The aces meet again. Expect a longer rematch.
CC Sabathia is scheduled to start Monday night for the New York Yankees against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander in Game 3 of their American League playoff series in Detroit. The two perennial All-Stars squared off in the opener Friday night at Yankee Stadium but the game was suspended after only 1½ innings because of rain, disappointing fans who were geared up for an entertaining pitchers’ duel.
New York finished off a 9-3 victory Saturday night behind rookie Ivan Nova.
“Hopefully, I’m able to keep it like my routine, I guess,” Verlander said, adding that the brief outing Friday might be beneficial. “Kind of treat that as a pretty intense bullpen session and go about my business as normal.
“You know it’s going to be electric tomorrow. The fans in Detroit have been waiting anxiously for this day since 2006. Hopefully we don’t disappoint them and hopefully we have a lot more home games.”
After the opener was suspended, Tigers manager Jim Leyland immediately said Verlander would be back on the mound Monday. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, however, did not confirm his plans for Sabathia until Sunday.
“I feel pretty good, played light catch yesterday,” Sabathia said. “I’m ready to go.”
Girardi also said right-hander A.J. Burnett would start Game 4 if the best-of-five series goes that far.
Burnett struggled to an 11-11 record with a 5.15 ERA this season and was not expected to get a start in this series. But the suspended game eliminated an off day and forced both teams to change their pitching plans.
Girardi was left with a choice between Burnett and Phil Hughes for Game 4. Hughes, an 18-game winner in 2010, was bothered by a sore back late in the season and made his final two appearances out of the bullpen. He has not started since throwing six solid innings in a win Sept. 12 at Seattle.
“The only way I probably would have used Hughes in Game 4 is if we had to use A.J. last night,” Girardi said Sunday. “Phil hasn’t been stretched out lately. A.J., his month of September was not bad. You look at the strikeouts per innings, it was a complete turnaround from August.”
Following a substantial drop in velocity, Hughes missed most of the first half with inflammation in his right arm. He finished 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA in 17 games this year, including 14 starts.
Hughes, however, has plenty of experience in the bullpen while Burnett has made only five relief appearances during his 13-year career.
“I’ll be ready,” Burnett said. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. These guys have been behind me.”
Rick Porcello would start Game 4 for the Tigers.