Hiroki Kuroda will start ALCS Game 2 on three days' rest
With no off day between series, one Yankees starter was going to be inconvenienced.
Joe Girardi decided it would be Hiroki Kuroda, tabbed to start ALCS Game 2 Sunday night on three days' rest.
"That way,'' Girardi said before ALCS Game 1 against the Tigers Saturday night, "Hughsie will be on normal rest and so will CC. Someone was possibly going to be off their normal rest. This way, it's only one guy.''
Kuroda has never started a major-league game on three days' rest.
Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte would be available on four days' rest for Game 5 on Thursday, if it's necessary, and Kuroda would come back on five days' rest for Game 6. Should a Game 7 be necessary, Girardi likely would bring back Sabathia on three days' rest.
Girardi elected not to bring back Sabathia on short rest for ALCS Game 3 after he threw 121 pitches in a grueling ALDS Game 5 Friday night. Sabathia pitched a complete game, giving him 172/3 innings and 241 pitches in two victorious ALDS starts.
"We thought about it, but you think about how hard he's worked these two starts,'' Girardi said. "And I just think I would rather have him in a Game 4 fully prepared than on short rest in Game 3.''
The Yankees failed to wrap up their ALDS in Game 4, which necessitated having to use Sabathia in Game 5 -- just as Leyland had to use Verlander in Game 5 against the A's after the Tigers failed to wrap up their ALDS in Game 4.
After the Yankees advanced with a 3-1 victory over the Orioles, Sabathia told reporters it will be difficult to sit on the bench and serve as a cheerleader in the first three ALCS games.
"It is always hard,'' he said. "I am more nervous watching the game than when I am out there. It is always tough. But when I get the ball, hopefully I get a chance to go out there and give us a chance to win. I mean, there is nothing you can do about that. I will be sitting out there rooting hard for everybody.''
Girardi clearly wasn't happy about the condensed schedule, made necessary by the extra wild card.
"We all knew that there were flaws in the system this year because TV was already set up and then they added the ,'' Girardi said. "You always have a day off between series and it's something that we've always done, and I really wish they would have found a way to adjust it.''
Girardi wouldn't go so far as to say it would be a handicap. "Only time will tell,'' he said. "I mean, you have to go out and win games anyway no matter what. But it always helps being able to rest your bullpen . . . but we do have home-field advantage, that's the good part. We're built for this park.''
Tigers manager Jim Leyland shrugged when asked about the altered postseason schedule.
"I don't worry about the small stuff. That's small stuff to me,'' he said. "At this time of year, if you are playing and you are complaining, there is something wrong with you. We are still playing and we are in the final four. It is what it is.''
Although Girardi wasn't thrilled at the prospect of Leyland's being able to use his ace before he gets to use his, he also took a realistic approach.
"There's nothing you can really do about it,'' Girardi said. "And the other guys were going to have to win games anyway, so let's go.''