Thursday, October 6, 2011

ALDS Finale Features Unlikely Starters

What was once promised to be a possible Game 5 duel of two veteran aces, will instead be a matchup between Ivan Nova, a 24-year-old rookie and Doug Fister, a 27-year-old who 3 months ago pitched for one of the worst teams in baseball. Nova has not lost since June 3rd. Fister, the Tigers trade jewel, has lost only once since August 14th. Notably, that loss came to the Yankees just days ago at the hands of Nova.

This game will prove to be a no holds barred fight to the finish.  CC Sabathia is available. Justin Verlander isn't. The Yankees, of course, don't want to see Sabathia pitching tonight or else that means Nova faltered. The only pitchers they want on the mound after Nova are Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. The Tigers want Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde pitching at the end of the game holding a lead, not trying to keep it close to salvage the season.

Questions abound. Can the Yankees build off their 6-run 8th inning Tuesday night in Game 4? Can Nova win yet again? Did Alex Rodriguez break his slump in Game 4? Will Fister throw the game everyone expected of Verlander? Will Don Kelly be the surprise hero for the Tigers? Or will they ride the bat of their MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera?

The winner meets the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series.

Statistical Notes:
  • Jorge Posada, a questionable selection by manager Joe Girardi as the main DH, is hitting .400 with 4 BB and 1 HBP
  • Brett Gardner is hitting .385 with two big 2-run, 2-out hits
  • The Yankees, who led MLB in HR during the regular season, have only 3 for the series
  • Delmon Young leads all hitters in the series with 2 HR
  • The Tigers are hitting .226 for the series
  • The Tigers entire staff has a 6.69 ERA for the series