Justin Verlander had no luck convincing Jim Leyland to let him pitch on Sunday.
“It went along the lines of, ‘Hey, Skip, I can go on Sunday,’” Verlander said. “‘No, you’re going on Monday.’ ‘Okay.’”
CC Sabathia had no more success convincing Joe Girardi.
“There was no conversation,” Sabathia said. “He told me I was pitching today. I think everybody knows, of course, if he would have asked me, I would have tried to persuade him to have me pitch today. But he just said flat out, ‘You are pitching on Monday.’ That’s what it is.”
When this division series started, it was the matchup of Sabathia and Verlander that stood out. With two of the top five pitchers in the American League going head-to-head, it seemed entirely possible that this series could hinge on which ace pitched the best. Now their impact is limited to one game, and it’s a big one.
“They’re all big games at this point in the season,” Sabathia said. “So I’ll try to go out and get off to a good start, pound the strike zone and hopefully pitch well… I felt like my fastball command was a lot better (on Friday). That’s something I had been struggling with the last month of the season. It was only two innings, but it was definitely a lot better than it had been.”
Neither Sabathia nor Verlander can seal the series, but they can put one team on the verge of clinching. Whoever wins tonight needs just one more victory to advance, and each team is pitching its very best.
“I think it’s going to be a big game no matter what, whether it’s Game 1 at Yankee Stadium or Game 3 in Detroit,” Verlander said. “Obviously there will probably be a little bit more publicity now for Game 3 because of what occurred and all the news that encompassed it with me and CC facing off again. Either way you look at it, it’s going to be a swing game.”
Said Sabathia: “I know the game plan. We went over it a couple of days ago. I’ll just try to go out and execute.”
Associated Press photos