Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium II was unusual, but once it was restarted, the story was not either of the men originally scheduled to start -- CC Sabathia for the Yankees or Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers -- but the man who "started" for the Yankees, Ivan Nova.
Like Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte before him, this kid pitches like he doesn't know the meaning of pressure. He pitched from the 3rd into the 9th, and until the 9th he didn't allow the Tigers a single run.
The Yankees pushed a run across in the 5th, and 2 more in the 6th before loading the bases that same inning, and Robinson Cano called up Babe Ruth's Deli and ordered a grand salami.
The 9th was a bit of a hiccup, as Nova did allow 2 runs, and Luis Ayala got us worried enough that Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera. But mo slammed the door. Final score, Yankees 9, Tigers 3.
It takes 11 wins in the postseason to win the World Series. 1 down, 10 to go.
Game 2 was not nearly as good for the Yankees. They didn't even get a hit off of Max Scherzer until the 6th, while Freddy Garcia did not have his good stuff, and Girardi decided to send my blood pressure, and possibly a few fly balls, heading for the roof by bringing in Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Ayala. Incredibly, none of those 3 numpties made the situation any worse.
But a Yankee comeback fell a little short. Curtis Granderson homered in the 8th, and Nick Swisher did so in the 9th. The Yankees got the tying run to the plate, but it wasn't enough: Tigers 5, Yankees 3. Series tied 1-1.
So we go to Detroit.
A few years back, there was a Reebok commercial, showing basketball players sitting in the lotus position and looking up at a really big screen, showing a big fat black man wearing a turban and sunglasses, dispensing wisdom. Giving a whole new meaning to the words "Big Brother is watching you."
"But, Master," one of the players looked up and asked, "what if we behave badly?"
The "master" lowered his shades, looked over them, and said, "You go to Detroit."
Well, regardless of whether the Yanks had won last night, they would still have had to play at least one game in Detroit.
A lot of Yankee Fans are panicking, because they have to face Justin Verlander tonight in Game 3, and A.J. Burnett is scheduled to pitch Game 4.
They're also concerned that this could be a repeat of the 2006 season:
* The Yankees were well behind the Boston Red Sox at one point.
* The Yankees stormed back, and the Sox crumbled, missing the Playoffs completely while the Yankees took the AL East.
* The Yankees had to play the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS, and won Game 1, but then both the bats and the arms cooled off, and we lost Game 2, before heading out to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 -- and, as it turned out, the next game at Yankee Stadium (the old one) was the next season's home opener.
* The St. Louis Cardinals are in the NL Playoffs.
Actually, aside from the Yanks, Tigers and Cards, it's a very different Playoffs. In 2006, the other Playoff teams were the Minnesota Twins, the Oakland Athletics, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres and... the Mets! All of whom fell well short this season. Whereas this year, the other teams are the Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks -- all of whom, except for the Phillies, were well short in '06.
Consider that, in 2006 ALDS Game 3, Randy Johnson tanked; and, in Game 4, Jaret Wright didn't have it at all.
In 2011 ALDS Game 3, the Yankees will have Sabathia, a far more dependable pitcher in Pinstripes than the Big Unit was. And, in Game 4, despite having been "Bad A.J." for most of the last 2 years, Burnett has been "Good A.J." in postseason play much more recently than had 1997-98 Yankee postseason nemesis Wright.
You say Verlander will be starting for the Tigers, bringing his 24-5 record, his 0.920 WHIP, and his 170 ERA+? I say the Yankees have already won 3 games started by Verlander this season -- including Game 1 of this series.
And while the Yankees' do have slumping players in Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, they do NOT have wantaway "slugger" Gary Sheffield in this one; instead, they have Cano and Granderson, who will make the difference.
Yes, this series could very well be over in Game 4.
See you at Yankee Stadium II for Game 1 of the ALCS against either Tampa Bay or Texas.
Oh, by the way: The Cardinals beat the Phillies last night, to even their NLDS at 1-1. The losing pitcher for the Phils? Cliff Lee. In his last 3 postseason appearances, he's 0-3 with a 7.13 ERA and a 1.642 WHIP.
Yeah, that's the kind of postseason pitching we missed out on by not signing Cliff Lee. He's a bum.
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