Justin Verlander only struck out three batters Tuesday night during Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. The Detroit Tigers pitcher had been dominating batters this postseason with his fastball and changeup, but instead saw his defense help him out in a night where he fell behind the count in many matchups.
The reigning Cy Young and MVP Verlander has been dominant at keeping New York Yankees players from getting on base and scoring. Verlander pitched 23 consecutive scoreless innings in the Playoffs before giving up a home run in the ninth inning Tuesday night. Verlander also helped the Tigers set a new MLB record for consecutive scoreless innings without allowing an earned run. The Tigers passed the record in the first inning Tuesday before ending the mark with a total of 37 and two thirds innings without an earned run.
Ichiro Suzuki was the batter Verlander wasn’t able to get on Tuesday night. Verlander retired the first ten batters in Game 4, before Suzuki reached base and ended Verlander’s no-hitter chances. After Suzuki’s hit, Verlander would retire the next eight Yankees batters before once again giving up a hit to Suzuki.
Verlander threw a total of 132 pitches in Game 4, making it three straight games of more than 120 pitches thrown by the Tigers ace. Verlander was still throwing a 99 mile per hour fastball in the ninth inning and looked like he would be able to pitch a complete game.
Verlander was pulled from the game in the ninth inning by manager Jim Leyland. After giving up a solo home run to Eduardo Nunez, Leyland visited the mound. Leyland left Verlander in for one more batter, Brettt Gardner, who Verlander would retire and leave to a standing ovation at Comerica Park.
After Verlander’s 8.1 inning outing, it was Phil Coke who came in and got the two remaining outs to put the Tigers one win away from returning to the World Series. The Tigers have four games left to get the remaining win they need. If they can not get a victory in the next three games, Tigers fans will see Verlander take the mound in Game 7.
Verlander continues to be dominant in the Playoffs for the Tigers. In three postseason games, Verlander has pitched 24.1 innings and only given up two earned runs. Verlander has thrown 25 strikeouts over that span, and only given up 10 hits in this postseason. Verlander is now 3-0 in the 2012 postseason and brings his career Playoffs record up to 6-3.