Justin Verlander strikes out 14 New York Yankees

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Justin Verlander strikes out 14 New York Yankees

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Justin Verlander raised his left arm to acknowledge a roaring, standing ovation. It was his right arm, though, that gave the New York Yankees so much trouble. Verlander matched a career high with 14 strikeouts and got home-run support from Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, leading the Detroit Tigers over New York 7-2 Monday night. "Felt pretty good," Verlander said. He looked good, too. Verlander (12-7) threw 132 pitches, his most in a regular-season game, to lift the Tigers to a fifth straight win. Before this opener of a four-game series, manager Jim Leyland said the Tigers needed a big effort from Verlander. "Hopefully your ace is an ace," Leyland said. Verlander was, putting together one of his best performances of the season. He started strong and didn't let up. The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young award winner struck out former teammate Curtis Granderson -- for the first of three times -- with an 85 mph breaking pitch to lead off the game and struck out the first two Yankees in the second inning. Verlander also fanned Ichiro Suzuki and Mark Teixeira three times each. Verlander gave up two unearned runs after his fielding error extended the fifth inning. Leyland visited Verlander at the mound in the eighth after he gave up a walk to Raul Ibanez, and left him in the game following a brief chat about how he felt following Derek Jeter's comebacker off his left leg the previous inning. Verlander said he told Leyland his left calf was OK. "He said, Then let's get this last batter and we'll see what happens,'" Verlander recalled Leyland saying. With many of the 41,381 fans on their feet, Verlander responded by striking out Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez and Suzuki to tie his strikeout high set last year against Arizona. "In the eighth inning, he still had a 100 mph fastball," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "The rest of his pitches are great, too." Suzuki snapped his 12-game hitting streak with the Yankees. He also struck out for the first time with his new team and finished with three to match a career high. Verlander hit low and outside corners with fastballs and buckled knees with an assortment of breaking pitches that left the Yankees standing and looking or swinging and missing. "Did you see some of those pitches?" Detroit catcher Alex Avila asked. "That last curveball, I don't think anybody could've hit it. I had enough trouble catching it." When New York did make contact for base hits, Verlander was at his best. "He shut us down," Yankees star Derek Jeter said. "A lot of time great pitchers get a little attitude when they have guys on base and they bear down. He did that." After Verlander's night was over -- one pitch shy of the career-high 133 he threw in Game 5 of the AL championship series last year against Texas -- closer Jose Valverde retired the side in order in the ninth. Detroit, which is chasing Chicago in the AL Central, has won 19 of its last 23 home games. The AL East-leading Yankees have lost 11 of 17 overall. Ivan Nova (10-6) was roughed up for seven runs and 11 hits -- matching a career high -- in 5 1-3 innings. Nova is 1-4 over his last eight starts since June 28. "Every pitcher goes through it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You're going to go through struggles. For the most part, the kid has been pretty good for us but right now, he's struggling. He'll find his way out. Verlander, as good as he is, goes through struggles. He's not 20-0 this year." Nova said he still has confidence in his stuff. "I've got to keep my head up and keep working," he said. "It's just location. I left too many pitches over the plate." Cabrera sent a thigh-high pitch over the middle of the plate 454 feet, clearing the second row of shrubs in center field, for his 28th homer in the fourth inning. Fielder cleared the fences for the 19th time with a no-doubt shot to right in the second. The Tigers broke it open with three runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth to go ahead 7-2. Verlander allowed the Yankees to score twice in the fifth when Granderson hit a two-out grounder and the pitcher glanced down to step on first base as Fielder made an accurate throw that hit his glove. Jeter and Robinson Cano took advantage with RBI singles that made it 2-all. "I need to be able to make that play," Verlander said. He made up for that miscue -- easily. NOTES: Verlander is the first Tigers pitcher since Jim Bunning (June 10, 1958) to strike out 14 Yankees in a game. ... The Yankees have decided Triple-A LHP Manny Banuelos, out since May with a bruised left elbow, won't pitch again this season. ... Verlander had lost his last two starts, giving up nine runs over 12 innings. ... Nova has given up 11 hits twice this year to Detroit and three times in his career. ... Jeter had two hits, his 43rd multihit game of the year after having more than one hit in 45 last year.

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Morning tip: Bradley Beal laments Wizarrds losing so many games in crunch time

Morning tip: Bradley Beal laments Wizarrds losing so many games in crunch time

It's easy to point to the disparity in foul shots or foul calls after a loss, but the Wizards did everything possible to win at the San Antonio Spurs for the first time in 17 years. 

They just didn't. They had plenty of blunders at the end of quarters to keep the Spurs in the picture. 

"We didn't even play a great game," said Bradley Beal, who had a team-high 23 points on 11 shots in limited minutes of a 107-105 loss. "We get tired of saying we played hard, we did enough to win the game. We didn’t win the game."

The Wizards (6-12) had an 11-point lead and had a 43-37 rebounding edge. But they took 15 fewer foul shots (18) than the Spurs, who benefitted from getting nine more fouls called (26) in their favor.

Beal shot six free throws, but his backcourt mate John Wall didn't attempt any despite 37 minutes of attacking the basket rather than settling for jumpers. 

The NBA office determined in its last two-minue report, made public when games are within five points or less in the final two minutes and overtime, there weren't any incorrect or missed calls in the game. 

Beal didn't get to take the last shot. It was called for him, but instead the broken play on the inbounds ended up in the hands of Otto Porter as he had a good look at the rim in the lane that could've forced overtime. 

After just 18 games, Beal sounds a lot like he did towards the end of a 41-41 season in 2015-16. They had Wednesday's game at the Oklahoma City Thunder won, but allowed that to go into overtime in what became a loss for the Wizards, too. 

"We know what to do. We’re just not doing it," he said. "Until we do, we’re going to keep losing."

College Football Playoff projections: Let's not overthink this

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College Football Playoff projections: Let's not overthink this

Did Penn State play their way into the playoff? Michigan has to be in, right? Did Ohio State fall out of top four? Will Washington hang on?

Following all the action on Saturday, there was plenty of debate over who the top four teams should be. Most of the questions surround what to do with the three Big Ten teams contenders.

Ohio State and Michigan are clearly two of the best teams in the country, but neither of them won their division. That honor went to Penn State who also won the conference championship on Saturday, the same Penn State team who beat Ohio State but who also lost twice this season.

For the first time since the College Football Playoff started, there is a real, genuine debate over who the top four will be.

But not really.

SEE THE FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTION HERE

If you're just asking who the committee will put into the playoff, the committee actually tipped its hand last week with its rankings:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Washington
  5. Michigan
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Penn State

For everyone saying Michigan should be in the top four, well, they weren't in the top four last week, they didn't play this week, none of the four teams ahead of them did anything to hurt their respective resumes, so what makes anyone out there think the Wolverines are suddenly going to vault into the top four? It's not going to happen.

If Penn State were to make the playoff, it wouldn't be over Washington or Clemson who were already ranked ahead of the Nittany Lions and also won their respective conferences on Saturday. Neither team did anything to hurt themselves, so Penn State won't vault over them. Could they jump Ohio State who they beat head-to-head? That seems doubtful considering the committee declared the Buckeyes the second-best team in the country on Tuesday. That tells me the committee sees them as "unequivocally" one the top teams.

So debate away. When it comes to college football, that's what makes it so fun. But really, there's not that much to debate about. The committee showed last week who they thought the four best teams were and there's no reason to think that will change based on what we saw Saturday.

Find out who will make this year's playoff here with the final College Football Playoff projections.