Yankees Get Bats Rolling Before ALDS; Await Opponent
All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez homered twice in the Bomber's breakout inning. His three-run blast and grand slam gave him an American League record seven RBI in one inning.
Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Johnny Damon all recorded multi-hit games.
Damon knocked in two runs on a sixth-inning double giving him 82 RBI on the year. That's his highest output since 2004, when he plated a career-high 94 runners as a member of the Boston Red Sox. His 24 home runs this season tied a career high, and marked only the third time in the 35-year-old's career that he reached 20 home runs.
Free agent acquisition, A.J. Burnett, pitched five innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits while striking out three.
He finished his debut season in pinstripes with 13 victories, third most on the team. He struck out more than eight batters per nine innings which led all Yankees starters in 2009. This also marks the first time in Burnett's 11-year career that he has pitched 200 innings in back-to-back seasons, a good milestone for a 32-year-old fireballer still trying to shed the "injury-prone" label.
A-Rod's second homer was also the 583rd of his career, tying him with retired slugger Mark McGwire for eighth on MLB's all-time list. Rodriguez's season ends with exactly 30 home runs and 100 RBI, the 12th consecutive season in which he has reached those markers.
The Yankees have already elected to have three days off during the ALDS, but they do not know their opponent yet.
The Detroit Tigers faltered down the stretch, dropping 15 of 25 games, allowing Minnesota to tie them for the AL Central lead going into the last game of the season. Both teams won on Tuesday to force a one-game playoff set for Tuesday afternoon at 5 PM EST.
This is familiar territory for the Twins, as they lost a one-game playoff to the White Sox last October in Chicago by a score of 1-0. That year, a coin flip was used to determine which club would yield home field advantage as the two teams tied in their regular season series. Minnesota did not allow fate to have a say this season, as they took 11 of 18 games from Detroit.
That means the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome will live to see at least one more baseball game. The Twins will vacate the multi-sport complex in 2010 when they move outdoors to Target Field. They currently share the Metrodome with the NFL's Minneota Vikings.
Normally, the one-game playoff is played the day after the season's conclusion, but the Vikings are using the facility to host Green Bay on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Detroit rookie Rick Porcello (14-9 record, 4.04 ERA) and Scott Baker (15-9, 4.36) will be the beneficiaries of that scheduling conflict. They are scheduled to take the mound for their respective clubs on Tuesday.
Porcello, 20, last threw on Tuesday, Sept. 29, in a 3-2 loss to Minnesota. He went 6 and 1/3 innings allowing one earned run on seven hits and did not factor into the decision.
Baker, 28, made his last start on Thursday, Oct. 1, earning an 8-3 win over Detroit, in a game where a Tigers win would have handed them their first division title since 1987. Baker did not allow an earned run in five innings of work, giving up just five hits while striking out three.
The winner of Tuesday's playoff will immediately board a plane to New York.
First pitch for Game One of the ALDS is scheduled for 6:07 PM EST Wednesday evening at Yankee Stadium.
CC Sabbathia (19-7, 3.37), coming off one of his worst outings of the season at Tampa Bay, will toe the rubber first for the Yankees. The question is, will any of the these team's, who have been playing in a playoff atmosphere for the past month, have anything left for the Bronx Bombers?
Time will tell...
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