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Pitching matchup won't change after ALCS rainout

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- The weather put the Detroit Tigers' party on hold Wednesday night, and when the American League Championship Series resumes Thursday afternoon, the New York Yankees will try to back it up at least another day.

After a beautiful, sun-drenched afternoon in metropolitan Detroit, clouds and threatening weather popped up as New York's hitters have done while Detroit has taken a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The tarp wasn't even on the field when it was announced the game's 8:07 p.m. EDT starting time was being pushed back due to approaching bad weather.

Sprinkles arrived after nearly an hour, and around 9:15 p.m. EDT, Major League Baseball announced the game was being postponed to protect the integrity of a nine-inning game. MLB did not want to have the contest halted midgame or have a long early rain delay that would force the participants to junk their starting pitchers before they had a chance to earn a decision.

The Tigers had at least one game this season that never got started under the same circumstances.

Game 4 now moves into Game 5's starting slot at 4:07 p.m. EDT on Thursday, with a possible Game 5 set for Friday at a time to be announced.

The Yankees will still send ace CC Sabathia to the mound Thursday to see if they can starting clawing their way out of that 3-0 hole. The Tigers will go with their scheduled starter, Max Scherzer.

This is only the fourth time in 71 postseason series that New York has found itself trailing, 3-0.

Five times since the advent of a best-of-seven format for the ALCS, teams have taken a 3-0 lead, and the only one to rally from that deficit was the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series. Each of the other four series ended in a sweep.

Detroit's power pitchers have overshadowed some quality New York pitching and forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to juggle his lineups in the wake of a .182 team average for the three games.

He benched Alex Rodriguez for Tuesday night's third game, and for the rained-out fourth game, Rodriguez was due to have a seating companion in Curtis Granderson, who is 0-for-10 with six strikeouts in the series. Rodriguez is 1-for-7 with three strikeouts.

"It's not that I want to sit Alex Rodriguez," Girardi said. "Think of what we've been through as a club and some of the people that have stepped up at times to get us in this situation.

"It's not that I have sat him against every right-hander, but the struggles have continued. I think as a manager and as a team at this time, you have got to think about today and about today only. You look at Scherzer and how tough he's been against right-handers this season.

"I would love to say I can have one consistent lineup, that maybe it changed against a right-hander or a left-hander. We haven't put ourselves in a position to do that."

Eric Chavez, hitless in six at-bats, was due to replace Rodriguez, whom Girardi said would play against lefties (of whom there are two on the Detroit staff, both in the bullpen).

Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher was due to return to the lineup in place of Granderson, with Brett Gardner, who played left field Tuesday, sliding over to center field. Ichiro Suzuki was set to hit leadoff, as he did in Game 2. Gardner led off in Game 3.

"Grandy has been one of our hitters that has struggled a lot, too," Girardi said. "Swish has had a little bit of success off Scherzer in the past."

Detroit's pitching has held New York scoreless in all but two innings of the three games -- a four-run ninth in Game 1 that included two two-run home runs, and a solo home run leading off the ninth inning of Game 3.

Tigers starters put up a 37-inning streak of allowing just one run, which was unearned, beginning with the sixth inning of Anibal Sanchez's start at Oakland in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

"Right now we're playing pretty good, and I hope we can keep it up," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "There's no tricks at this point. Just manage the game. Let the players take care of it. And if you have to make a move, make a move."

Tigers ace Justin Verlander said, "It's great to be up 3-0, but we've got to win one more."

NOTES: Derek Jeter is due to have ankle surgery Saturday, putting his recovery time close to the end of spring training. "Nothing seemed worse than what our team doctor saw," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday. ... Tigers left-handed reliever Phil Coke was supposed to have Wednesday off after saving two consecutive games. ... Leyland says all those shots of him calmly watching the game from the dugout are lying. "You're not calm, trust me," he said. "If you are, you should go home. You just have to learn how to handle it; it's definitely not easy."
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