When Justin Verlander exited with one out in the ninth inning and the Detroit Tigers holding on to a one-run lead against the New York Yankees on Tuesday night, manager Jim Leyland called on Phil Coke to close out the game.
That's something SB Nation's Bless You Boys would never have guessed during the regular season.
So, naturally, after Tigers closer Jose Valverde blew a two-run lead in Game 4 of the ALDS and a four-run lead in Game 1 of the ALCS, the manager surveyed his bullpen looking for just the right pitcher to get the job done, and his eyes settle on ...
Not the setup man, Joaquin Benoit. Not the veteran, Octavio Dotel. Not the flamethrowing righty, Al Alburquerque. Not the rookie, Drew Smyly, who'd picked up a postseason win the day before.
But Phil Coke. Who else?
Coke got the job done again Tuesday. He didn't "blow the doors off," as Bless You Boys said, as Coke allowed back-to-back hits and put the winning run on first base. But with two outs and a 3-2 count against Yankees post-season hero Raul Ibanez, Coke threw a knee-high slider that got Ibanez striking out to end the game in favor of Detroit, 2-1.
Detroit has a 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series. The Tigers will try to stamp their ticket to the World Series when the teams face off Wednesday at 8:07 p.m.
CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees. Detroit sends out Max Scherzer.