Sexy matchup on the mound for Yankees, Tigers

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Sexy matchup on the mound for Yankees, Tigers

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers are set to open the playoffs the same way they began the regular season: Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia. Game 1 of the AL division series offers about as good a postseason pitching matchup as you can get. "It's funny. The season has kind of gone full circle," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We started in March with Verlander and CC opening day and now the playoffs. It should be fun." Verlander, who went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, looms as one of the biggest first-round obstacles for the Yankees. Of course, the Yankees have an ace of their own in Sabathia, who goes against a Tigers lineup that carried Detroit to a 30-9 finish. The Yankees have been coasting since wrapping up the AL East. The last time these teams met in the playoffs -- the 2006 division series, which Detroit won 3-1 on its way to an AL pennant -- it was the Tigers who came in cold after losing their last five. This year, The Yankees finished by being swept in Tampa Bay and losing their last four. "A whole new season starts tomorrow for everybody," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. No more setting up rotations, no more bench players starting and no more protecting key relievers -- as Yankees manager Joe Girardi did by not using Mariano Rivera, David Robertson or Rafael Soriano against the Rays. Everything counts now. But first, maybe a little sleep would be good. The Yankees flew back from Tampa Bay after playing 12 innings in the regular season finale, a game the Rays won on Evan Longoria's homer that put them in the playoffs as the AL wild card. The Yankees watched the drama unfold and flew home for an all-too-early workout. "Man, I got home at 4:30. I don't even know what I'm saying right now," a bleary-eyed Derek Jeter said. "It's not fun yet." It should be soon enough with Sabathia and Verlander going up against two loaded lineups. "Hopefully, it's a good one," Sabathia said. "We've faced off a lot, me playing in that division for a long time. He's had one of the best seasons for a pitcher ever, I think." In Game 2, it's New York's Ivan Nova vs. Doug Fister, with Detroit's Max Scherzer and Freddy Garcia slated for Game 3. If there's a fourth game, Girardi plans to bring back Sabathia on short rest. Leyland has said he won't pitch Verlander on short rest in the first round, even if Detroit is facing elimination in Game 4. While most of the attention has been on Verlander, a near lock for the AL Cy Young and a strong candidate to be the first starting pitcher to win the AL MVP since Roger Clemens in 1986, Fister has been even better since the Tigers traded for him in July. Fister is 7-0 with a 0.65 ERA in his last eight outings. Fister, picked up in a six-player deal with Seattle on July 30, has gone 20 innings without walking a batter. He and Verlander are a combined 14-0 with a 1.61 ERA in 16 appearances since Aug. 16. Of course, Verlander has been doing it all year -- he's 22-2 since throwing a no-hitter against Toronto on May 7. "There's not really a chance to sit back and kind of let it soak in," Verlander said. "Once the last pitch is thrown -- hopefully, after we have won a World Series -- I can sit down and look back and enjoy it. For right now, I'm focused on Game 1." The Tigers also have some pop in their lineup. While not as daunting top to bottom in the order as New York, Detroit features AL batting champion Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. And catcher Alex Avila has been a revelation, with 19 homers and a .295 average. The Yankees, of course, have Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Teixeira slugging away at the heart of their order. A-Rod will hit behind Cano in the postseason, swapping their usual order from the regular season. And then there's former Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson, who had a career year with 41 homers. "I've seen his numbers, and they're amazing," Verlander said. Not that it will matter Friday night, when everyone's stats are reset to zero and what happens from then on is all that counts. It's almost here. "I'm not excited yet," Jeter said. "The excitement starts tomorrow."

Draymond hits personal reset button, sets tone in win over 76ers

Draymond hits personal reset button, sets tone in win over 76ers

In the hours before tipoff Monday night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr fielded questions about Draymond Green, who not only played well beneath his standard in the previous game but also exhibited a couple flashes of temper, including one directed at Kerr.

“He had one of those nights; it just wasn’t his night,” Kerr told reporters in Philadelphia. “Things didn’t go his way. He was frustrated. I’m very confident that tonight he’ll bounce back.”

Yes, he did. One game after allowing his emotions to undermine the best of his game, Green pushed his personal reset button and drove the Warriors to 119-108 victory over the 76ers.

It was a rather predictable performance insofar as Green generally responds to poor games by making a statement of his strength.Or, should we say, strengths.

Though the numbers -- 14 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, five steals, a plus-22 over 37 minutes -- tell a significant story, Green’s impact, as usual, extended beyond statistics. He set a strong positive tone, and when he does that it can offset subpar performances by his teammates.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can play,” Kerr said afterward. “So on a night like tonight, where Steph (Curry) doesn’t have it going, we’ve got plenty of other guys who can score and make plays and a lot of them came through.

“I thought Draymond was really the player of the game. He just brought incredible energy and set a good tone right from the beginning of the game.”

On a night when Stephen Curry’s shot abandoned him (0-of-11 from deep, 7-of-23 overall), Green scrambled to provide whatever was needed, when it was needed. He was particularly adept at setting his teammates, as evidenced by his game-high assists total.

“One guy can’t do it every night,” Green told reporters. “Two guys can’t do it every night. Sometimes, it’s got to be a complete team effort. Tonight, it was that.”

The Warriors shot 41.7 percent through the first three quarters and 44.9 for the game. The Sixers battled them to a virtual standoff on the glass. The Warriors got by mostly with free throws (33-of-39) and Green’s effort and smarts.

That Green is a difference-maker in unconventional ways, often beyond the box score, is what makes him unique.

And it’s what makes it easier to cope with those nights when he’s as much of a headache to his team as the opponent, as was the case Saturday, when was 1-of-10 from the field, had more turnovers (three) than assists (two) unleashed some frustrations.

“Draymond’s value to us is his defense and rebounding and basketball IQ and intensity,” Kerr said before the game. “His shot is going to come and go. He’s going to have games where he makes some threes. He’s going to have games where he doesn’t. But it really doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is everything else that he does for us. That’s where his real value comes in.”

Kerr clearly was confident that Green would revert to being his customary self. Green can create waves, which result in turbulence along the journey, but on the vast majority of occasions, he’s there for his teammates and his coaches.

 

Instant Replay: Second quarter kills Kings in loss to T'Wolves

Instant Replay: Second quarter kills Kings in loss to T'Wolves

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Adjusting to life without DeMarcus Cousins is proving more difficult than the Kings thought. For the second straight game, Sacramento struggled to score the ball, falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves by a final of 102-88 Monday night at Golden 1 Center.

Karl-Anthony Towns continued his strong play. The second-year big is quickly becoming one of the best bigs in the game and at age 21, the sky's the limit. Towns dropped in 29 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked three shots as the Timberwolves improved to 24-36 on the season.

Andrew Wiggins had a big night as well. He got off to a slow start, but once he started playing the passing lanes it opened up everything for Minnesota. The talented 22-year-old finished the night with 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting and added four steals.

Ricky Rubio chipped in nine points and dished out 11 assists. Nemanja Bjelica added 10 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

Kosta Koufos overpowered the Timberwolves in the post. The Kings starting center scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

Ben McLemore drew the tough assignment of guarding Wiggins and held his own early. But once the high-flying wing got going, McLemore had no answer. On the offensive end, he finished the night with 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting.

Willie Cauley-Stein scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists. Ty Lawson went for 11 points and nine assists, while Tyreke Evans picked it up late, scoring 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Wiggins and Towns put on a show. Give these two a couple of seasons and they might be the best duo in the game.

TURNING POINT:
The Kings looked completely lost in the second quarter and the Timberwolves ran them off the floor. After a competitive first 12 minutes of action, Minnesota outscored Sacramento 40-19 in the quarter to take a 60-44 lead into the intermission. Game over.

INJURY UPDATE:
Arron Afflalo missed his third straight game with a sore hamstring. Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson sat again with varying degrees of hamstring issues. Temple is out for another few games with a left hamstring tear and rookie Richardson is out 4-6 weeks with a right hamstring thickness tear, but hopes to return before the season is finished. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings continue their homestand Wednesday when the Brooklyn Nets swing by Golden 1 Center.