Verlander was made available to again face Sabathia in what now may be a critical Game 3 at Comerica because of Friday night's rainout and suspension of Game 1 at Yankee Stadium. Verlander pitched one inning and threw 25 pitches. Sabathia worked two innings and expended 27 pitches. Doug Fister and Ivan Nova replaced them when Game 1 resumed on Saturday night and the Yankees won, 9-3.
The open question right now is how effective either ace pitcher will be after having to rev it up again three nights later.
"I can't really explain how it's going to be because I haven't made my start yet," Verlander said prior to Sunday's game. "I would think it might be a little bit easier than you might expect because I've gone through all the preparations once already."
The rain situation set up a four-day run of games on four successive days. In 2006, the Yankees had a similarly big, 8-4, win in Game 1 at the old Yankee Stadium and Game 2 was pushed back a day because of rain. That set up three games on successive days in the two cities. The Tigers came from behind to defeat the Yankees, 4-3, in Game 2, the tightest game of the series.
A rookie named Verlander happened to be the starter in that game, but he lasted only 5 1/3 innings. This year he was 24-5 and is everyone's consensus pick to win the AL's Cy Young Award.
What to do against Verlander?
"Swing and miss at the third strike, hope it skips to the backstop and run to first," quipped Yankees shortstop and captain Derek Jeter, who did just that leading off against Verlander on Friday night. "That's what I've learned."
"Verlander, he's arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this entire year," added Jeter, who, of course, was on that Yankees team that lost to the Tigers five years ago. "It's going to be a challenge for us. It's going to be tough."
In 2006, the Yankees lost the final two games of the series by a combined score of 14-3. The Tigers went on to sweep the A's in the AL Championship Series and lost to the Cardinals in five World Series games.
It's projected to be 50 degrees and partly cloudy in downtown Detroit on Monday night. At Yankee Stadium on Sunday, rain came in droves twice late in the game, but the umpires decided to play through. The game ended with Jose Valverde on the mound, two Yankee runs in, two runners on, two out and the winning run at the plate in the presence of Robinson Cano, who bounced out to second baseman Ramon Santiago.
"It's the same thing that happened the last time," Santiago said. "Hopefully it's good luck. We go home now with our ace on the mound, on our home court."
"Maybe history will repeat itself," added right fielder Magglio Ordonez, who also played for that Tigers team.
Just like 2006, the split of the first two games gave the Tigers life.