With the ALDS tied at one game apiece, it is a best of three series (with Detroit holding home field advantage) to determine who advances to the League Championship Series. Taking into account the first two games, here are three keys to the rest of the series:
1. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira
Robinson Cano is getting a dose of the Barry Bonds Treatment because A-Rod and Teixeira are non-existent. Cano is the Yankees most dangerous hitter and the player I wanted up in yesterday’s ninth inning, but if A-Rod and Teixeira (or even one of them) were hitting, Cano would see pitches to hit. Alex is 0-for-8 with one walk in the series, and has hit nothing hard. Teixeira is equally as lost; he’s just 1-for-7 and continues to pop everything up batting from the left side. Teixeira will have to figure it out batting left because virtually all of Detroit’s pitching staff is right handed, and they would be fools to turn Teixeira around to the right side. (His OPS is 188 points lower from the left side than from the right this season.)
It would be easy to say move A-Rod and Teixeira out of the 4-5 spots in the lineup, but the reality is there is nobody else. They have to step up.
2. The Aces
Do you feel comfortable with AJ Burnett on the mound in a potential must-win Game 4? I don’t. Sabathia will have to shut down the Tigers’ lineup tonight in order to win because the Yankees are facing the best pitcher in Baseball this season. There is hope though…
If there was one team Verlander struggled against this season, it was New York. Even though his ERA was not terrible (4.50), the rest of his numbers were. Verlander walked 8 batters in 12 innings pitched against the Yankees this season. His next highest total-against is 7 versus the White Sox, but that came in 43.1 innings. The Yankees continued this approach in the one inning Verlander pitched Friday. Despite not recording a hit, the Yankees scored a run with the benefit of two walks, while forcing Verlander to throw a lot of pitches. That will be the game plan again tonight.
Another aspect of tonight’s game that may favor Sabathia and the Yankees is three days’ rest. Verlander has NEVER pitched on three days’ rest in his career; CC has made his name doing so. I have no doubt that Sabathia argued to pitch Sunday in Game 2, so he should be ready and rested for Game 3.
3. Don’t pitch to Miguel Cabrera
Take a look at what the Tigers are doing to Robinson Cano and do the same for Miguel Cabrera. Detroit has a solid lineup (and a great top six), but Cabrera should not see anything to hit. Force a hobbling Victor Martinez and Alex Avila to beat you, much like the Tigers are doing with A-Rod and Teixeira.
NYYUniverse.com Staff Writer
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