When Game 1 of the 2011 American League Division Series begins Friday night (8:37 p.m. ET/TBS) at Yankee Stadium ace left-hander CC Sabathia (19-8) will be on the mound for the New York Yankees. For one of the few times with Sabathia pitching, though, the Yankees will not have the advantage. That is because Cy Young Award lock and MVP candidate Justin Verlander (24-5) will be pitching for the Detroit Tigers.
Verlander led the American League in victories, winning percentage (.828), innings pitched (251), strikeouts (240), ERA (2.40), hits allowed per nine innings (6.2), WHIP (0.92) and ERA + (170). Sabathia has not been as sharp the past couple of months as the Yankees have become accustomed to, allowing 87 hits over his last 68.2 innings. He finished with an ERA of 3,00, pitched 237 innings, struck out 230, and is still unquestionably the ace of the Yankee staff.
Oddsmakers favor the Tigers in this matchup. Detroit opened at +115, the Yankees at -122.
The Yankees do expect slugger Alex Rodriguez to be in the lineup and at third base Friday night. Rodriguez has battled knee and thumb injuries all season, and missed Wednesday's regular-season finale against Tampa Bay with soreness in his surgically-repaired knee.
Be sure to visit SB Nation New York's Yankees vs. Tigers 2011 ALDS hub page for complete information about the series. Here is some of what you will find:
- Game and TV Schedule
- Five Potential Difference-Makers For the Yankees
- Brian Cashman: Is this the Yankee GM's finest season?