And the side effect for the Yankees is this -- if they can force this series to go the distance, Sabathia is probably out of play as a starter in Game 7.
Under the original format, Sabathia could have pitched Game 4 and then been able to come back for Game 7 on three days' rest in a marquee matchup against a fully rested Justin Verlander.
Tale of the Tape: Game 4
|2012 regular season|
|Overall: 28 GS, 15-6, 3.38 ERA, 44 BB, 197 K||Overall: 32 GS, 16-7, 3.74 ERA, 60 BB, 231 K|
|Key stat: Lowest innings total since 2006 keeps the workhorse fresh||Key stat: Career high in strikeouts with fewest innings as a Tiger|
|At Comerica Park|
|2012: 2 GS, 2-0, 3.95 ERA
Career: 16 GS, 9-5, 4.26 ERA
| 2012: 14 GS, 7-3, 3.51 ERA
Career: 47 GS, 23-11, 3.45 ERA
|Against this opponent|
|2012: 3 GS, 3-0, 3.32 ERA
Career: 35 GS, 18-12, 4.43 ERA
|2012: 1 GS, 0-1, 5.79 ERA
Career: 4 GS, 3-1, 3.42 ERA
|Loves to face: Omar Infante: 6-for-29, 10
Hates to face: Miguel Cabrera: 10-for-28, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 8 BB
|Loves to face: Alex Rodriguez: 1-for-12, 4 K
Hates to face: Curtis Granderson: 4-for-15, 1 HR, 2 RBI
|Why he'll win: He's putting up playoff numbers like 2009, allowing only three earned runs in 17 2/3 innings||Why he'll win: He's a strikeout pitcher against a team that's whiffed 67 times through its first six playoffs games|
|Pitcher beware: He allowed six runs in 8 2/3 innings against Detroit in the 2011 ALDS||Pitcher beware: He allowed seven hits and walked seven over 4 2/3 innings in an April start vs. N.Y.|
|Bottom line: He's pitching like an ace, going at least eight innings in each of his past five starts||Bottom line: Limit walks against a team struggling to get hits|
"This would cause a problem with that," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. "No doubt about it. But regardless, we'll find a way."
"Listen, this is a full 25-man roster with a lot of capable guys," Cashman said. "It doesn't matter what they throw at us. We have to find a way. Tomorrow it's all about winning our next game, and then we'll worry about the day after the day after. Whatever the schedule turns out to be, it doesn't matter. We will find a way. We have no choice."
One reason the Yankees were glad the game never started on Wednesday is they avoided a repeat of what happened in Game 1 of their AL Division Series against the Tigers last year, when Sabathia started the game but it was postponed before becoming an official game. The left-hander wound up not pitching again until Game 3, and the Yankees lost the series in five games.
"You definitely want your guy out there," said Yankees catcher Russell Martin. "You don't want to have him take a 40-minute break. Having been in that situation before, it's better for them to call the game and give you a fresh start tomorrow."
The general consensus from the Yankees is that everything probably worked out for the best.
"Well, yeah, from what they said on the Doppler, I guess it was supposed to come in at a certain time, and you don't want to be four or five innings deep and then both starters are gone for the next three or four days," said Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher. "I understand why they did it. "
As it is, Sabathia has been in an unfamiliar position, having to play the waiting game to make his imprint on a postseason series.
This marks the first time in Sabathia's career he's had to wait until Game 4 to make his first start in a postseason series.
The reason Sabathia was reduced to spectator status for the first three games is because he had to pitch the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS against the Orioles, in which he fired a complete-game masterpiece.
To say Sabathia willed the Yankees to this round would be perfectly accurate. All he did in the ALDS was go 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA while falling just two outs shy of two complete games.
"I am definitely looking forward to getting a chance to pitch in this series," Sabathia said on Tuesday. "You know, I felt pretty good the last two or three times out and felt good in the bullpen, so I just look to continue to build off that, make sure I have my command down -- the fastball command -- and really work off that. But I always say, whether good or bad, I always put the last one behind me. I am ready for [Thursday]."
Considering their current plight, the Yankees would rather have no one on the mound in Game 4 other than Sabathia.
"I mean, you have your No. 1 starter," said second baseman Robinson Cano. "He'll pitch great. We just have to do the job with men in scoring position."
The gem that Sabathia pitched in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Orioles occurred one day after Verlander eliminated the A's with one of the most dominant postseason starts you'll see -- a shutout on four hits, one walk and 11 strikeouts.
So there Sabathia was again in Game 3 of the ALCS, watching Verlander pitch a gem against his team while he waited for his own start.
Sabathia hopes to answer Verlander's vintage effort with another one of his own in Game 4.
It's hard to deny the similarities between Sabathia and Verlander, particularly when it comes to the bulldog mentalities they both have.
"Obviously, I know he's a great pitcher," said Sabathia, who is 9-4 lifetime in the postseason. "I had a conversation with him -- a lot and talking back and forth and texting back and forth. So I know he's great and one of the best pitchers in the league, and I have a lot of respect for him, but I just try to go out and do my thing."
With everyone from Cano to Alex Rodriguez to Swisher to Curtis Granderson in a heavy slump at the same time, it might be tempting for Sabathia to try to over-do it.
"I always want to go out and try to shut the other team down and give us as many opportunities to score," Sabathia said. "As cold as we are, we can get just as hot, especially with our lineup and the veterans we have and great players we have. We always had faith that if you go out there and do your job, you are going to score runs, and we have all year, really."
While Yankees manager Joe Girardi has spent countless hours trying to figure out how to fix his lineup, the one thing that has given him a chance to relax is knowing Sabathia is taking the mound.
"CC, we obviously always look forward to seeing him," said Girardi. "We know the competitor he is and how he will grind out a game. He's never going to get too caught up with what happened the pitch before or the play before. He has outstanding stuff, and he knows how to win. We are pretty excited about it."
"He's been our ace -- he's been our horse all year long," said Swisher. "We're excited to have him out there."