Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees: 5 Biggest Matchups in Game 1 of ALCS

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIOctober 13, 2012

Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees: 5 Biggest Matchups in Game 1 of ALCS

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    Both the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers came out victorious in their respective ALDS Game 5’s and will now play a best-of-seven series to determine who goes home and who heads to the World Series.

    The Yankees received an ace performance by CC Sabathia in a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, a complete-game nine-strikeout gem. Detroit also got a dominant start out of its No. 1, with Justin Verlander tossing a complete-game shutout (10 strikeouts) against the Oakland A’s.

    Game 1 of the ALCS will feature one of the best postseason pitchers of all time, Andy Pettitte—who didn’t pitch against the Tigers all year long—and Detroit’s No. 2, Doug Fister, who was handed a no-decision against the Yankees in August and had solid starts in last year’s postseason.

    Read on to see the five biggest matchups of Game 1 from what should be an electric atmosphere at Yankee Stadium. 

Andy Pettitte vs. Jhonny Peralta

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    Jhonny Peralta has absolutely owned Andy Pettitte over the course of his career.

    In 16 career at-bats against the New York lefty, Peralta has six hits, three home runs and nine RBI.

    The key to Pettitte retiring Peralta on Saturday will be to keep him off-balance with his long curveball. That will open Peralta up so Pettitte can try to sneak a fastball or two by him.

Doug Fister vs. Curtis Granderson

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    Curtis Granderson did not have a great ALDS, despite hitting a home run in a pivotal Game 5. He has also lacked success against the Tigers starter.

    In six career at-bats against Fister, Granderson has just one hit and has struck out four times. Clearly, Fister knows how to attack him.

    In order for Granderson to come up with a hit or two on Saturday, he needs to look for a first-pitch fastball from the right-hander and hope it flies out to the right-field bleacher seats.

Prince Fielder vs. Short Porch in Right Field

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    The weakness of any pitcher in Yankee Stadium is trying to keep the ball in the park, especially with the short porch in right field.

    Pettitte will have the task of keeping Prince Fielder under control, not allowing him to launch one in the seats.

    Fortunately for Pettitte, Fielder only has one career home run at Yankee Stadium and has also only hit six home runs off lefties this season. 

Alex Rodriguez vs. Media and Fans

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    Alex Rodriguez has had a postseason to forget.

    In the four games that he played in—not five, since he was benched for the final game of the ALDS—he only had two hits in 16 at-bats (.125) with nine strikeouts.

    A-Rod has to get past his ALDS horror story and come up big early in the ALCS. If he can get the fans off of his back with an extra-base hit off Fister, he can regain the confidence he needs to produce later in the series.

Rafael Soriano vs. Jose Valverde

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    Both starting pitchers are bound to throw around seven innings on Saturday, leaving the game in the hands of the bullpens and both teams’ closers.

    Rafael Soriano has been great for the Yankees so far, appearing in two games without allowing a run in 3.1 innings. He’s been very reliable when the game is on the line and could definitely impact Game 1.

    On the other hand, Jose Valverde has been nearly just as good. Despite a minor hiccup against the A’s, he has been his regular self—the same closer who saved 35 games during the regular season.

Players to Watch

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    Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

    Derek Jeter had a great ALDS despite playing on one leg throughout the entire series. Jeter went 8-for-22 during the five games with two extra-base hits and four runs, but he was clearly bothered at times with his ailing ankle.

    At times, Jeter was replaced late in the game since he could barely move. If Jeter is still having issues by game time, which is likely since he hasn’t had any time off, the Yankees captain could be in trouble.


    Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers 

    Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera didn't have a fantastic ALDS.

    He only batted .250 over the five ALDS games with just two extra-base hits. He hasn’t been nearly as awful as Alex Rodriguez, but a solid Game 1 performance would do wonders for the AL MVP candidate.

Game 1 Prediction

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    Both teams are coming off of spectacular Game 5’s during the ALDS, but obviously only one team can win the opening game of the ALCS.

    Pettitte does have quite the track record in the postseason, but this game will be all Tigers. Look for Austin Jackson to get the scoring started early and Miguel Cabrera to launch a home run to left field.

    New York will get on the board, but it won’t be Alex Rodriguez’s doing. Instead, it will be Robinson Cano, who lashes an RBI double to right-center field, scoring Ichiro Suzuki from first base.

    With the Tigers leading 5-3 in the eighth, Prince Fielder will hit a two-run home run off of David Robertson to give Detroit a commanding four-run lead.

    Jose Valverde will come in for the ninth and strike out Raul Ibanez to end the game and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the series.

    Score: Tigers 7, Yankees 3