First off, my apologies for not getting this put up yesterday…Friday's crazy night of games burned me out and I didn't get much sleep going into Saturday morning.
But anyway. The Tigers and the Yankees, squaring off for a chance at the World Series. Both teams are coming off of grueling ALDS series, with the Tigers beating the A's and the Yankees beating the Orioles. Both teams got great pitching in the first round of the playoffs, though their strengths are different. Prior to a bad performance in game one by Derek Lowe and David Phelps, the Yankees got tremendous pitching out of their bullpen in the ALDS (coincidentally, Lowe didn't pitch at all in that series, and Phelps threw just 1 1/3 innings), while Detroit's bullpen immensely struggled against Oakland. Starting pitching was a strength for both clubs, but the Tigers were freakishly good in the first round.
Offensively, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder didn't do a ton for the Tigers in the ALDS, and they needed someone else to step up in the ALCS. Sure enough in game one, Delmon Young was the guy who stepped up, going 3/6 and driving in three of Detroit's six runs after Cabrera and Fielder set the table in front of him. Prior to the ALDS, I said that Alex Avila was the key player for Detroit throughout the series as a backup to Cabrera and Fielder, but Young stepping up works just as well for Detroit.
As for the Yankees, Derek Jeter's broken ankle puts them in a very tough position. Jeter and Ichiro were gelling very well at the top of the order and setting the table for the heart of the Yankees lineup, which has thusfar underproduced in the playoffs. With Jeter out, even more pressure will fall onto Ichiro and Jayson Nix, who is replacing Jeter as the shortstop for New York. If Nix struggles, that's not going to bode well for Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira in the middle of the lineup for the Yankees. Even with Jeter healthy though, neither player has been overly great. Cano is just 2/28 in the playoffs so far, and Teixiera has just one RBI and no extra base hits despite seven hits and seven walks.
The injury to Jeter has absolutely swung the momentum in this series towards the Tigers. Even with Raul Ibanez's continued heroics, the Yankees have scuffled on offense. This Tigers team doesn't have a middling offense like Baltimore, and the Yankees aren't going to be able to win by scoring three runs a game. Hiroki Kuroda is starting game two on Sunday on just three days rest, and if the Yankees fall down 2-0, Joe Girardi has said that he won't be starting CC Sabathia in game three on Tuesday on just three days rest to match up with Justin Verlander. New York losing game two today would probably signal an end to the series, especially considering how amazing Verlander was in the ALDS against the Athletics.