2012 ALCS Preview: New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers
After each team defeated upstart opponents in the division series, the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers advanced to the best-of-seven American League Championship Series. Game 1 is set for Saturday night, as Detroit's Doug Fister opposes New York's Andy Pettitte at Yankee Stadium. Here's a preview of the 2012 ALCS:
The Yankees won six of 10 games against Detroit in the regular season. The Tigers last appeared in the ALCS in 2011, losing to the Rangers four games to two. New York's last ALCS appearance was in 2010, when they also lost to Texas four games to two. Detroit defeated New York in the 2006 and 2011 ALDS.
New York Yankees
Why They'll Win:
Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki: The Yankees' batting order begins with arguably the two most savvy baseball players of the past 20 years. These two veteran hitters can be counted on to increase pitch counts, get on-base and make smart decisions on the base paths and in the field.
Home Runs: The Yankees led the majors in home runs in the regular season with 245. While their pace was slowed in the ALDS by the cold October nights and Orioles' pitching, New York's batting order has five players with 20-plus home run power — not including Alex Rodriguez or Raul Ibanez.
Yankee Stadium: With the best record in the American League, the Yankees assured themselves of home-field advantage through the AL playoffs. New York is 93-0 when leading after eight innings at home in the postseason. Many visiting relief pitchers and players wilt when the Bronx Bombers rally and the crowd begins to roar.
Why They Won't:
The Bullpen: Yankees' manager Joe Girardi pushed his starters deep into games in the ALDS. While the strategy worked on the struggling Orioles' bats, the Tigers may work pitch counts better. Can the inconsistent Yankees' bullpen preserve leads until it's time for closer Rafael Soriano?
Why They'll Win:
Starting Pitching: Starters Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were 1-2 in the American League in strikeouts in 2012 and both placed in the top 15 in ERA. Game 1 starter Doug Fister helped put the Yankees away in Game 5 of last year's ALDS.
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder: Cabrera and Fielder combined for eight homers and 18 RBIs against the Yankees in the regular season. The Tigers' sluggers adapt their approach to fit the situation, which could be a challenge for the New York bullpen late in games.
Jim Leyland: Detroit's wily manager helped his team beat the Yankees in the ALDS in 2006 and 2011. Leyland uses his bullpen and bench as well as any manager in the game.
Why They Won't:
Defense: Detroit's defense can be suspect at times with a -28.5 ultimate zone rating (UZR) that was next-to-last in the AL in the regular season. If the Tigers give New York extra outs or slip up on routine plays, the Yankees may capitalize with runs.
Game 1: Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. (ET) at Yankee Stadium
Game 2: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. (ET) at Yankee Stadium
Game 3: Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. (ET) at Comerica Park
Game 4: Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. (ET) at Comerica Park
Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. (ET) at Comerica Park *
Game 6: Saturday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. (ET) at Yankee Stadium *
Game 7: Sunday, Oct. 21 TBD at Yankee Stadium *
* If necessary