Posted on: October 2, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 8:17 pm

A.J. Burnett to start Game 4 for Yankees

By Matt Snyder

Embattled pitcher A.J. Burnett will start Game 4 of the ALDS for the Yankees, should the game be necessary, the team announced Sunday. Burnett was originally only going to pitch out of the bullpen in the series, but the rain suspended-Game 1 altered the pitching plans for both teams and a fourth starter was needed for New York.

Burnett, 34, signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal before the 2009 season and wasn't bad his first season. The Yankees won the World Series and Burnett was 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in the regular season. The past two seasons, however, Burnett's been erratic at best and awful at worst. Combining 2010-11, Burnett is 21-26 -- and this is for one of the best teams in baseball, mind you -- with a 5.20 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. In 2010, he led the majors in hit batsmen. In 2011, he led the majors in wild pitches. He was shelled in his playoff start against the Rangers last season, and he managed both a hit-by-pitch and a wild pitch.

Basically, prepare for an adventurous Game 4. Burnett's taking the hill.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 3:17 pm

ALDS Game 2: Tigers turn to Scherzer

By Matt Snyder

Tigers at Yankees, 3:07 p.m. ET, New Yankee Stadium, TNT


Tigers Yankees
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Austin Jackson CF 1 Derek Jeter SS
2 Magglio Ordonez RF 2 Curtis Granderson CF
3 Delmon Young LF 3 Robinson Cano 2B
4 Miguel Cabrera 1B 4 Alex Rodriguez 3B
5 Victor Martinez DH 5 Mark Teixeira 1B
6 Alex Avila C 6 Nick Swisher RF
7 Jhonny Peralta SS 7 Jorge Posada DH
8 Wilson Betemit 3B 8 Russell Martin C
9 Ramon Santiago 2B 9 Brett Gardner LF
  Max Scherzer RHP   Freddy Garcia RHP


Scherzer vs. Yankees:
He faced the Bronx Bombers twice this year and it was a tale of two ballparks. Scherzer was shelled in Yankee Stadium on April 3 (9 H, 6 ER, 4 HR, L) but masterful against the Yankees in Comerica Park May 4 (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9 K, W). Unfortunately for Scherzer and the Tigers, the weather forced his start this series to Game 2 in New York. Still, it's been a while since either start and Scherzer has had pretty good success against the Yankees in his thus-far short career. He's 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in three career starts. The 27 year old has never pitched in the postseason, so we'll see how he reacts.

Garcia vs. Tigers: The 13-year veteran only saw the Tigers once this season and he didn't fare well (7 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, L). Just like with Scherzer, though, that was a long time ago. Garcia has a ton of history against the Tigers, as he's made 32 starts against them in his career. We know why, what with the several years playing for the White Sox in the AL Central. Garcia is 18-8 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.26 WHIP against the Tigers. Then again, it's not exactly these Tigers, as only three of them (Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez, Victor Martinez) have more than 30 career plate appearances against him. Of note: Ordonez hits Garcia well, but Miguel Cabrera owns Garcia, with a .391/.517/.826 line in 29 plate appearances. That's five singles, a double, three home runs and six walks against only 14 outs. Wow.

New York-Detroit ALDS

  • Including both regular season and the postseason, the series in 2011 is tied, 4-4, with the Yankees having outscored the Tigers 41-39. Needless to say, these teams appear pretty evenly matched. 
  • The last time Garcia was pitching in the postseason, it turned out just fine. He was a member of the World Series champion 2005 White Sox rotation. In three starts that postseason, Garcia was 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP.
  • Of the current Yankees, no one really hits Scherzer overly well -- in the incredibly small sample we have available. They have a collective .202 average with a .276 on-base percentage. Jorge Posada does have two home runs in just eight at-bats, while Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira also have homered off Scherzer.
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Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:27 am

Nova all the Yankees need in a No. 2 starter

By Matt Snyder

The narrative we heard all last offseason and during most of the 2011 regular season was that the Yankees' rotation behind CC Sabathia is a mess. You can't win in October with only one good starting pitcher, the narrative reads. And while Ivan Nova had a 16-4 regular-season record, his low strikeout rate, high WHIP and mediocre ERA say he's not much more than a run-of-the-mill starter being aided by a playing on a great team.

But you know what? All the Yankees need out of a two is consistency. Nova provides it.

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The outing Saturday night proved he's plenty capable of filling the second slot in the Yankees rotation, just as he's been proving all season. He worked into the ninth, which was his seventh inning, before faltering. His final line: 6 1/3 innings, four hits, two earned runs, four walks, five strikeouts and the win. That's not great, but it's not bad either. Basically, it was the same story it has been all year with Nova. He's not great, but he's good enough and that's really all the Yankees need from him.

The biggest test Saturday was how Nova would handle the postseason stage. He'd never previously pitched in the playoffs and was facing a pretty potent Detroit offense. One would have to conclude he passed the test with flying colors through six innings of work.

Nova's not A.J. Burnett, where you're liable to see either a 9-run, 3-inning outing or a 10-stirkeout shutout. The Yankees don't need to gamble like that. They have one of the most high-powered offenses in baseball and a back-end of the bullpen that can shut down any opposing offense with relative ease. They don't need Sabathia-type dominance every time out in order to win. Nova just provides exactly what the Yankees need. There are no hills and valleys. They have their ace to take care of business against other aces. Behind CC, they need Nova to provide a quality start. That's it. That's all the Yankees need out of their second starter.

Nova didn't start Saturday night, as the game was a continuation from where it left off Friday night, but his line would have amounted to a quality start. He had 16 quality starts in the regular season. He won 16 games. The Yankees won 19 of his 27 starts in the regular season. They won Saturday night.

Are we starting to get the picture here? Nova is unspectacular, but that doesn't much matter. The game Saturday night was simply a microcosm for his entire 2011 season. He took the ball, threw his six good innings and when the Tigers started to make a run, Mariano Rivera came out of the bullpen and closed the door. During that time period, the offense scored nine runs.

That's a formula for winning lots of series. Maybe even the World Series.

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:32 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:53 am

Instant Reaction: Yankees 9, Tigers 3

By Matt Snyder

New York 9, Tigers 3

WP: Ivan Nova

LP: Doug Fister

HR: Delmon Young, Robinson Cano

Series: Yankees lead 1-0

Hero: Robinson Cano got the scoring started -- at least during the Saturday portion of the game -- with an RBI double in the fifth. He then put the game out of reach with a grand slam in the sixth, making the score 8-1. He then added another RBI double for good measure. Cano was actually just a few inches from having two home runs and seven RBI in the game. He'll settle for 3-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and six RBI (which tied the all-time Yankees postseason record for RBI in a single game). Give Nova lots of credit for his outing -- at least the first six innings of it -- but Cano was the star Saturday night.

Goat: You can place blame any number of places here. Fister completely fell apart after a great start, the offense didn't really get much going, getting Alex Avila thrown out at home took away the chance for a big inning in the fifth and Jim Leyland elected to use right-handed Al Alburquerque against left-hander Cano. Let's immediately absolve Leyland, because Cano's line against righties (.296/.347/.537) isn't too different than his line against lefties (.314/.354/.525). He hits everyone and Alburquerque had been great all season, so there's no way to blame Leyland for the move. The biggest problem for Detroit was how quickly Fister's outing went south. He balked runners to second and third in his first inning, but worked out of it and then settled in. He just didn't settle in long enough. Getting 4 2/3 innings with seven hits and six earned runs wasn't exactly what the Tigers needed out of Fister to win this game.

Next: 10/2 at New York, 3:07 p.m. ET on TNT. Max Scherzer (15-9, 4.43) vs. Freddy Garcia (12-8, 3.62)

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

Video: Cano discusses his six-RBI night.

Video: Leyland on the Game 1 loss.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:47 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:49 pm

Shields implodes in fourth as Rays fall


By Evan Brunell

James Shields was among the best pitchers in baseball all year, and entered Saturday having posted a 2.82 ERA on the season. He also had the honor of being the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1992 to record 11 complete games and four shutouts in a season, but it was all for naught on Saturday. Shields was rocked for seven runs in five-plus innings, with the big blow coming in a five-run fourth.

Shields was spot-on for much of the game, whiffing six batters in all and issuing zero walks, but imploded in the fourth inning, which was complicated by home plate umpire Kerwin Danley's blown call. Danley wasn't biting on calling the low strike, which led to some close calls and forced Shields to elevate his pitches right into the heart of the strike zone. But he began the fourth with a surprising loss of control, plunking Elvis Andrus with a pitch.

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Josh Hamilton and Michael Young then both singled to load the bases. Shields then plunked yet another batter, this time Adrian Beltre. That forced in a run and got Rangers fans going, who had so far been silenced by Shields and staring at a 3-0 hole after Derek Holland began the game with his own jitters. Shields was able to strike out Nelson Cruz, but then came the blown call by Kerwin Danley, which was enough to land Danley as the goat of the game. David Murphy hit a ball straight down at home plate and Danley called it foul before the play was even over. The ball bounced fair, allowing Kelly Shoppach to pounce on it and throw Murphy out.. except the play had already been ruled dead. Murphy went on to strike out, but it was in the process of Shields throwing a wild pitch, so Murphy reached while Beltre scored. A RBI groundout by Mitch Moreland followed before Shields finally got to walk off the mound after inducing a flyout by Ian Kinsler.

It looked like Shields was getting back on track with a clean fifth inning, but two consecutive singles to open the inning sent Shields to the showers. Texas would go on to score twice in the inning, both runs charged to the righty. It was certainly a surprising performance by Shields, who began the game crisp but later unraveled at the seams.

Shields has been here before. Last season, he faced the Rangers in Game 2 of the ALDS as well, and served up four runs in 4 1/3 innings. In that game, Shields' big inning came in the fifth when he allowed a three-run homer to Michael Young and later an Ian Kinsler RBI grounder before his night ended.

Shields lasted longer than he did in 2010, but unfortunately the end result was the same: An ALDS Game 2 loss.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:36 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:19 am

Instant Reaction: Rangers 8, Rays 6

By Evan Brunell

ALDS Game 2: Rangers 8, Rays 6

WP: Derek Holland

LP: James Shields

S: Neftali Feliz

HR: TB - Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce | TEX - Mitch Moreland

Series: Rays 1, Rangers 1 in best-of-5

Hero: It was a rather balanced offensive attack for the Rangers, but Mitch Moreland deserves the honors here. Texas jumped out ahead thanks to a five-run fourth inning and looked to be wrapping up the game in the seventh, ahead by a 7-3 score. However, Evan Longoria changed things by blasting a three-run homer and pulling Tampa Bay within one. It was a tight ballgame again, but Moreland brought down the anxiety level in Texas by cranking a homer for a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Moreland also had a RBI groundout to cap the scoring in the fourth and ended the night with two RBI.

Goat: Home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley may have changed the outcome of the game and series as a whole when he jumped the gun in the fourth inning. With James Shields struggling, two runs in and runners on second and third, the righty really needed an out to stamp out the fire. He almost registered the second out of the inning when Kelly Shoppach pounced on a dribbler in front of home plate and easily threw out David Murphy -- or he would have, had Danley not called the ball foul already. The ball had come off the bat straight down in foul territory but bounced into fair territory, which means it should have counted. Murphy would go on to strike out, but reached on a wild pitch that scored another run. One more would cross before it was all over, and the Rangers' five-run inning set the tone for the rest of the game. No one's saying the Rays would have won without that miscue -- after all, the game was tied at that point and Shields was imploding -- but to make that kind of error with the stakes as high as they are is inexcusable. An extra couple seconds would have made the difference. You don't need to call a ball foul that fast, especially when it's at home plate. Most umpires -- most competent ones -- move out from their stance and attempt to get a visual on the ball from the side before calling it fair or foul. Danley just didn't bother.

Update: Joe Maddon reported that Danley's case was that Murphy's bat hit the ball a second time. (@jasoncollette)

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Rangers-Rays series | 2011 playoffs

Video: Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli talk about the win

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:47 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:25 am

Cano's near-homer breaks up pitcher's duel

By Matt Snyder

Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees was supposed to be a matchup of aces; a pitcher's duel for the ages. It was set to showcase a pair of Cy Young candidates. And then Mother Nature intervened and we had to re-start Game 1 Saturday in the bottom of the second inning.

Early on, it looked like we'd get that pitcher's duel anyway, only this time it would be courtesy of Ivan Nova and Doug Fister.

Through five, Nova has thrown three shutout innings, allowing two hits and no runs. Sure, he was helped by a nice relay from Curtis Granderson to Derek Jeter to Russell Martin to nail Alex Avila at home plate, but no runs have scored, so that's the bottom line.

Fister, meanwhile, had been even better. He'd thrown three shutout innings, having allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking none. But a Curtis Granderson single and a near-home run from Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead through five innings. The ball bounced right off the top of the wall in left-center field and came back into play. Two fans in the direct line of the ball even backed away and let the play run its course. The umpires used the replay review system and determined the call of no home run on the field would stand. Alex Rodriguez then flew out to end the inning, but the Yankees had notched an advantage.

Still, both offenses appear to be getting settled in. This thing is far from over.

Click here to follow the action live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 4:31 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 10:46 pm

ALDS Game 2: Rangers play catch-up against Rays


By Evan Brunell

Rays at Rangers, 7:07 p.m. ET, Rangers Ballpark, TNT

Rays Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Desmond Jennings LF 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 B.J. Upton  CF 2 Elvis Andrus  SS
3 Evan Longoria  3B 3 Josh Hamilton  CF
4 Ben Zobrist  2B 4 Michael Young  DH
5 Johnny Damon  DH 5 Adrian Beltre  3B
6 Kelly Shoppach  C 6 Mike Napoli  C
7 Sean Rodriguez  SS 7 Nelson Cruz  RF
8 Casey Kotchman  1B 8 David Murphy  LF
9 Matt Joyce  RF 9 Mitch Moreland 1B

James Shields RHP
Derek Holland LHP


Shields vs. Rangers: Shields' calling card this year has been an innate ability to complete games, shutting the door a league-leading 11 times. One of those complete games came against Texas, fresh off facing the club five days prior and going eight strong with no runs allowed. In the complete game on Sept. 5, he allowed just one run. So that's one run in 17 innings, striking out 13. Not shabby at all. All year long, Texas has tested the patience of left-handed pitchers, but are more vulnerable against righties. To that end, Murphy and Moreland, who don't play against lefties, are in the lineup against Shields.

Holland vs. Rays: Holland closed the regular season in fine fashion, sporting a 2.77 ERA over his final 16 starts. Unfortunately, his time against the Rays left much to be desired, giving up eight runs in 12 1/3 innings, walking six. The bright spot? He whiffed 16. In his most recent start against Tampa, Holland allowed four runs (three earned) in 6 2/3 innings, setting down nine Rays by way of the K. Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist have raked the left-hander over the coals the last three years.


Full Playoff Coverage
  • Manager Ron Washington wouldn't commit to starting Moreland against right-handed pitchers, but has slotted him into the lineup. Unfortunately for Moreland, he's only collected one hit in 11 career at-bats against Shields, striking out four times.
  • Kelly Shoppach's two homers and five RBI in Game 1 put him in exalted company. Only one other catcher has notched at least two blasts and 5 RBI in a postseason game, Johnny Bench of the Reds accomplishing the feat in Game 4 of the 1976 World Series. (Elias Sports Bureau)
  • In the 2011 ALDS, the Rays fell to the Rangers in five games, with the visiting team winning each game, a record. The trend continued Friday when Tampa took Game 1 in Texas.
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com