Sports

Young’s Blast Puts Yanks’ Season on Brink

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New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia walks off the mound after being replaced during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's American League division series on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in Detroit. At left is manager Joe Girardi. The Tigers defeated the New York Yankees 5-4. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia walks off the mound after being replaced during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball’s American League division series on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in Detroit. At left is manager Joe Girardi. The Tigers defeated the New York Yankees 5-4. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer

DETROIT (AP) _ CC Sabathia’s wild night has the New York Yankees
on the brink of elimination.

Sabathia matched his playoff high with six walks and Derek Jeter
struck out with two runners on for the final out in the Yankees’
5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday night that put New York in
a 2-1 hole in the best-of-five AL division series.

Now, the AL East champions are counting on a shaky A.J. Burnett
in Game 4 at Comerica Park on Tuesday night. Burnett, who was 11-11
with a 5.15 ERA in the regular season, was pushed into a postseason
start only because Sabathia’s start in Game 1 was suspended because
of rain.

“I feel good about what A.J. is going to do for us tomorrow,”
manager Joe Girardi said.

Sabathia was given an early 2-0 lead but fell short in the
matchup of aces, part 2.

New York scored two runs in the first against Justin Verlander
before the MVP candidate shut out the potent lineup over the next
five innings with 100 mph fastballs and knee-buckling breaking
pitches.

The Yankees mounted a rally for the second straight game against
closer Jose Valverde in the ninth and fell short. On Sunday,
Robinson Cano grounded out with runners on first and second to end
the loss.

This time Jeter struck out with two on, and the captain walked
away from home plate shaking his head.

“I feel good about Jeter whenever he’s up there in those
situations because he’s been there so many times,” Girardi said.

A banged-up Alex Rodriguez was no match for Verlander.

A-Rod grounded out to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the first,
but finished 0 for 2 with two walks and fell to 0 for 10 in the
series. The three-time MVP, nagged by knee and thumb injuries,
barely hit better than .200 during the final three months of the
regular season.

Girardi has said he will not change his lineup. Anyway, it’s
unlikely he would do what his predecessor, Joe Torre, did against
Detroit in Game 4 of the 2006 ALDS. Torre dropped the slumping star
to eighth in the lineup.

Rodriguez was given the green light to swing on a 3-0 pitch from
Verlander in the eighth and weakly hit a foul into the seats behind
him, then swung and missed on the next pitch, fouled off a pitch
that whizzed by at 101 mph before wisely taking a high and inside
pitch to draw a walk.

Mark Teixeira also has struggled. He was 0 for 4 Monday and is 1
for 11 in the series.

Free passes were what doomed Sabathia’s night.

Sabathia didn’t take the loss _ Rafael Soriano did after giving
up a solo homer to Delmon Young in the seventh _ but the
$161-million ace struggled to get the ball over the plate.

He lasted just 5 1-3 innings and gave up six walks _ one
intentional _ seven hits, four runs and just three strikeouts. He
also had one wild pitch and many more that were in the dirt or way
off target.

“I actually thought he made a lot of good pitches tonight and I
thought the zone was a small zone tonight. No disrespect to anyone,
but that’s what I thought,” Girardi said. “That’s what I saw.”

The last time Sabathia, who can opt out of his contract after
this season, was that wild in the playoffs was Oct. 4, 2007, when
he was pitching for the Cleveland Indians against the Yankees.

Sabathia’s control was so out of whack that he struggled to
connect with catcher Russell Martin on one of his intentional-walk
tosses.

The Yankees were planning on their ace pitching Game 1 and Game
4, if it was necessary, but rain suspended his first start after 11/2
innings.

Plan B puts Burnett on the mound and no one rooting for New York
is excited about that.

Burnett signed a four-year, $82.5 million contract during the
Yankees’ blockbuster offseason in which they spent $423.5 million
two years ago to add him, Sabathia and Mark Teixeira.

The right-hander hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain, but
he has a chance to provide an instant dividend if he can help the
Yankees avoid getting eliminated in the Motor City.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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