In dueling Game 5s over a 24-hour span, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia demonstrated what aces are supposed to do in October.
Verlander stomped to the mound Thursday in Oakland, before a hostile and delirious crowd, and delivered the finest performance of his postseason career: nine innings, zero runs, 11 strikeouts. He rescued a beleaguered bullpen, threw his first playoff complete game, and secured a series victory for the Tigers that seemed so unlikely after the A's won two straight.
One day later, CC Sabathia accomplished something no one thought possible: He changed the conversation away from Alex Rodriguez's benching. The big lefty nearly matched Verlander pitch for pitch. He also went nine. He also surrendered only four hits. He gave up a run, but it hardly mattered in the end. The Yankees eliminated the Orioles, 3-1.
Now the Tigers and Yankees will play for the American League pennant, beginning Saturday night in the Bronx. The temptation is there to portray the ALCS as ...