ARLINGTON, Texas — No more watching for Justin Verlander. The Tigers ace is back on his normal routine to start the AL Championship Series opener.
Verlander will pitch against defending AL champion Texas on regular rest tonight. It'll be the fifth day after his Game 3 start in the AL Division Series.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was steadfast in sticking with the decision not to use his 24-game winner in the 3-2 clincher of the ALDS against the Yankees on Thursday, even though Verlander volunteered to pitch.
"It was definitely a little odd situation we ran into. But that's behind us," Verlander said.
The Tigers now look to Verlander for an early boost in the ALCS, where Texas has homefield advantage for finishing one game better during the regular season. He is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three career starts at Rangers Ballpark. But he lost his only start against Texas this season, 2-0 with a complete game at home in April.
The Rangers, in their second consecutive ALCS after having never won a postseason series before last year, counter with C.J. Wilson. The left-hander won 16 games in the regular season, but he allowed eight runs (six earned) in five innings in losing the playoff opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 30.
"That particular game was my first bad game I had in a while. I had of lot of really good games leading up to the playoffs," Wilson said.
Tigers slugger Delmon Young offered few details about his oblique strain, saying only that he was going to try to play.
Yanks await Sabathia: As the Yankees absorb their early exit from the postseason, they must also ponder what CC Sabathia will do. He can opt out of his seven-year, $161 million contract by the third day after the end of the World Series. "I haven't made any decisions," he said Thursday. "I love it here."
Rays radio host exits: Pre- and postgame radio host Rich Herrera has resigned to pursue other opportunities, the team announced.
ALCS: Rangers vs. Tigers
Tonight, 8:05: Tigers (Verlander, 24-5, 2.40) at Rangers (Wilson, 16-7, 2.94) Sunday, 7:45: Tigers (Scherzer, 15-9, 4.43) at Rangers (Holland, 16-5, 3.95) Tuesday, 8:05: Rangers (Lewis, 14-10, 4.40) at Tigers (Fister, 11-13, 2.83) Wednesday, 4:19: Rangers (Harrison, 14-9, 3.39) at Tigers (Porcello, 14-9, 4.75) Thursday, 4:19: Rangers (TBA) at Tigers (TBA) * Oct. 15, 8:05: Tigers (TBA) at Rangers (TBA) * Oct. 16, 8:05: Tigers (TBA) at Rangers (TBA) *
* If necessary; all games on Ch. 13
Season series: Tigers won 6-3.
Players to watch: Rangers reliever-turned-starter Alexi Ogando, who was the starter and winner for all three victories against Detroit, will remain in the bullpen for the ALCS, as he was against the Rays for three scoreless appearances. … Rangers OF Josh Hamilton hit .298 with 25 homers — fifth on the team — and 94 RBIs. … Offensively, Detroit counters 1B Miguel Cabrera, who hit an AL-leading .344, with 30 homers and 105 RBIs. … Tigers closer Jose Valverde has 48 saves in 48 chances.