Valverde.

The matchup obviously favors the Tigers today. With home field advantage and arguably the best pitcher in baseball throwing for them, they are a clear favorite to take a 3-0 series lead. However, the Yankees are still the Yankees and if they can get out of their hitting slump, they could easily win today. But I would play it safe and bet for Detroit today. Until the Yankees’ bats show some life, stick with the hot arms of the Tiger rotation in this one.

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