For once this season, expecting the unexpected didn’t quite work out.
On paper, the New York Yankees’ struggling offence didn’t stand a chance against Justin Verlander in Game Three of the ALCS. The Tigers were a certainty to win, you could bet your house on it.
This, of course, meant that the Tigers winning was exactly what was not going to happen. Logic flew out of the window a long time ago this MLB season and that should have given the Yankees hope that the odds would be made a mockery of once more.
It would have also made Tigers fans nervous when Phil Coke relieved Verlander during the bottom of the ninth inning and subsequently allowed two baserunners with Detroit holding a slender 2-1 lead. The next chapter in this crazy season was about to be written: the Yankees were going to get back into the series by winning a game that Justin Verlander had started.
But then, all of a sudden, logic returned with a vengeance.
New York had their chance in Game One when they rallied for four runs off Jose Valverde in the bottom of the ninth to take that game into extra innings. They had dealt their opponent a devastating blow but were not able to land the knockout shot and the Tigers recovered to win the game 6-4. Joe Girardi’s team deserve credit for the fight back; however they let a great chance slip by once they had done all the hard work and they may not get another.
Girardi tried to kickstart his offence in Game Three by drafting in Brett Gardener, who has been out injured for the vast majority of the season, and leaving both Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher on the bench. It didn’t work and now they find themselves in a deep hole.
CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees in Game Four (a 2 a.m. start on Thursday morning U.K. time) and a combination of their ace lefty and personal pride gives them a good chance of avoiding the 4-0 series sweep. Recovering all the way from an 0-3 deficit, with an offence in turmoil, seems beyond them.
Could the Yankees suddenly find some form out of nowhere and reel off four straight wins, the final one coming against Verlander in a Game Seven? Probably not, although maybe the rule of expecting the unexpected might come back into play at least one more time this season.