News and notes from around the playoffs:
- With their season on the line, the Yankees turn to right-hander A.J. Burnett tonight in Detroit -- and that noise you hear is the collective sound of Yankee fans recoiling in horror. The Tigers give the ball to Rick Porcello tonight, but the bigger concern might be at the back of the pitching staff: Jose Valverde worked his second-straight tense ninth inning last night, giving up a couple of walks before he fanned Derek Jeter to end the game. That outing came a night after Valverde needed 34 pitches to close out the Yanks in game two, but Valverde says he'll be ready to go if the Tigers need him tonight.
- Tampa is also sitting on the brink of elimination after last night's 4-3 loss to the Rangers, and the Rays' inability to control Texas' running game is one of the reasons the Rays have their backs against the wall. In the other dugout: Texas right-hander Colby Lewis, who struggled through an up-and-down 2011, continued his postseason brilliance, working six innings of one-hit ball as the Rangers grabbed a pivotal win in game three.
- St. Louis managed to split the first two games of its NLDS series in Philadelphia without significant contributions from outfielder Matt Holliday, who's still dealing with a painful injury to his right hand that's limited him -- and will continue to limit him -- to pinch-hitting duty. Meanwhile, Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, who's limped to an 0-for-8 performance in the first two games of the NLDS, is still feeling the effects of a sports hernia which knocked him out of action in August.
- What I billed yesterday as the pitching matchup of the playoffs didn't come to fruition: CC Sabathia didn't look quite right yesterday pitching on two days' rest, as the big lefty lasted just 5.1 innings in a 5-4 loss to Detroit. Sabathia gave up seven hits, four earned runs, and a whopping six walks in his 106-pitch outing, and he gave away an early 2-0 New York lead in the third inning: Ramon Santiago singled in Brandon Inge for the Tigers' first run, and Miggy Cabrera grounded into a DP to account for the second. Detroit added one more in the fifth on Santiago's double and chased Sabathia in the sixth on Jhonny Peralta's RBI double. Justin Verlander, meanwhile, wasn't his usual self, either, but he managed to last eight innings -- and was still pumping 100-mph fastballs down the pipe in his last inning -- giving up four runs on six hits and three walks while fanning 11. Brett Gardner tied the game at 4 with a 2-RBI double in the seventh, but Detroit reclaimed a one-run advantage on Delmon Young's solo homer in the eighth. The Tigers then survived another white-knuckle save from Jose Valverde, who struck out Deter Jeter with men at first and second to finish the game off.
- Tampa was cruising into the seventh inning of its ALDS game with Texas with a 1-0 lead, but David Price and Co. hit a major oil slick in the top of seven: Mike Napoli hammered a two-run homer off Price field to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead, and Josh Hamilton ran that advantage to three runs by lacing a two-run single off of J.P. Howell, who was ushered off the field to a chorus of boos. (He's apparently not well liked in Tampa. With a 6.16 ERA on the year, I can see why.) Tampa rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh on Sean Rodriguez's RBI groundout and pulled within one on Desmond Jennings' solo homer in the eighth (Jennings' second homer of the game), but Neftali Feliz slammed the door in the ninth inning, getting Kelly Shoppach to ground into a game-ending double play with one on and one down in the ninth.
The division series standings:
- Detroit 2, New York 1.
- Texas 2, Tampa 1.
- Milwaukee 2, Arizona 0.
- St. Louis 1, Philadelphia 1.
On tap for today:
Rangers @ Rays: Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Hellickson (13-10, 2.95) at 1:00 p.m. CDT (TBS)
Phillies @ Cardinals: Hamels (14-9, 2.79) vs. Garcia (13-7, 3.56) at 4:00 p.m. CDT (TBS)
Yankees @ Tigers: Burnett (11-11, 5.15) vs. Porcello (14-9, 4.75) at 7:30 p.m. CDT (TBS)
Brewers @ Diamondbacks: Marcum (13-7, 3.54) vs. Collmenter (10-10, 3.38) at 8:30 p.m. CDT (TNT)