Fans were cheated out of a CC Sabathia/Justin Verlander showdown in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, when rain suspended play in the middle of the first inning on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
But the baseball world gets another shot at the pitchers' duel as the two aces go head-to-head tonight at Comerica Park in a pivotal Game 3.
There's even more pressure on Sabathia (19-8, 3.00) because the rain has forced the Yankees to do something they wanted to avoid until at least the AL Championship Series—start A.J. Burnett in Game 4.
CC surrendered a homer to Delmon Young in the first inning Friday but retired the other six batters he faced, including four via strikeout.
The big lefty went 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA during two regular-season starts against the AL Central champs this year, allowing four runs on 10 hits and three walks in seven innings in a 4-2 loss at Comerica Park on May 3.
Sabathia is 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA over 32 career starts versus the Tigers, including a 7-5 record and 4.30 mark in Detroit.
Miguel Cabrera has tormented Sabathia over the years, going 9-for-16 (.563) with two homers and 11 RBIs, but the same cannot be said for many of his teammates. Brandon Inge is 11-for-58 (.190) with 15 strikeouts, Jhonny Peralta is 1-for-17 (.059) and Ryan Raburn is 4-for-23 (.174) with eight K's.
One thing in Sabathia's favor tonight is the umpiring assignment behind home plate. Sabathia is 6-0 with a 2.19 ERA in seven career starts with Gerry Davis calling balls and strikes, while Verlander is 1-0 with a 6.57 in two similar outings.
Verlander, however, has plenty on his side. His 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA should easily win him the AL Cy Young, and he is 4-3 with a 3.97 in 10 career starts against the Yankees.
But the right-hander had a 4.50 ERA in two no-decisions versus New York this season and didn't look that sharp during his brief outing Friday. Verlander yielded a run on two walks and a wild pitch over one inning.
Derek Jeter led off by reaching on a wild third strike, and the captain is 9-for-25 (.360) against Verlander. Jorge Posada is 6-for-20 (.300) with three doubles and five RBIs, but Robinson Cano is 4-for-21 (.190), the struggling Alex Rodriguez is 4-for-18 (.222), Nick Swisher is 8-for-46 (.174) with 17 strikeouts and Mark Teixeira is 3-for-22 (.136) with seven K's.
The Bombers will have to hope Sabathia's postseason experience wins out in the end. He is 7-4 with a 4.65 ERA in 14 career playoff outings, while Verlander is just 1-2 with a 5.96 in five starts.
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