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Justin Verlander was not at his sharpest on Tuesday night, which makes Detroit's win all the more regrettable for Yankees fans.
Justin Verlander allowed one run over 8⅓ innings pitched in Game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday night, but it could be argued that he wasn't even at his sharpest. That is the view of Andrew Mearns of SB Nation's New York Yankees blog, Pinstriped Bible, who believes that the Yankees left an opportunity for a win against the Tigers ace on the table.
The Yankees should still have shown more life against an off-his-game Verlander. Instead, fans saw more of the same from the Yankees offense as has been on display for most of the postseason. Fast innings, soft grounders, 1-2-3s, and even a bad break. Brett Gardner scalded a Verlander pitch in the sixth, but it went right back to him on a line. Verlander dropped it, then fired to first for the out.
Mearns also believes that home plate umpire Sam Holbrook had a poor game behind the plate, and he has the strike zone plot from the game to prove it. Mearns cites several examples of at-bats that turned on erroneous strike calls by Holbrook, most notably Curtis Granderson's at-bat in the sixth and Raul Ibanez' at-bat in the seventh.
Curiously, though, Mearns makes no mention of Joe Girardi's controversial decision to let Ibanez face Phil Coke on the game's final at-bat, which itself may prove the lack of confidence that even Yankees fans have in Alex Rodriguez.