Twins win to face Yanks Wednesday
Burnett to pitch Game 2 after Sabathia; Pettitte up for Game 3
NEW YORK -- The Yankees confirmed the expected on Tuesday, selecting the option of an eight-day schedule for the American League Division Series. With that long-awaited decision, the dates and times of the four 2009 Major League Baseball playoff series have now been finalized; New York will open ALDS play against the Twins in the Bronx on Wednesday night at 6:07 ET on TBS.
Minnesota's 6-5 win over Detroit in 12 innings on Tuesday night sealed its trip to the postseason.
By virtue of owning the best record in the AL, the Yankees were given the choice between a seven-day and eight-day schedule for the first round, with a decision due one hour after their opponent was decided.
By selecting the longer ALDS, the Yankees have the option of using only three starting pitchers in the series. CC Sabathia has been named as New York's Game 1 starter, and manager Joe Girardi tabbed A.J. Burnett for Game 2, saving Andy Pettitte for Game 3.
Though the Yankees did not know at the time which team they would play in the first round, waiting on the outcome of the tiebreaker game in Minneapolis, there was nothing precluding the club from announcing its decision earlier.
"We just wanted to make sure that everyone was healthy," Girardi said. "And everyone is good."
After Wednesday's opener, New York's march toward a possible 27th World Series title will continue with Game 2 on Friday at 6:07 p.m. -- following Thursday's off-day.
The seven-day "B" ALDS schedule thus falls to the Angels and Red Sox, with the Halos hosting Game 1 on Thursday and Game 2 on Friday. Game 3 will be played at Fenway Park on Sunday, followed by Game 4 on Monday, if necessary. A potential Game 5 would be played on Oct. 14 in Anaheim.
In the National League Division Series, the Phillies open on Wednesday afternoon, hosting the Rockies, before playing Game 2 on Thursday afternoon. The series shifts to Coors Field on Saturday evening, and -- if necessary -- Game 4 would be played on Sunday. A potential Game 5 would be played next Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Dodgers will open the "B" NLDS by hosting the Cardinals on Wednesday and Thursday. Game 3 will be played on Saturday in St. Louis, and Game 4 would also be played at Busch Stadium. If needed, the potential Game 5 would be played next Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.
Choosing the shorter "Series B" would have done little more than inconvenience the Red Sox and Angels, both of whom have fresh pitching staffs and No. 1 starters ready to throw in Game 1.
Doing so also would have eliminated whatever advantage the Yankees have gained by forcing the Twins to fly to New York directly after Tuesday night's tiebreaker, thus playing Game 1 on short rest. It would have also allowed the Tigers to reset their rotation, stripping the Yankees of yet another advantage they have gained in recent days.
"We're playing tomorrow," closer Mariano Rivera said on Tuesday afternoon. "For sure. Everything else is off the table. That's what it is."
The longer schedule allows Girardi to start Sabathia on regular rest for Game 4, thus bypassing Joba Chamberlain, who could now pitch in relief or be left off the roster altogether.
"With the longer series, the extra day off, you can use your bullpen pretty much every day," Girardi said. "Every guy, every day. Our bullpen has been a strength of ours, and that's something we're definitely going to consider. You can also think about taking one less pitcher."
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez said there was no reason to root for Detroit or Minnesota, one way or the other. The Yankees have taken care of their end of business in securing home-field advantage, and they have had plenty of time to be prepared.
"We'll be watching after practice," Rodriguez said. "It should be interesting. Like I've said, be careful what you ask for. I think we're going to be ready to play no matter who it is."
New York holds home-field advantage throughout the postseason, and all ALDS games will be televised on TBS.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.