(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers try to punch their ticket to the World
Series and complete a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees on Wednesday
when they play Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica
New York, though, will have ace CC Sabathia on the hill trying to avoid its
first postseason sweep since losing in three games to the Kansas City Royals
in the 1980 ALCS. The Yankees, though, have been swept all four previous times
they've trailed three games to none with it last happening in the 1976 World
Also, since the advent of the best-of-seven format in 1985, three of the four
teams who fell behind 3-0 in the ALCS have been swept. Of course, the only
team to rally from that deficit was the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who did so
against the Yankees.
"Well, we're going to fight," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said.
"Things haven't been going our way, there's no doubt about that, but everybody
in here wants to win. We've worked so long; we've worked too hard for this."
But the Yankees will have Sabathia on the hill Wednesday, as he tries to
follow up a brilliant effort in the decisive fifth game of the ALDS. Sabathia
gave up two runs to Baltimore in 8 2/3 innings of that one, as he improved to
2-0 this postseason to go along with a 1.53 ERA.
"I am definitely looking forward to getting a chance to pitch in this series,"
said Sabathia, who is 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA. "You know, I felt pretty good the
last two or three times out and felt good in the bullpen, so I just look to
continue to build off that, make sure I have my command down -- the fastball
command -- and really work off that. But I always say, whether good or bad, I
always put the last one behind me. I am ready for (Wednesday)."
Sabathia has faced the Tigers 35 times in his career and is 18-12 against them
with a 4.43 ERA.
New York's bats will need to be better than they have if they want to stay
alive on Wednesday. The Yankees are hitting a miserable .200 this postseason,
including an amazingly bad .182 clip in the ALCS. The putrid effort is on pace
to eclipse the .171 average they had against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the
1963 World Series.
New York's offensive woes continued against Justin Verlander on Tuesday, as a
solo homer by Delmon Young and an RBI double by Triple Crown winner Miguel
Cabrera was all the offense the Tigers would need in a 2-1 win.
"It's great to be up 3-0," Verlander said. "We have to win one, but against
this team, you never know. Every game in the postseason is a must-win. You
have to keep momentum on your side."
Over the first eight frames, Verlander (3-0) yielded just a pair of singles to
Ichiro Suzuki. Eduardo Nunez ended the right-hander's string of 23 straight
scoreless innings with a leadoff homer in the ninth, and Verlander was pulled
after retiring Brett Gardner on a groundout.
"Normally, I guess you don't take Secretariat out in the final furlong, but
that was pretty much it for him," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I was not
going to let him face Ichiro."
Phil Coke put the go-ahead run on base before fanning the red-hot Raul Ibanez
to earn his second straight save, moving the Tigers, one win away from their
first trip to the Fall Classic since 2006.
Not even a lineup change by manager Joe Girardi, who has seemingly pressed all
the right buttons this postseason, could revive New York's suddenly punchless
"There were some good at-bats (Tuesday). The ball was not carrying
tremendously well, we know that," Girardi said. "But I think (Verlander) ended
up with three strikeouts. So our guys put the ball in play and tried to get on
base, but, you know, when you face Verlander, you know what you're up against.
"The thing that you do is you keep encouraging the guys and you keep telling
them, 'Hey, find a way, find a way to get it done.'"
Alex Rodriguez, a three-time league MVP, was benched for the second time in
four games for Eric Chavez, while the struggling Nick Swisher was replaced by
Gardner. Chavez went 0-for-3 and Gardner, in his first start since Apr. 17,
also went hitless out of the leadoff spot.
"(New York) is a tremendous hitting team with big-time power and it's a
difficult lineup to manage against. So I thought (Verlander) was absolutely
terrific," Leyland said of his starter, who has allowed just two runs over 24
1/3 innings in three postseason starts.
Girardi used five relievers after starter Phil Hughes (0-1) exited early due
to back stiffness with no outs in the fourth inning.
Detroit, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Max Scherzer, who was 16-7
this season with a 3.74 ERA. Scherzer did not get a decision in his lone ALDS
start versus Oakland, but pitched well, surrendering just an unearned run and
three hits in 5 1/3 frames.
"He pitched a great game for us in Oakland and I think everybody expects kind
of the same thing," catcher Alex Avila said. "He's going to go out there and
give us the best he's got. And his best, more times than not, is usually good
enough. It's going to be tough obviously against CC, but it's a crazy game and
we might be able to scratch out a couple runs like we did (Tuesday) and pull
Scherzer struggled against the Yankees in his lone start against them this
season, as he allowed three runs and seven hits with seven walks in just 4 2/3
However, since that outing he's compiled a 15-4 record and 3.04 ERA.
"That is one of my worst starts of the year considering that's something I
pride myself on, limiting walks," said Scherzer.
"Really from that start on, it was a little bit longer after that when
everything seemed to click for me, when I started getting my fastball command
back. And for me, that start doesn't really apply to how they are going to
approach me this time."
In addition to last season's ALDS, the Tigers also beat the Yankees in the
first round in 2006. New York, though, took six of the 10 regular season
matchups this past year.
The Sports Network