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Friday, September 30, 2011
Verlander-Sabathia rumble in the Bronx



Getty Images, AP Photo
CC Sabathia (left) and Justin Verlander (right) oppose each other for the 2nd time this season.

The Detroit Tigers are back in the postseason for the first time since losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series. The Tigers began that postseason run by beating the New York Yankees (3 to 1) in the ALDS. The Yankees, on the other hand, are making their 50th postseason appearance, the most all-time and almost double the second-most (Los Angeles Dodgers, 26).

Inside the Series
Detroit has won three straight against New York, but is only 2-8 in the new Yankee Stadium (since 2009).

The Tigers are 77-0 when leading entering the eighth inning and 83-0 when leading entering the ninth inning. They are the only AL team that is undefeated when leading after entering the ninth inning. The Yankees bullpen was also one of the best in the AL. They led the league in ERA (3.12), ranked second in save percentage (74.6) and were third in opponent batting average (.239).

On the Mound
Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia will face off, a rematch of Opening Day when both pitchers went six innings and allowed three runs each. New York scored three runs off Detroit’s bullpen, while Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera held the Tigers scoreless. On the year, Verlander went 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against New York. Sabathia went 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against Detroit.

Verlander and Sabathia ranked first and second respectively in the American League in wins and strikeouts in the regular season. Verlander won 24 games (Sabathia 19) and struck out 250 batters (Sabathia 230).

Verlander, who finished second in the majors with 26 starts of at least seven IP this season, has failed to exceed six IP in any of his four career postseason starts. Sabathia is 5-1 in his last eight postseason starts, with the Yankees winning seven of those eight starts.

Getting Defensive
The Yankees ranked 12th in Defensive Runs Saved (-15) in the AL. They were hurt by their shortstop play, with -31 DRS at that position, the worst among AL teams.

The Tigers were tied for 14th in Defensive Runs Saved (-18) in the AL. Each of the four infield positions had a negative DRS, the only team in the AL to do that.

Stat of the Game
Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera is hitting .563 (9-for-16) with two HR and 11 RBI in his career against Sabathia. That’s his ninth-best batting average against any pitcher (min. 10 plate appearances). However, Cabrera doesn’t have a hit in 12 at-bats against lefties in his postseason career. He is hitting .321 (18-for-56) with four HR and 12 RBI against righties.