Aces Focus on Batters, Not Each Other

Aces Focus on Batters, Not Each Other

Heavyweight boxers trade punches, tennis players exchange ground strokes and basketball players go one on one. In baseball, the direct confrontations are usually between two distinct groups: hitters and pitchers.

And yet, the opening game of the American League division series Friday at Yankee Stadium is billed as a duel between the Yankees’ seasoned pitching ace, C. C. Sabathia, and his younger, luminous counterpart from the Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander.

The two will not go head to head in any tangible way; they should never be on the field at the same time unless one is slow to leave at the end of an inning while the other is quick to exit the dugout. But Sabathia versus Verlander is the calling-card matchup for the series and one viewed as the earliest possible turning point.

“Two premier pitchers on a very big stage,” Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said Thursday before Detroit’s rain-shortened workout at Yankee Stadium. “In most cases in the postseason, you’re going to see a good pitcher every night. And the whole world is going to see two of the best tomorrow. You can’t ask for more than that.”

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