TIGERS' PROJECTED LINEUP
* Keys to the series: Starter Nate Robertson flashed front-of-the-rotation stuff for most of September and must do the same in a Game 1 matchup against the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang. Rookie Justin Verlander's fastball approaches 100 mph and could present a challenge for the Yankees. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez will be crucial for his bat, leadership and steadying influence on a pitching staff that is mostly new to postseason play. Rodriguez helped lead another wild-card team -- the Florida Marlins -- to an unexpected World Series title in 2003. Outclassed at most positions, the Tigers must receive step-up performances from a bullpen that features closer Todd Jones and hard-throwing setup man Joel Zumaya.
*--* P Player AVG HR RBI 2B Placido Polanco 295 4 52 LF Craig Monroe 255 28 92 1B Sean Casey 272 8 59 RF Magglio Ordonez 298 24 104 SS Carlos Guillen 320 19 85 C Ivan Rodriguez 300 13 69 CF Curtis Granderson 260 19 68 3B Brandon Inge 253 27 83 DH Omar Infante 277 4 25
YANKEES' PROJECTED LINEUP
*--* P Player AVG HR RBI CF Johnny Damon 285 24 80 SS Derek Jeter 343 14 97 RF Bobby Abreu 297 15 107 1B Gary Sheffield 298 6 25 DH Jason Giambi 253 37 113 3B Alex Rodriguez 290 35 121 LF Hideki Matsui 302 8 29 C Jorge Posada 277 23 93 2B Robinson Cano 342 15 78
* Keys to the series: The Yankees' fortunes could hinge in part on the herniated disk of Randy Johnson, which may or may not prevent the left-hander from starting Game 3. Should Johnson be unable to pitch, New York would turn to Jaret Wright or Cory Lidle. The Yankees offense figures to be formidable now that previously injured Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui are back in the fold, with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter continuing to make up one of the most formidable duos ever on the left side of the infield. Manager Joe Torre has said he will confine closer Mariano Rivera to the ninth inning, meaning that any sticky eighth-inning situations could be troublesome.
\o7Best-of-five division series (all times Pacific)\f7
* TONIGHT -- Detroit (Robertson 13-13) at New York (Wang 19-6), 5:15, Ch. 11
* WEDNESDAY -- Detroit (Verlander 17-9) at New York (Mussina 15-7), 5, ESPN
* FRIDAY -- New York at Detroit, 5, ESPN
* SATURDAY -- New York at Detroit, TBA, if necessary
* SUNDAY -- Detroit at New York, TBA, if necessary