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Tigers 3, Yankes 0

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The unfamiliar feeling of the New York Yankees playing a postseason game without Derek Jeter was trumped only by their all-too-familiar inability to score runs Sunday.

The Tigers watched starter Anibal Sanchez become the latest pitcher to handcuff the once-powerful New York lineup, and Detroit squeezed out just enough to beat a masterful Hiroki Kuroda 3-0 at Yankee Stadium.

The victory in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series gives the Tigers a commanding 2-0 lead along with the comfort of knowing ace Justin Verlander will be ready to go in Game 3 in Detroit on Tuesday.

Sanchez (1-1) was brilliant in limiting the punch-less Yankees to three hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and allowed a runner to reach scoring position in only three innings.

The Tigers were helped by a blown call that extended the eighth inning and allowed Detroit to tack on two runs, eventually leading to the ejection of Yankees manager Joe Girardi and, likely, more debate on the merits of instant replay.

The Yankees, playing without the injured Jeter in the playoffs for the first time since 1995, were left reeling by another impotent offensive effort. Jeter broke his left ankle Saturday in Game 1.

The team that set a franchise record for home runs this season again extended several woeful numbers, with second baseman Robinson Cano setting a major league postseason record for futility. Cano went 0-for-4 to make him hitless in 26 consecutive at-bats, the first player to go hitless that long in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

That was a far cry from Cano's nine straight multi-hit games to end the regular season when he went 24-for-39 (.615). He's just 2-for-32 (.063) in the postseason overall this year.

The second baseman also bobbled an exchange on a potential inning-ending double play as Quintin Berry came home to score the Tigers' first run against Kuroda in the seventh, after the righty threw five perfect innings to start the game.

However, as evidenced by replays, Cano did nothing wrong on the eighth-inning play that eventually allowed the Tigers to add two runs. With two outs, Austin Jackson followed Omar Infante's single with one of his own, but Infante was caught off second. Right fielder Nick Swisher fired the ball to Cano, who clearly tagged Infante on the chest before the runner returned to the base.

Second base umpire Jeff Nelson called Infante safe.

Kuroda, who had pitched 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball at that point, allowing five hits and striking out 11 without walking a batter, exited to a standing ovation.

Boone Logan then gave up a bloop single to pinch hitter Avisail Garcia to make it 2-0.

Girardi then made a pitching change, calling on Joba Chamberlain to face Miguel Cabrera, and the manager took a detour to argue with Nelson at second. The discussion did not seem particularly animated, but the umpire quickly ejected the Yankees manager, who has faced an emotional week that included the death of his father, Jerry.

Chamberlain gave up another RBI single to Cabrera as the Tigers took a 3-0 lead.

Kuroda (0-1) far exceeded the Yankees' expectations, as he pitched on short rest for the first time in his major league career. His strong start was helped by Cano's fine backhanded play on Andy Dirks' grounder up the middle to end the fifth.

Still, the Yankees' offense remained unable to produce, as Sanchez escaped his few threats easily.

After a two-out double by Mark Teixeira in the first, Sanchez got Russell Martin on a comebacker. An error and a two-out intentional walk to Raul Ibanez gave Martin another chance in the sixth, but the New York catcher grounded to short.

Sanchez struck out Jayson Nix, the fill-in for Jeter, with a runner on second to end the seventh.

Yankees fans chanted for Jeter at the end of their traditional roll call, but the shortstop who fractured his left ankle diving for a ball Saturday night was not in the building. The Yankees announced a CT scan and an MRI confirmed the fracture, adding that the team captain would see a foot and ankle specialist in the next few days.

Phil Coke earned the save with two scoreless innings, though Alex Rodriguez avoided further infamy by hitting a two-out single in the ninth.

Fellow struggling slugger Curtis Granderson struck out for the third time on the day, ending the game.

NOTES: Girardi said he started Nix instead of Eduardo Nunez at shortstop because he liked how Nix was swinging the bat. Nix is also considered a better defensive player. Girardi said he would decide day by day which one he would play. ... Struggling Tigers reliever Jose Valverde was taken out of the ninth-inning role for the day, manager Jim Leyland said. However, Leyland insisted Valverde was still his closer, though he said the right-hander appeared to lose his confidence and needed to work on some things mechanically before getting another save opportunity.
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