After the Pittsburgh Pirates won a game, broadcaster Lanny Frattare closed the game by telling listeners “…and there was no doubt about it,” which was similar to Bob Prince’s “We had em all the way.”
In a few days, John Sterling will tell New York Yankees fans that “Thuuh Yankees win. Ball game over, series over. THUUUH Yankees W-I-I-I-N.”
The Detroit Tigers outhit the Yankees, .277 to .263, but as Bill James discovered, batting average is a highly overrated statistic. The Tigers scored 787 runs to the Yankees 867 runs. Scoring runs trumps batting average.
The Yankees have better pitching than Detroit despite the naysayer’s claims to the contrary. The Yankees 3.73 ERA must be credited to a great degree to C.C. Sabathia, David Robertson, Luis Ayala and of course, the great Mariano.
Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild know how to handle pitchers. While Sabathia and Ivan Nova usually go deep into games, one can ount on Girardi and Rothschild to pull Freddie Garcia at the right time if he starts to struggle. The bullpen will win it for the Yankees.
The key game is not Justin Verlander against Sabathia. It will be the second game that pits Nova against Doug Fister. Without Fister, the Tigers would have no chance. This is not 2006.
With the Tigers, Fister has been 8-1 with a Sandy Koufax like 229 ERA+. He has won his last seven decisions while allowing no more than one run in his last eight starts.
Fister and Verlander have been 14-0 with a 1.61 ERA from Aug. 16 to the end of the season.
If the Yankees can get to Detroit after getting at least a split of the two games at home, they will face Max Scherzer, who was 15-9 but with a 92 ERA+. Forget the fact that he beat the Yankees twice during the season. The playoffs are not the regular season.
Jim Leland has said that he will not start Verlander on three days rest, which means that Rick Porcello will probably be the starting pitcher in what should be the last game of the series, but a disclaimer is necessary if A.J. Burnett faces him.
The 2011 Yankees find ways to win. They are a team that can score enough runs to overcome sub-par pitching from their starters thanks to the bullpen.
The final day of the season graphically illustrated that only a fool would attempt to predict a baseball game. Bigger fools try to predict playoff winners.