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Richard Justice

Yanks face challenge of being first to draw Tigers' trio

New York to face Scherzer, Price, Verlander in important series at Yankee Stadium

Yanks face challenge of being first to draw Tigers' trio play video for Yanks face challenge of being first to draw Tigers' trio

BOSTON -- They make mistakes, too. You know, just like normal guys. Even with all that Cy Young Award hardware.

"You have to be ready when they make one," Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran said.

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Problem is, they don't make many of 'em.

"You don't really think ahead," Yankees third baseman Chase Headley said. "You focus on the game at hand."

Competitors love measuring themselves against the best of the best, and that's why it's going to be an interesting week at Yankee Stadium.

After last week's acquisition of David Price from the Rays, the Tigers are the first team in history to have their league's past three Cy Young Award winners on its roster.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski put one of the finishing touches on an amazing day of action on Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline by getting Price in a three-team, five-player swap with the Rays and Mariners.

Suddenly, a rotation that was already seen as one of baseball's best in 2014 began to look like one of the best ever.

And they'll be running them out there one after another beginning Monday. In order, it'll be Max Scherzer (2013) on Monday, Price (2012) on Tuesday and Justin Verlander (2011) on Wednesday.

The Yankees catch no break on Thursday afternoon when the Tigers hand the ball to Rick Porcello, who is 13-5 with a 3.18 ERA. He's tied with Scherzer for the most victories of the group. Only Price has a lower ERA (3.11).

In a season in which the Yankees have been tested again and again by injuries and some poor performances, the Tigers present a test of a different kind -- a Cy Young rotation.

"It would be great if we missed them, but we can't avoid them," Beltran said. "Their rotation is so good. They just have a good team. It's a challenge."

Anyone intimidated?

"I would say having a veteran team probably helps," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Girardi has a bunch of experienced hitters who have seen and done pretty much everything. Only they've never seen anything like this.

"Obviously, we have a lot of respect for those guys," Headley said. "You can't get caught up in what they've done in the past. We've just got to go out and have good at-bats each and every day. That's all you can handle."

The Yankees will counter with Brandon McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda, Chris Capuano and Shane Greene. Only Kuroda was with the Yankees on Opening Day. McCarthy, Capuano and Greene have made a total of 11 starts for their new team.

They've pitched well, going a combined 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA as the Yankees remain solidly in contention for a postseason berth.

"Guys have stepped in and given us great opportunities to win," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "This is what you need because every team is going to have injuries."

This week, the focus will be on the Tigers, and especially on Price, who will make his debut for for his new team on Tuesday night. He leads the Majors in strikeouts and innings. Scherzer is sixth in strikeouts.

Price is familiar to the Yankees, having started at Yankee Stadium twice this season already. He won both games, allowing two earned runs in 14 innings. However, he lost to the Yankees on April 17 at Tropicana Field.

His 23 career starts against the Yankees are three more than Verlander and Scherzer have between them. Scherzer has started just three games at Yankee Stadium, Verlander one.

Numbers aside, this is the group the Tigers put together to give the franchise its best chance to win the World Series. Detroit's last championship was in 1984.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge, individually and as a team," Headley said. "Anytime you face the best, it's a good measuring stick. You want to go out there and compete. That's what this game is about."

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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