After a long, wet weekend in the Bronx, the Detroit Tigers left with a split and home-field advantage in what has become a best-of-three affair in their AL division series against the New York Yankees.
A rematch of aces will help decide which club will have the edge after the pivotal Game 3.
That game was suspended after 1 1/2 innings due to rain Friday, forcing fans to wait for the much-anticipated duel between Verlander and Sabathia - the winningest pitchers in the AL this season.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” said Sabathia, who went 19-8 this season. “It looked like it was going to be a good game.”
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The Yankees extended their division series winning streak to seven with a 9-3 victory in the conclusion of Game 1 on Saturday, but the Tigers held off New York’s ninth-inning rally for a 5-3 victory Sunday. That contest came on what would have been the travel day to Detroit for Games 3 and 4.
“We feel good,” AL batting champ Miguel Cabrera(notes) told the Tigers’ official website after going 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs. “We were looking to win one game over here and win the other ones at home.”
Detroit took three of four at home against New York from May 2-5 and is 27-22 versus the Yankees at Comerica Park.
“It’s huge. Tomorrow’s a really big game,” said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira(notes), 1 for 7 in the series and a career .221 hitter in Detroit. “You don’t want to go down 2-1 with them having a chance to close it out at their home park.”
Verlander led the major leagues with 24 wins and 250 strikeouts while topping the AL with a 2.40 ERA. The probable Cy Young Award winner went 10-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 16 home starts in 2011.
The right-hander walked two and yielded one run during his 25-pitch outing Friday.
“Hopefully, I’m able to keep it like my routine, I guess,” he said. “Kind of treat that as a pretty intense bullpen session and go about my business as normal.
“You know it’s going to be electric tomorrow. The fans in Detroit have been waiting anxiously for this day since 2006 (when the Tigers last appeared in the playoffs). Hopefully we don’t disappoint them and hopefully we have a lot more home games.”
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Verlander has gone 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 10 career starts versus New York. The Tigers have lost his last three outings against the Yankees - two this season.
Detroit defeated New York in Games 3 and 4 at Comerica in the ’06 ALDS after splitting two games in the Bronx. The Tigers have won 16 of their last 20 home games.
For the Yankees to avoid a repeat of five years ago, they may need to get more out of Rodriguez, who is hitless in eight at-bats in the series but is expected to stay in the cleanup spot behind Robinson Cano(notes).
While Verlander has had mixed results against New York, Sabathia has struggled recently in Detroit, going 0-4 with a 7.56 ERA in his last four starts there.
“I feel pretty good, played light catch yesterday,” Sabathia said. “I’m ready to go.”
He has had trouble getting Cabrera out, as the slugger is 9 for 17 with two home runs off of him. The Tigers first baseman is batting .577 with four homers and seven RBIs in his last six games at Comerica.
“It should be a fun one to see (Verlander and Sabathia) go to work against each other,” Granderson said.
The team winning Game 2 has gone on to take each of the Yankees’ last eight postseason series, including the 2006 matchup with the Tigers.