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10/15/2012 1:50 AM EDT
Sanchez, Tigers beat Yanks for 2-0 lead in ALCS
DETROIT 3, NY YANKEES 0

By HOWIE RUMBERG
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers got a big boost from Anibal
Sanchez's arm. They got a helping hand from an umpire, too.



The reward: a commanding 2-0 lead in the AL championship series,
and a trip home with their ace ready to start.



Sanchez shut down a Yankees lineup minus injured Derek Jeter,
Detroit scored twice after an admitted missed call by an ump and
won without any extra-inning drama, beating New York 3-0 Sunday.



"He was terrific," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "This is a
tough place to pitch with a tough lineup and a short porch. And
a whole bunch of left-handed hitters, it is not easy. That was
quite a feat."



New York starter Hiroki Kuroda pitched perfect ball into the
sixth inning to keep pace with Sanchez. But Robinson Cano and
the slumping Yankees hitters were no match for the 28-year-old
right-hander a day after their captain broke his ankle in the
12th inning of a 6-4 loss.



"I try to think backwards," Sanchez said. "If the count calls
for a fastball, I throw a different pitch. If the count calls
for a different pitch, I throw a fastball. I try to mix my
speeds."



To get out of a jam in the first inning, he thought backward,
all right: try reaching around his back to snare a grounder for
the final out.



Making his second postseason start, Sanchez threw three-hit ball
deep into the game to make Leyland's job easier. Closer Jose
Valverde gave up four runs in the ninth Saturday and, only hours
later, Leyland said the righty wouldn't close Game 2.



Delmon Young gave Sanchez his first run of support in these
playoffs with a fielder's choice in the seventh. The Tigers then
scored twice in the eighth after second base umpire Jeff Nelson
missed a call on a two-out tag at second base. Yankees manager
Joe Girardi argued, and was ejected on his 48th birthday.



"The hand did not get in before the tag," Nelson said after
seeing a replay. "The call was incorrect."



Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Detroit,
with reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander starting for the Tigers
against Phil Hughes. Verlander went 2-0 in the division series
versus Oakland, including a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts
in the decisive Game 5.



The Tigers led 1-0 in the eighth and had Omar Infante on first
with two outs. Austin Jackson singled and when Infante took a
wide turn at second, right fielder Nick Swisher threw behind
him.



Cano made a swipe tag as Infante made a head-first dive back to
second. Cano missed Infante's arm but brushed his body, replays
clearly showed. But Nelson called Infante safe.



"I think the umpire got confused `cause he saw my hand,
something with my hand made him think I was safe," Infante said.



Was he out?



"Of course," Infante said.



Cano and Girardi pleaded the call to no avail. Boone Logan
replaced Kuroda and gave up an RBI single to pinch hitter
Avisail Garcia to make it 2-0.



"It's frustrating. I don't have a problem with Jeff's effort, I
don't, because he hustled to get to the play. But in this day
and age when we have instant replay available to us, it's got to
change," Girardi said.



"These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure. It is a
tough call for him because the tag is underneath and it's hard
for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset
than you get the call right. Too much is at stake," he said.



Girardi returned to lift Logan for Joba Chamberlain, and then he
remained on the field to resume the argument. Red-faced with
neck muscles bulging, Girardi could be seen shouting at Nelson,
"You were right there. How could you miss it?" He was tossed by
Nelson for his first postseason ejection.



Miguel Cabrera added a run-scoring single after the ejection.



Cano had no luck at the plate, either. The All-Star's slump
extended to a record 26 hitless at-bats in a single postseason,
breaking the mark of 24 set by Baltimore's Bobby Bonilla in
1996, STATS LLC said.



"I feel good at the plate," Cano said. "So, all I can do is stay
positive and play good Tuesday."



There were many empty seats near the foul poles, and a subdued
crowd spent much of the day venting its frustration, booing the
punchless Yankees. The 47,082 in attendance reserved its biggest
cheers early for Jeter, who broke his ankle in the last inning
of the Game 1 loss.



"I don't know what's going on here, it seems like something is
going on here," Tigers reliever Octavio Dotel said. "I mean, I
don't want to wake them, I don't want them to get loud. I don't
know what's going on but I like it."



The "Bleacher Creatures" included the captain in their roll call
and fans let out a modest cheer pregame when Jeter was shown in
video thanking fans on the scoreboard.



While the Yankees are headed to Detroit for what they hope will
be three games, their captain will fly to Charlotte, N.C., to
visit a foot specialist.



Jhonny Peralta singled in the sixth for the Tigers' first
baserunner against Kuroda, who was pitching on short rest for
the first time in his big league career. Delmon Young then gave
Detroit the lead with a forceout grounder in the seventh, a
night after putting the Tigers ahead in the 12th inning with a
double.



Sanchez has had quite the success in the Bronx. He made his big
league debut at the old Yankee Stadium when it was across the
street, and pitched 5 2-3 shutout innings for Marlins in 2006.
The only player to notch two hits against him in that game was
Jeter.



Pitching for the first time in this 4-year-old ballpark - and in
front of his parents - Sanchez limited the slumping Yankees to
just three hits and three walks, one an intentional pass to Raul
Ibanez.



When Ichiro Suzuki reached on Sanchez's fielding error to open
the sixth and advanced to third with two outs, Peralta was there
to bail out his pitcher with another nifty play, bare-handing a
slow grounder for the third out.



Leyland took Valverde out of consideration for the closer role
on Sunday. Valverde gave up a pair of two-run homers in the
ninth inning Saturday night and also blew a save in the division
series.



Former Yankees reliever Phil Coke pitched two innings for the
save.



"Jose Valverde will be an important part of this club in this
playoff or we are going to have a real tough time," Leyland
said. "I just hope that the people back home are, like I said,
not too short-minded because this guy has been fantastic, and is
an important piece in the scenario, in my opinion."



Kuroda did all he could to help keep it close for the Yankees'
anemic offense.



Curtis Granderson went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and a walk
and Alex Rodriguez singled in the ninth for his third hit of the
postseason and finished 1 for 4. A-Rod is 0 for 18 with 12 Ks
against right-handed pitchers in these playoffs. When he lined
out to left field in the seventh fans gave a mock cheer.



"We've been through stretches like this all year," Rodriguez
said. "It's been a very volatile stock market for us this year."



NOTES: Cabrera reached base in all 18 playoff games with
Detroit, matching Hank Greenberg for the longest streak in team
history.

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