Bring on the Tigers
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, October 13- There is one difference for the New York Yankees when they open the best of seven American League Championship Series tonight in the Bronx- CC Sabathia, who pitched the complete game division series win Friday night against Baltimore, won’t start the opening game.
And for the Yankees, who advanced to their 15th ALCS, Sabathia is a key if the series should go the full route. Because not having Sabathia pitch game one against Detroit means it’s probable the Yankees ace will get two starts instead of a possible three.
However, this is Sabathia, and these are the Yankees. Anything is possible after a remarkable and low scoring series with the Orioles.
“He’s our ace,” said manager Joe Girardi about the complete game and 8/2-3 innings that won game one of the Baltimore series. “That’s the bottom line. He’s done an unbelievable job since coming here. But that was vintage CC.”
Girardi said there was no question about Sabathia clinching and completing the deciding game. “He was going. It was his game,” he said. So many times we have heard Girardi refer to his ace that way, even when Sabathia struggled at times during the season.
Ask the Yankees. They know how valuable Sabathia is. After game one in Baltimore there were no signs of fatigue. Friday night it was the same. He became the second Yankee to throw a complete game in a ALDS game, the first being David Wells, and 17/2 innings tossed surpassed David Cone in a division series.
“He usually gets better as the game goes along and he has a way of stepping it up. I have a ton of confidence in CC even when I knew he was going through his struggles. I knew he would get it right. I felt good about sending him out there.”
Girardi was referring to the eighth inning. The Orioles had their opportunity with the bases loaded. It was Sabathia’s fourth straight quality outing, the last two why New York moves on and Baltimore goes away now until April.
There are no days off in between series, and no pitching rotation has been set by Girardi for the Tigers. Just Andy Pettitte for game one and the game two start Sunday night in the Bronx will be announced by Girardi Friday afternoon. Confidence with Pettitte who has won more post season games for a pitcher, coming out of retirement to be where the Yankees are now
Sabathia will probably get a start in game four, with the travel and off day Monday. But the way Sabathia threw the ball in the two games against Baltimore, the feeling is he could go sooner.
“I was trying to back up a little bit and tried to be aggressive with fastballs and that didn’t work,” commented Sabathia about the only inning where tension was evident in the Bronx at the Stadium.
He said about the deciding game on the mound, “Right now this ranks at the top. Pitching a game like, this having a chance to win a championship every year, the organization puts together, that’s, all you can ask for with a team.”
“It’s what I came here for. It’s what I play the game for. Getting the ball for saving the season whether its game one or game 15. I feel I have to win every game. I go out, put pressure on myself to perform well. I expect it.”
The Orioles never went away. Girardi, still feeling the effects on the passing of his father did not field many questions about what is next. The Tigers have their ace also, Justin Verlander, who also won’t be available for game one.
“It seems like when you manage the New York Yankees every series is like managing the World Series,” he said. But he has Sabathia, a difference whether it is the first game, the middle one, or the last.
Sabathia said, there is a long way to go, and he looks for three or four more starts this post season. There could be one more, pending how far this Yankees team will advance with the World Series one step away.
They have CC Sabathia, and to them getting to and winning the World Series is what it is about.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring firstname.lastname@example.org
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