Just like in the 2006 playoffs, the Detroit Tigers are headed to New York for a first-round matchup with the Yankees. The Tigers swept three against Cleveland to close the season and finished winners of four in a row, but it wasn’t enough to erase a one-game deficit on the Texas Rangers in the race for home-field advantage.
If Detroit’s season ends against the Yankees, the Tigers will no doubt look back on a pair of losses to Baltimore during the season’s final homestand — losses that enabled Texas to overtake Detroit in the AL standings.
Game 1 of the Tigers’ ALDS series against New York will take place Friday night, with first pitch set for 8:37 p.m. Game 2 will be Saturday — no start time has been announced for that one yet.
The Tigers will send 24-game winner Justin Verlander to the mound against lefty C.C. Sabathia in Game 1. Doug Fister will then start for Detroit in Game 2, likely against Ivan Nova. Detroit will use Max Scherzer and either Rick Porcello or Brad Penny to round out its rotation; New York will choose from A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.
Game 3 will be Monday in Detroit, followed Tuesday by Game 4 (if necessary). A decisive fifth game would be Thursday, Oct. 6, back in New York.
The other AL series will pit Texas against either the Red Sox or Rays, with the Rangers holding home field. If Boston and Tampa Bay finish Wednesday night tied, the two teams would have a one-game playoff Thursday in Tampa.
Detroit went 4-3 against New York this season, losing two of three in the first series of the season. Verlander and Sabathia met on Opening Day, with each pitcher giving up three runs in six innings and taking a no-decision.
With Sabathia on the mound Friday, the Tigers figure to use the lineup Jim Leyland’s often implemented against lefties: Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez, Delmon Young, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Santiago or Ryan Raburn, and Brandon Inge.