ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- So one of the keys to this crazy game is forgetting yesterday and zeroing in on today.
Yet as the New York Yankees work Thursday to prepare for the Detroit Tigers and Cy Young shoo-in Justin Verlander in Game 1 of an American League Divisional Series on Friday in Yankee Stadium, they can't help but look way back to March 31.
"It's funny how the season goes full circle," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said late Wednesday after the Yankees lost to Tampa Bay and learned first-round playoff matchups. "Opening Day, we played Detroit and it was Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, and now that's what it is to start the playoffs.
"It should be fun."
The Yankees on that afternoon prevented Verlander from obtaining one of what would be his 24 victories this season. The Detroit ace went six innings, allowed three earned runs, fanned eight, walked four and surrendered a Teixeira homer in a no-decision.
"Detroit's a great team," Teixeira said. "It doesn't matter who we play [first]. We have to beat all the best teams in the league. The Tigers, the Rangers ... we have to bring our 'A' game."
In what easily is the most intriguing first-round matchup, the Yankees may face the difficult task of getting Verlander twice in a short five-game series.
But they also are one of the few teams that can brag about cracking the Tigers with Verlander on the mound. After beating Detroit 6-3 on opening day, the Yankees faced him one other time -- and beat the Tigers again.
It was in Detroit on May 2, and they scored three runs in the first two innings against Verlander en route to a 5-3 victory. That day, they also scored three earned runs in six innings against Verlander, who, as he did on opening day, struck out eight and walked four.
Again, Verlander came away with a no-decision. But in the end, Detroit lost only nine games this season in which Verlander started -- and the Yankees handed the Tigers two of those.
Funny, Yankees slugger Robinson Cano did not remember facing Verlander after opening day this year and, as it turns out, with good reason. He was not in the lineup May 2.
"His stuff has always been the same," Cano said. "He throws hard, he's got good stuff. Friday starts the postseason, and you forget about the past."
Some of the Yankees already have.
"I don't pay any attention to that stuff," said outfielder Nick Swisher regarding New York's first-round draw. "We're going to beat 'em. Hands down.
"We're excited. We're ready. It's in our house. It's going to be fun, a lot of fun, man."