at NEW YORK YANKEES
American League Championship Series Game 1
First pitch: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
The Yankees are looking for payback facing the same Tigers team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year, when the clubs begin the ALCS on Saturday night.
Both teams survived thrilling five-game series thanks to stellar pitching performances from their aces in Game 5 of the ALDS. Detroit's Justin Verlander threw a shutout in a 6-0 win in Oakland and New York left-hander CC Sabathia also went the distance in a 3-1 victory over Baltimore. This ALCS will begin with Tigers right-hander Doug Fister facing Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte. Fister pitched very well in Game 2 of the ALDS, allowing just two runs on seven innings with 8 K's and just two walks. He also got the job done in the decisive Game 5 of the 2011 ALCS in Yankee Stadium, holding New York to one run over five innings in a 3-2 victory. Pettitte was the only Yankees starter saddled with a loss in the ALDS, as he gave up three runs in seven innings. He was even less effective the last time he faced the Tigers in 2008, allowing five runs in six innings. Considering the Yankees have played 34 innings in the past three days of intense baseball, they must be exhausted starting this series off with no rest. The pick here is for DETROIT to open the ALCS with the Game 1 victory.
Fister is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in four career postseason games (three starts, one relief appearance). He did not fare well in his relief outing in Game 2 of last year's ALDS, which was also in Yankee Stadium, giving up six runs on seven hits in just 4.2 innings. The right-hander has thrown the ball pretty well since the start of September, going 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in his final six regular-season starts before his ALDS victory. Although his career numbers versus New York in the regular season aren't great (1-2, 5.18 ERA, 1.48 WHIP in four starts), he did throw quality starts against the Bombers in his only two matchups over the past three seasons, allowing just five runs in 13.1 innings (3.38 ERA). With the offensive struggles the Yankees had in the ALDS, posting a collective .211 batting average and .333 slugging percentage, Fister should be able to post another quality start. Although Detroit's bullpen is well rested with two days off, the group was not very effective in the ALDS with a 5.00 ERA over nine innings.
Pettitte will be making his 44th postseason start, compiling a 19-11 record with a 3.83 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in his extensive playoff career. He has never faced the Tigers in any of these outings though. In 23 regular-season starts against Detroit, he is 10-9 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. The left-hander has been very good versus American teams this year, going 4-3 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in eight starts. He has been even better in his home ballpark, tallying a 4-1 record with a 1.85 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in seven starts. If he gets into trouble Saturday, he knows that his bullpen has got his back. In the ALDS, Yankees relievers have allowed just one run in 11.1 innings (0.79 ERA) with 10 strikeouts and zero walks. Detroit's offense has outscored New York during the 2012 playoffs so far, averaging 3.2 runs per game and batting .252. However, the Yankees have won six of the 10 meetings in 2012, averaging 5.8 runs per game with a .287 BA and slugging .482. Detroit has 4.8 runs, a .294 BA and .465 SLG against New York in 2012.