Posted October 13, 2012 on
AP on Fox
New York Yankees
After finishing with baseball's first Triple Crown since 1967, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is one of the favorites to win his first MVP.
Three-time league MVP Alex Rodriguez may not even be in the New York Yankees lineup anymore as the AL championship series begins.
Both clubs face short turnarounds for Saturday night's series opener at Yankee Stadium, with Cabrera and Rodriguez in the spotlight for far different reasons.
These teams advanced from grueling five-game division series thanks to two wins apiece from their respective aces, CC Sabathia of New York and reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander for Detroit.
Each pitcher went the distance to capture Game 5, with Verlander coming through in a 6-0 win at Oakland on Thursday and Sabathia in a 3-1 home victory Friday over Baltimore.
That rules out the aces for this weekend's two games in the Bronx, and the focus instead figures to be on the hitters - and Cabrera in particular.
Cabrera turned in a season for the ages with a .330 average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs. He went 5 for 20 with one RBI in the Oakland series, and is a .179 hitter in 11 postseason games against the Yankees.
The slugger, however, has hit safely in all 13 of his LCS games, batting .360 with six homers, 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
"He is just a great hitter," Yankees starter Andy Pettitte said. "Obviously he doesn't have a whole lot of holes. He's got power to the opposite field, and he's got obviously pull power. So when you have got a guy like that, he's tough to get out."
Pettitte (0-1, 3.86 ERA) will start Game 1 after giving up three runs over seven-plus innings in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles. Cabrera is 4 for 12 with two homers against him in regular-season play to go along with eight hitless at-bats in the 2003 World Series with Florida.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, is in the news for his woes. The third baseman was benched for a playoff game Friday for the first time with New York, with manager Joe Girardi saying the star is "going through a difficult time."
The benching came after he was pinch-hit for in each of the previous two games against Baltimore. Raul Ibanez batted for Rodriguez and hit a tying homer in the ninth inning Wednesday before adding a game-winning blast in the 12th for a 3-2 victory.
Rodriguez is 2 for 16 with nine strikeouts in the postseason. He went 2 for 18 in last year's division series against Detroit, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in a 3-2 home loss in Game 5.
"I'm not happy and obviously disappointed," Rodriguez said before Friday's contest. "Want to be in there in the worst way."
The Tigers will start only right-handers in this series, beginning with Doug Fister (0-0, 2.57) on Saturday. That means Girardi could sit Rodriguez throughout, although the manager was non-committal after Friday's win.
Fister went 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in two division series games against New York last year as he returns to the site where he prevailed in Game 5 by allowing one run over five innings. Rodriguez went 0 for 4 against him in that series to drop to 1 for 9 in his career.
The Tigers right-hander yielded two runs over seven innings Sunday and did not get a decision in a 5-4 home win over the A's.
New York has many other struggling hitters besides A-Rod. Robinson Cano is 2 for 22, Nick Swisher is 2 for 18 and former Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson improved to 3 for 19 after homering in his two-hit performance Friday.
Detroit is appearing in the ALCS in consecutive years for the first time after falling to Texas last season. The Tigers won eight of 10 to close the regular season to overtake Chicago for the AL Central title before blowing a two-game lead against the A's and advancing thanks to Verlander.
"We don't want to be satisfied," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Now we're there. But we've been there before. Now we want that next step. We want eight more wins."
Cabrera was just 3 for 15 - albeit with five walks - in last year's division series, but now he's being protected by Prince Fielder, who is trying to improve a .192 career postseason average.
"Obviously you have Cabrera in there and Fielder, great hitters," Pettitte said. "Just hope you can get out there and make quality pitches."
The Yankees left-hander may be equally concerned about Delmon Young, who is 13 for 24 against him including postseason. Young had three solo homers in last year's division series.
Young will be playing his first games in New York since he was arrested there in April on a hate crime harassment charge following a fight at his hotel during which police say he yelled anti-Semitic epithets.
Pettitte is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three postseason starts at the new Yankee Stadium, where he last pitched in the playoffs in the 2010 ALCS. He has never faced the Tigers there and hasn't pitched against them anywhere since 2008.
New York won six of 10 meetings in the regular season, with Granderson posting team highs of four homers and 12 RBIs. Cabrera and Fielder combined for eight homers and 18 RBIs.
Barring any weather problems, the Yankees will become the first team ever to host MLB postseason games on five straight days in Sunday's Game 2 after playing the final three at home against the Orioles.
BEST OF MAXIM
Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees' starting lineup for their AL championship series opener against Detroit on Saturday night, dropped to sixth in the batting order.
Rodriguez was 2 for 16 with no RBIs in the division series against Baltimore, going hitless in 12 at-bats against right-handed pitchers with nine strikeouts. Manager Joe Girardi pinch hit for him in Game 3 and...
Alex Rodriguez will not be be in the lineup for tonight’s series finale between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles.Rodriguez, who has come under fire for his poor postseason performance will have to watch the game from the dugout. Eric Chavez is set to play third base in replacement.
Fans have called for Girardi to replace Rodriguez in the lineup.In game 3 Raul Ibanez...
With one out in the 13th inning of Thursday night's ALDS Game 4, Orioles rookie Manny Machado stood at third base with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez -- pupil and teacher, side by side with a game and a series on the line.
It was an improbable setting and an unlikely situation for the 20-year-old Machado.
After all, just about two years ago -- before he was the third pick in the...
Alex Rodriguez will start the New York Yankees' biggest game of the year on the bench.
After being pinch hit for in Games 3 and 4 against the Baltimore Orioles, the $275 million third baseman was removed from the starting lineup for Game 5 on Friday.
Eric Chavez is set to start at third base, while Game 3 star Raul Ibanez will be the designated hitter in the winner-take-all...
Down by a run in an all-even AL division series, Joe Girardi approached Alex Rodriguez and told baseball's highest-paid player he was going to pinch hit for him.
Bold move, benching one of the game's great sluggers.
''I just had a gut feeling,'' the Yankees manager said. ''I just went to him and I said, `You're scuffling a little bit right now...
For one night, Raul Ibanez was the greatest hitter of all time.
Pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez -- who many predicted would someday hold that title -- in the bottom of the ninth, Ibanez launched a home run into the right-field stands at Yankee Stadium to tie the game. Then, improbably, impossibly, he hit another in the 12th inning, sending New York into a frenzy and the Yankees...
The New York Yankees 9th-inning hero, Raul Ibanez came through once again to tie the Game 1 of the ALCS vs. Detroit Tigers4-4.Derek JeterBut just 15-minutes later, in the top of the 12th-inning, the Tigers scored but in-between the two runs the Yankees postseason took a turn for the worst.The moment caused the Stadium to go silent, as not even the Tigers wanted to watch the Yankees...
What a night! Squawker Jon and I were on the phone in the ninth inning, when we saw that Raul Ibanez had taken Alex Rodriguez's place in the lineup. We barely had time to digest it when we saw that Ibanez hit a homer to tie the game. Then, to make things even more unbelievable, he of course did something that has never been done in a postseason game before -- hitting a home run...
Miguel Cabrera danced on a chair in one corner of the visiting clubhouse, puffing a cigar. Prince Fielder doused his young sons, Jadyn and Haven, with non-alcoholic sparkling wine, then handed them each a bottle to shake and spray.
Just when the celebration seemed to be ending, Justin Verlander ran through the door and screamed ''Whoo!''
On the mound and in the...
This writer is voting for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Mike Trout for the AL MVP…PERIOD. Why? Let the debate continue!
Regardless of how far the Detroit Tigers go in the play-offs, Trout’s accomplishments, in less at bats than Miguel Cabrera, warrant this consideration based on the total player picture.
Mike Trout: .326, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 129 RS...
This has been a compelling postseason and it is getting more intriguing with each day. At the start of the season I projected the Giants and Yankees to meet in the World Series, and that’s still in play.
The Yankees’ showing makes them hard to figure out, but one thing is for certain, and that’s things will never be the same for Alex Rodriguez and how he’ll respond to being...
After last night's game, I couldn't sleep. Too angry. Too frustrated. If I owned a nuclear bomb, I would have driven to New York and blown up the city. That's how mad I was. (Note to world: Never give me control of a nuclear bomb.) Finally, I drifted off to Cougar Town, clutching one thin tendril of Yankee hope:Somehow, over the winter, the Yankees get rid The Three Stooges...
The Yankees may be forced to make lineup changes for today's deciding game five against the Orioles in the elimination game.
They may take Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson out of the starting lineup and replace with Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez.
A-Rod and Granderson have been terrible in this entire series going 3 for 30 combined versus Orioles pitching.