Five questions heading into Game 5

New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez during a workout New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez during a workout at Yankee Stadium one day before the start of their American League Division Series. (Sept. 29, 2011) Photo Credit: Thomas A. Ferrara

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.

Here are five big questions heading into Thursday night's deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Tigers at Yankee Stadium:

Fan-demonium?

One of the supposed differences between old and new Yankee Stadium is the lack of passion from the home crowd, many of whom are believed to be drinking chardonnay and eating crab puffs in the exclusive clubs instead of hanging on every pitch. Well, this will be a good test of that theory because it's the first winner-take-all game in the stadium's three-year history. The Yankees were 52-29 at home during the regular season, tied for best in the AL with Texas.

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Super or suped-up Nova?

Rookie Ivan Nova has a reputation for being a cool customer. His performance in the resumption of Game 1 on Saturday proved he could handle that big stage. But what about Thursday night's bigger stage? He claims he won't be nervous. "If you get nervous, you're going to be in trouble," he said Wednesday.

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CC you later?

CC Sabathia blamed himself for the Yankees' defeat in Game 3 even though it was Rafael Soriano who gave up the go-ahead home run to Delmon Young. Sabathia's start was not very ace-like, though. Now he says he'll be available out of the bullpen Thursday night. If the Yankees win without using him, Sabathia would be lined up to start Game 1 of the ALCS against the Rangers on Saturday night. If Nova can get them through the fifth, the extremely rested David Robertson and Mariano Rivera could theoretically handle the last four innings themselves. That would be best for the Yankees' chances to not only win this round, but the next one, too -- to have Sabathia's redemption come as a starter, not an emergency reliever.

Cheers for A-Rod?

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There probably will be -- until he makes a big out. Yankees fans turned on Alex Rodriguez during Game 2, booing him for what seemed like the first time since before his monster postseason of 2009. Although his defense has been stellar, Rodriguez didn't get his first hit of the series until the late innings of Game 4. The Yankees aren't paying him $31 million to be a good-glove, no-hit third baseman. Their fans obviously feel the same way.

What inning will the rain delay be?

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Surprise! For once, there is no rain in the forecast for Game 5. So sit back, relax and try to enjoy what will either turn into a happy trip to the next round or a sad one home for Yankees fans. Either way, they won't get wet.

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