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MLB: Detroit has won 12 of its last 16 road games.
NCAAF: Utah State is 14-5-1 against the spread in its last 20 games as an underdog.
MLB: Tampa Bay is 2-6 in its last eight playoff games.
MLB: The New York Yankees have lost four in a row.
NCAAF: BYU is 5-15-1 against the spread in its last 21 games against WAC opponents.
1978 – The Utah State Aggies haven’t won at LaVell Edwards Stadium since 1978, a span of 15 consecutive games. The Aggies are 7.5-point road underdogs against BYU on Friday.
Injury that shouldn’t be overlooked
Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers - Martinez won't let a bruised toe keep him out of Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series against the New York Yankees on Friday. Martinez fouled a ball off his big right toe in Wednesday's season finale against the Cleveland Indians. The injury occurred in the first inning, and he was eventually lifted in the seventh. The team's medical staff had to drill into the nail of his big toe to drain it. Martinez hit .330 this season with 12 home runs and 103 RBIs in 540 at-bats.
Game of the day
Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees (-135, 7)
"This team never quits. We didn't quit when we were 0-6 at the start of the season, we didn't quit in September, we didn't quit when we were seven runs down in the last game of the season and Boston was winning. It looks like this team has what it takes." – Tampa Bay lefty David Price after his club bailed him out of Wednesday’s comeback win over the Yankees. Price allowed five earned runs and two homers over four innings before the Rays fought back to clinch a postseason berth with an 8-7 win in extras.
Notes and tips
The Tampa Bay Rays announced Thursday that rookie left-hander Matt Moore will start Game 1 of the American League division series against the Texas Rangers. The 22-year-old Moore will be making his second career start on Friday. He has pitched just 9 1/3 innings this season in the majors since being called up from the minors. In his first career start, Moore struck out 11 batters in five scoreless innings against the New York Yankees. Tampa Bay completed a remarkable comeback Wednesday to win the wild card, beating the Yankees on Evan Longoria’s home run in 12th inning. The Rays are +165 underdogs in Game 1.
Just three games into his Minnesota Vikings tenure, Donovan McNabb is already butting heads with the coaching staff. A report out of Minnesota suggests coaches have approached McNabb about correcting some mechanical issues related to his throwing arm. McNabb replied by saying there's nothing to fix, and that "some throws, you just miss." McNabb has completed just 58 per cent of his passes through the opening three games of the season, throwing for 478 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The Vikings (0-3) face Kansas City on Sunday.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez and catcher Jesus Montero are expected to be fine in time for the start of the American League Divisional Series between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. Rodriguez was given Wednesday's regular-season finale off to rest his surgically repaired right knee, which felt sore. Rodriguez said he simply didn't want to risk further injury playing on Tampa Bay's turf surface. The 36-year-old appeared in just 99 games this season due to injuries. He batted .276 with 16 homers and 62 RBIs in 373 at-bats. Montero took a foul ball off his fingers in Wednesday's loss to the Rays. X-rays came back negative and he's expected to assume the role of backup catcher against the Tigers. Montero, 21, had a sensational stint in his first taste of major-league action, hitting .351 with four homers and 12 RBIs in just 57 at-bats. The Yankees are set as -130 favorites for Game 1.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers vs. CC Sabathia New York Yankees
Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40 ERA)
This is Verlander’s first postseason start since 2006 and the fifth of his career. Times have definitely changed since the last time he climbed the mound in the playoffs. Back then, Verlander was just a fireballing rookie and his numbers show it.
He is 1-2 with a fat 5.82 ERA over 21 2/3 innings in the playoffs with 23 strikeouts to go against 10 walks. Batters hit him at a .292 clip and have five home runs against this season’s Cy Young frontrunner.
This season, Verlander went 24-5 with a career-best 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts compared to only 57 walks while holding hitters to a .192 batting average. He basically led the American League in just about every significant stat.
"This year I feel like I've just found myself to be more mentally prepared and physically prepared," Verlander told reporters. "The combination of that has led to what's going on now."
Detroit’s ace was roughed up for five runs and two homers in a 6-5 no-decision loss to Baltimore in his start of the regular season, which was the first time Detroit lost one of his starts since July 15.
CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00 ERA)
It’s no shock that Sabathia gets the nod to start Game 1; he has opened six series already in his career and has helped New York to a 7-1 record when he has climbed the hill for the Yanks.
He comes into this start well rested. The Yanks decided to make his Sept. 21 start against the Rays his last of the regular season to give him as much rest as possible. That decision denied him a shot at his 20th win, but should serve the Yanks well in the postseason, especially if Sabathia is needed on short rest. He threw 65 pitches in simulated start last Sunday just to keep him on his regular schedule.
“Just the normal way I would go about facing righties and lefties,” Sabathia told reporters. “Trying to pitch like I would pitch in a game.”
Last season the big lefty was 2-0 in three playoff starts, but his ERA ballooned to 5.63 and batters hit .333 against him with three homers over 16 innings of work. In his postseason career he is 7-4 with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.