Each series took five memorable and dramatic games to decide a winner, but here we finally are; the AL Championship Series. This year’s matchup features two experienced playoff squads who outlasted pesky wildcard teams in the divisional round. The Detroit Tigers were here last year, but failed to advance to the World Series, losing to Texas. Their opponent and current World Series futures favorite, the New York Yankees, didn’t make it this far last season, but needless to say, they’ve been here plenty of times before as they go for their 41st American League pennant and their 28th World Series Championship this October.
The Tigers and Yankees both bring plenty of big bats into this series with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and sluggers Prince Fielder, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and more. However, the elder Yankees showed some signs of possible fatigue in their series with Baltimore. After being pushed each and every day by the Orioles during the 162 game regular season, they then endured a tough five-game battle with the O’s with two of those games going into extra-innings. The Yankees hitter looked drained at times, posting just a .211 average as a team for the series, not to mention seeing its veteran stars, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter strikeout a combined 17 times. Rodriguez’s performance was so poor in fact, that he was benched in favor of Eric Chavez for game five last night.
Instead of relying on a massive amount of runs, the Yankees and Tigers advanced with top-notch pitching performances and clutch hitting. Since each team needed its ace to win them game five, game one of the ALCS will feature the number twos of their respective rotations.
Doug Fister will get the ball for Detroit in game one and will be up against veteran Yankee starter, Andy Pettitte. Fister was a mediocre 10-10 on the regular season with a 3.45 ERA, but led the Tigers to victory in game two of the ALDS against Oakland. Fister went seven strong innings in that game, allowing just two earned runs on six hits, while striking out eight.
Pettitte, who missed most of the season, looked like his old self in a limited number of starts, going 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA. He also pitched well in game two of the ALDS against Baltimore, going seven innings and allowing three earned runs, but it wasn’t enough as New York lost 3-2.
The Yankees won six of 10 meetings between the teams during the regular season and hit the Tigers well in those games, outscoring Detroit 58-48. We should expect more offense in this series than we saw in the divisional round, which may favor New York. The Yankees have a more dangerous lineup up and down than Detroit, which has the bats of Cabrera, Fielder and Delmon Young, but lacks power in the bottom half.
Look for the Yankees to take game one of the series, in what may come down to the performance of the bullpens as the bats on each side should heat up and get the starters out of the game before the seventh inning.