Justin Verlander just keeps cruising. Through eight frames, he's given up only two hits, both of them line-drive singles off the bat of Ichiro Suzuki. In the top of the eighth, Verlander retired Russell Martin on a hard-hit grounder to third base, Eric Chavez on a fly to center field, and Curtis Granderson on a fly to short left field.
In the ninth, the Yankees will send Eduardo Nunez -- or perhaps a pinch hitter; Nick Swisher or Alex Rodriguez, anyone? -- to the plate, followed by and Ichiro. Verlander's thrown 115 pitches, but would Jim Leyland really tempt fate by going to his bullpen? Nine times this season, he threw at least 120 pitches, maxing out at 132. It seems highly likely that Verlander will start the ninth, but with someone warming in the bullpen just in case he gets in a spot of trouble.
Meanwhile, Jhonny Peralta led off the bottom of the eighth with a line drive to left field, but Brett Outfielder made a fantastic play in Comerica Park's rain-soaked left field. After Boone Logan -- who wound up pitching two innings of shutout ball in a great bit of clutch relief -- retired Alex Avila on an easy play for Gardner. Joe Girardi, still managing, brought in Joba Chamberlain to face Omar Infante, who lifted a routine fly to center to end the eighth.
So here we go to the ninth, with Verlander looking to put the Yankees in a hole from which very, very, very few teams have ever escaped.