Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Breaking down the Yankees and Tigers ahead of Game 1 of the 2012 American League Championship Series.
The New York Yankees have virtually no time to celebrate their American League Division series victory over the Baltimore Orioles. After clinching that series Friday night, the Yankees are right back to work Saturday (8 p.m. ET/TBS) when they host the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Let's break down both teams and look at some of the keys to the series.
How They Got Here
Regular-season record: 88-74, AL Central champs
ALDS: Defeated the Oakland Athletics in five games
New York Yankees
Regular-season record: 95-67, AL East champs
ALDS: Defeated the Baltimore Orioles in five games
Detroit: Prince Fielder -- Season: .313, 30 HR, 108 RBI; ALDS: .190, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Yankees: Mark Teixeira -- Season: .251, 24 HR, 84 RBI; ALDS: .353, 0 HR, 1 RBI
Advantage: Tigers. Teixeira still isn't completely healthy, and still isn't driving the ball consistently.
Detroit: Omar Infante -- Season: .274, 12 HR, 53 RBI; ALDS: .353, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Yankees: Robinson Cano -- Season: .313, 33 HR, 94 RBI; ALDS: .091, 0 HR, 4 RBI
Advantage: Yankees. New York needs the regular-season version of Cano, not the ALDS version, if it is going to reach the World Series.
Detroit: Jhonny Peralta -- Season: .239, 13 HR, 63 RBI; ALDS: .294, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Yankees: Derek Jeter -- Season: .316, 15 HR, 58 RBI; ALDS: .364, 0 HR, 2 RBI
Advantage: Yankees. Jeter is hurting with a bone bruise on his ankle, but he is still Jeter at the plate.
Detroit: Miguel Cabrera -- Season: .330, 44 HR, 139 RBI; ALDS: .250, 0 HR, 1 RBI
Yankees: Alex Rodriguez -- Season: .272, 18 HR, 57 RBI; ALDS: .125, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Advantage: Tigers. Cabrera won the Triple Crown. Rodriguez won a seat on the bench for Game 5 of the ALDS.
Detroit: Austin Jackson -- Season: .300, 16 HR, 66 RBI; ALDS: .250, 0 HR, 3 RBI
Yankees: Curtis Granderson -- Season: .232, 43 HR, 106 RBI; ALDS: .158, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Advantage: Even. Granderson hits for more power, but that is his only advantage.
Detroit: Andy Dirks -- Season: .322, 8 HR, 35 RBI; ALDS: .294, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Yankees: Nick Swisher -- Season: .272, 24 HR, 93 RBI; ALDS: .111, 0 HR, 1 RBI
Advantage: Yankees. At least on paper. If Swisher continues to be an automatic playoff out, how much longer can the Yankees play him and sit Brett Gardner?
Detroit: Delmon Young -- Season: .267, 18 HR, 74 RBI; ALDS: .235, 0 HR, 2 RBI
Yankees: Raul Ibanez -- Season: .240, 19 HR, 62 RBI; ALDS: .444, 2 HR, 3 RBI
Advantage: Even. Ibanez should not be the guy carrying the Yankees' offense, which he was during the ALDS.
Detroit: Doug Fister (Season: 10-10, 3.45 ERA, ALDS: 0-0, 2.57 ERA); Max Scherzer (Season: 16-7, 3.74 ERA , ALDS: 0-0, 0.00 ERA); Justin Verlander (Season: 17-8, 2.64 ERA, ALDS: 2-0, 0.56 ERA); Anibal Sanchez (Season: 9-13, 3.86 ERA, ALDS: 0-1, 2.84 ERA)
Yankees: Andy Pettitte (Season: 5-4, 2.87 ERA, ALDS: 0-1, 3.86 ERA); Hiroki Kuroda (Season: 16-11, 3.32 ERA, ALDS: 0-0, 2.16 ERA); CC Sabathia (Season: 15-6, 3.38 ERA, ALDS: 2-0, 1.53 ERA); Phil Hughes (Season: 16-13, 4.23 ERA, ALDS: 0-0, 1.35 ERA)
Advantage: Even. it will be very interesting to see how Yankees' manager Joe Girardi aligns his pitching staff. Will he set up Sabathia to pitch twice against Verlander, or avoid that matchup until a potential Game 7?
Advantage: Yankees. Soriano isn't Mariano Rivera, but he is certainly better than Valverde
Three Keys For The Yankees
1. Score More Runs. The Yankees simply have to score more runs than they did in the ALDS against Baltimore. Against a team with Cabrera and Fielder two or three runs is not going to be enough in most of those games -- unless we are talking about Sabathia vs. Verlander matchups. Going along with that, the Yankees have got to either get something from Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher or get them out of the way. It would be nice if Robbie Cano would play like a star, too.
2. Don't Get Macho With Cabrera and Fielder. Whenever possible the Yankees need to make players other than Cabrera and Fielder win games. Challenging them in key spots is a recipe for disaster.
3. Win Game 1. The Yankees have the home-field advantage and they don't want to give it back right away. They face a hot pitcher in Detroit's Doug Fister, and have the weird situation of not having a day off after clinching the ALDS, but they need to be energetic Saturday night. This no time for a let down.