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Thursday, September 29, 2011
Notebook: CC, Cabrera & the closers


Don’t forget about CC Sabathia.

That's the message the Yankees are sending out as they head into Game 1 of the ALDS with all the talk revolving around Tigers ace Justin Verlander and his 24 wins.

"We got one of the best pitchers in the game out there for us and we love having him on the mound, we'll be behind him, he'll be ready to go," center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "You know you're going to get intensity, concentration, all the above and you couldn't ask for anybody better to go on the mound for us and he's done that for his first season here in 2009 and all of last year and through the course of this season."

While Verlander had one of the best statistical years of any pitcher in the last decade, Sabathia again led the Yankees with 19 wins and also was one of the best pitchers in the American League. In the playoffs, Sabathia has come up big for the Yankees with a 5-1 record. For as good as Verlander has been, Sabathia gives his team confidence that they can beat the potential MVP candidate in Game 1.

"He's our ace and we feel like we're going to win every game when he's on the mound," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "At the very least he's going go give us a chance to win and that's all you can ask from your ace."

THE OTHER TIGERS MVP: Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera is the bat the Yankees are going to have to keep quiet if they want to advance to the ALCS. The Tigers other MVP candidate and the AL batting champ hit .343 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs this season and has great numbers lifetime against Sabathia.

"When you think about him, you think about (Albert) Pujols, you think about Manny (Ramirez), you think about some of the real great hitters over the last century, he's really, really special," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "One of the things people probably don’t give him enough credit for is what a smart hitter he is for being a young hitter. He understands all aspects of the game and I really have enjoyed watching him over his career, hopefully not too much over the next five to six days."

OPPOSITE TYPE: The two teams in this series  both have great closers, although they go about it differently. Detroit's Jose Valverde went 49-for-49 for the most in the AL while doing it in a rather loud way, while New York's Mariano Rivera racked up 44 in his usual calm and composed manner.

"Aside from outcomes, they're pretty different people," former Yankees reliever and current Tigers starter Phil Coke said. "Valverde is very exuberant and Mo is very straight-laced, ready to go, does his job like he's got ice water running through his veins."

ROSTER: The Yankees will announce their roster Friday.