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ALCS Gm4: CC looks ahead to taking mound in Game 4

DETROIT -- Thanks to Mother Nature's intervention on Wednesday, the Yankees stayed alive for another day.

The Tigers, meanwhile, are hoping a rain postponement doesn't tamper with their momentum in an American League Championship Series dominated by their pitching staff.

In Game 4 on Thursday (4 p.m. ET, TBS) at Comerica Park, the Yankees will do everything in their power -- something in short supply of late -- to avoid the embarrassment of the fourth postseason sweep in the franchise's storied history.

Detroit's Max Scherzer and New York ace CC Sabathia get an additional day of rest before matching fastballs and breaking balls.

If Scherzer gives up an earned run, he'll inflate the Detroit starters' collective ERA in this series. Through three games, with Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander vaporizing Yankees hitters, the figure is 0.42 -- lowest in history in any postseason series.

"They are going to come ready to attack me," Scherzer said, "so I have to be ready to attack them."

Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, who combined for 61 homers and 163 RBIs during the regular season, were out of the Yankees' lineup against Scherzer before the Game 4 rainout. In their roles were Eric Chavez and Brett Gardner, who produced 16 homers (all by Chavez) and 40 RBIs (three by Gardner) during the regular season. Gardner was limited to 31 at-bats by an elbow injury. Nick Swisher was back in right field after getting benched, along with Rodriguez, in Game 3.

Rodriguez said all the right things about pulling for the team and being ready for the call but left no doubt that he feels he should be in the lineup, especially after two quality at-bats to finish Game 2 in New York, a lineout and single.

"I've played this game for a long time," A-Rod said, "and bottom line is, anytime I'm in any lineup, I think that lineup is better. It has a better chance to win. I don't care if it's an All-Star Game. I feel I can bring that type of impact and I'm also at any point ready to break through.

"I thought my at-bats in some of those games got a little bit better. The last two [at-bats] I hit two rockets. Anytime I'm in the box the game can change, and everyone knows that."

Rodriguez, 37, has 66 more career homers (647) than Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera (321) and Prince Fielder (260) combined.

For only the fourth time, the Yanks are down three games to none in a postseason series.

Detroit, the AL Central champion, is one happy ending away from appearing in its first World Series since 2006, when the Tigers fell in five games to the Cardinals.

Teams leading 3-0 are 31-1 in postseason history. The lone exception is a painful 2004 memory for Yankees fans and the source of enduring joy for Red Sox faithful.

History offers their fans less comfort than the Yankees' disappearing offense. In those three previous postseason series in which they fell behind 3-0, they were swept -- by Frankie Frisch and the 1922 New York Giants, by Sandy Koufax and the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers and by Johnny Bench and the 1976 Cincinnati Reds.

No World Series team in 23 efforts has come from a 3-0 deficit to prevail, and it hasn't happened in five National League Championship Series. In ALCS play teams leading 3-0 are 3-1.

Following an emotional five-game conquest of the Orioles in the AL Division Series, while the Tigers were surviving a five-game series against Oakland, the Yankees appeared primed to face Detroit on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium. But a 6-4 loss in 12 innings -- with perennial All-Star and postseason star Derek Jeter fracturing his left ankle in the top of the 12th -- left the AL East champs in disarray.

Shut out in Game 2 by Sanchez and the Detroit bullpen, the Yankees came to the Motor City and avoided another shutout with a ninth-inning homer by Eduardo Nunez against Verlander in Game 3.

The Yankees are hitting .182 with five runs in three games -- all on the strength of home runs. They have scored in only two of 30 innings.

The only runs produced in the first two games came on ninth-inning two-run homers by Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez in Game 1.

"As cold as we are," Sabathia said, "we can get just as hot, especially with our lineup and the veterans we have and great players we have.

"We always have faith that if you gout and do your job, you are going to score runs. And we have all year."

From April through September, yes. But conditions in October have been frigid.

"Hopefully, we're going to come out loose [against Scherzer] and try to get one," Chavez said. "He's tough. What you don't want to do is expand the zone against him. His ball's a little different than Verlander's -- more deception and late run. The radar gun says 95, but that's where the comparison stops."

The Yankees no doubt are having serious regrets about losing Game 4 of the AL Division Series to the Orioles. It meant Sabathia, who would have been fresh for Game 1 of the ALCS, had to work the deciding Game 5 in New York. He dispatched Baltimore, but it made him unavailable for the first three games against the Tigers.

Sabathia has been close to as good as Verlander in this postseason. He worked 17 2/3 innings against the Orioles in taking Games 1 and 5, allowing three runs while striking out 16.

In 18 postseason appearances, 17 as a starter, Sabathia is 9-4 with a 4.25 ERA.

"He's our number one guy," Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. "He knows how to pitch in these games. We have to back him up with some runs."

The Tigers, with 11 runs in three games and a .259 team average, haven't exactly mauled Yankees pitching. Cabrera and Fielder have been kept in the park, but Delmon Young has homered twice, giving him five in his postseason career against New York.

Cabrera, with an RBI double in Game 3, is hitting .364 in the series. The Triple Crown winner extended his LCS hitting streak to all 16 games he has played, breaking a record he'd shared with Manny Ramirez and Pete Rose.

A World Series appearance would be the 11th in Tigers history. They have won four times, most recently in 1984 when they put away San Diego in five games. Comments