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Chess Match: Girardi, Scioscia ride starters

Chess Match: Skippers ride starters

NEW YORK -- It was an entirely different Friday night for the two starting pitchers in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

For the Yankees, lefty CC Sabathia (eight innings, four hits, one run, seven strikeouts) looked nearly effortless in mowing through the Angels. Then there was John Lackey, who had to work for everything he got just to keep his team close in a game the Angels eventually lost, 4-1.

The performance of both starters left their respective managers with some interesting decisions to make as the game wore on.

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Going too long with Lackey?
The situation: When Melky Cabrera drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the sixth with the Yankees in possession of a 3-1 lead at the time, John Lackey had thrown 110 pitches and seemed to be tiring. Derek Jeter was up next.


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The decision: Instead of calling for reliever Jason Bulger, who had been warming up, Angels manager Mike Scioscia stuck with his ace to face the Yankees' captain. Jeter entered the game as a .341 hitter lifetime against Lackey and was 2-for-2 against Bulger.

The outcome: Lackey got himself in trouble by making an errant pickoff throw, allowing Cabrera to trek to second. That became even more painful for the Angels when Jeter belted an RBI single up the middle for an insurance run. Bulger then came in after the Jeter hit and got Johnny Damon on a lineout to left to end the inning. Lackey gave up nine hits and four runs -- just two earned -- over 5 2/3 innings. Of his 114 pitches, 65 were strikes.

The analysis: "You know, he got a fastball by Derek earlier in the game in a key situation," said Scioscia. "And, you know, I think with the defense -- the way we cracked the door open for him -- I thought he did as well as he could. It's a tough lineup when you have to throw more pitches, face extra hitters. And I thought John ... I really thought he pitched a good ballgame. One ball to Matsui he got up, he was trying to run a little sinker. I really thought John pitched much better than what any linescore is going to show.

Riding Sabathia

The situation: Through seven innings, Yankees ace CC Sabathia had a four-hit, one-run gem going, throwing 98 pitches. He was in possession of a 4-1 lead. Under normal circumstances, it would be a no-brainer for manager Joe Girardi to send the lefty back out for the eighth. But it was slightly trickier in this instance, considering Sabathia could well come back and start Game 4 on three days rest.


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The decision: Despite what might occur in Game 4, Girardi stuck with his durable workhorse for the eighth.

The outcome: Sabathia finished with a 1-2-3 frame, pushing his final pitch count to 113. Sticking with Sabathia for one more inning certainly worked for Girardi in Game 1. It remains to be seen if the extra pitches will have any carryover should Sabathia come back on short rest on Tuesday.

The analysis: "No, CC was still strong. That was not a concern of mine. His pitch count wasn't extremely high. He had pitched extremely well tonight and his velocity was still good, so I was sticking with him," said Girardi.

"I feel fine," Sabathia said. "I feel great. Like I said, I had a lot of offdays in August and September so I feel fine physically."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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