Thanks to the Yankees' bullpen and Eduardo Nunez's ninth-inning home run, the Yanks were able to put a real scare into the Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. But with two Yankees aboard in the top of the ninth inning, lefty reliever Phil Coke struck out Raúl Ibañez to seal the Tigers' 2-1 victory, and push the Yankees to the brink of elimination.
With Verlander working on a two-hit shutout, Nuñez led off with a line-drive home run after a long battle. Verlander then retired Brett Gardner, but he'd thrown 132 pitches and manager Jim Leyland decided that was enough.
With closer Jose Valverde struggling terribly this month, Leyland instead summoned Coke from the bullpen. He got Ichiro Suzuki on a grounder, but Mark Teixeira singled and Robinson Cano -- busting an 0-for-29 slump -- did the same.
Which brought up Ibañez, who'd already done so many dramatic things lately. Coke started Ibañez off with two outside fastballs, which Ibañez took for balls. But then they started really battling, and it ended when Coke struck out Ibañez with a big slider.
The Tigers now own a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series, and the Yankees will try to something that's been done only once in major-league history.