This has been an odd series.
The Yankees arrived in Detroit on Ernie Harwell night with Sergio Mitre set to make a spot start for Andy Pettitte, who didn’t think he needed to be spotted for, then found out that the Tigers also had to use a replacement starter because Dontrelle Willis came down with the flu earlier that day. Mitre actually out-pitched the Tigers’ Brad Thomas, but because Jim Leyland took Thomas out after three innings and has one of the league’s best bullpens, and because A.J. Burnett burned the Yankees’ long-reliever on Sunday, Alfredo Aceves was out with a herniated disc (he’s since landed on the disabled list), and Javy Vazquez was set to pitch on Tuesday, potentially requiring long relief himself, Joe Girardi stuck with Mitre as long as he could (which turned out to be 4 1/3 innings), and the Yankees were unable to close the small deficit that resulted.
Then Tuesday got rained out, making all that bullpen-saving on Monday pointless. Then Vazquez pitched very well in the day half of Wednesday’s double-header, but New Jersey native Rick Porcello, who has been awful all year, combined with that bullpen to shut the Yankees out for the first time this season. Suddenly the Yankees had a three-game losing streak and had to scramble to split the series.
After the Tigers all gave each other mohawks during the down time between games, Phil Hughes dominated in the night-cap, handing a slim 2-0 lead to the Yankees end-game relievers, but with Mariano Rivera ready to pitch for the first time in nearly two weeks, the Yanks threw up a six-spot in the top of the ninth (Mo worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th anyway).
Mix in some end-of-the-roster transactions (hello Ivan Nova and Greg Golson, not so fast Jonathan Albaladejo, and now, finally, Juan Miranda, albeit at the expense of Kevin Russo), yet another minor injury (Nick Swisher left the late game on Wednesday with tightness in his left bicep and is day-to-day, Golson will start in his place today), and the chance of another rain out today, and this had been a very odd series.
If the rain holds off, we’ll be treated to the exciting pitching matchup of Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in last year’s Cy Young voting and had a pair of compelling duels against one another last year (which, fittingly, they split).
Of course, even if they get it in, it’s a mid-week day game which most folks will miss while at work.