Yankee Killers

Carlos Guillen did plenty of damage to the New York Yankees in the playoffs last season, and picked up where he left off in his first game against them.

Guillen and the Detroit Tigers look to end Andy Pettitte's three-game winning streak for the New York Yankees when the teams continue their four-game series Friday night.

Detroit (67-54) opened the series with an 8-5 victory on Thursday as Guillen hit his second grand slam of the season in the first inning. Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez added RBI singles in the second inning as the Tigers built an early cushion and never looked back.

Guillen was a big reason why the Tigers eliminated the Yankees (67-54) in four games in an AL division series last year, going 8-for-14 (.571). He went 2-for-5 on Thursday, and is also 8-for-21 (.381) in his career against Pettitte.

The Tigers moved into sole possession of first place in the AL Central, one-half game ahead of Cleveland. The Yankees missed a chance to take over the lead for the wild card, falling one-half game behind Seattle.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made New York -190 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 10.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -190 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The game also marked Gary Sheffield's return to Yankee Stadium after being dealt to Detroit in the offseason for three minor league pitchers. Sheffield, who played for the Yankees from 2004-06, refused to take back his criticism that New York manager Joe Torre treated white and black players differently.

"I don't have to clear up nothing. I meant what I said, said what I meant - and I stand by it," Sheffield said. "Like I said before, you can do whatever you want with my words, I don't really care."

Sheffield went 0-for-3 with two walks and was booed in every plate appearance.

Pettitte (9-7, 3.93 ERA), who has never faced Sheffield, has been outstanding since the All-Star break. He's 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA in the second half, and has a 2.70 ERA in winning his three outings in August.

The veteran left-hander was very effective Sunday, allowing two runs over 7 1-3 innings in a 5-3 victory over Cleveland. He took a three-hit shutout into the seventh.

Pettitte has won his last four starts at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers by limiting them to a 2.15 ERA in that span. He hasn't faced them in New York since Sept. 10, 2003.

He may not get a chance to face Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco, who missed his third straight game Thursday with the flu. Polanco was 7-for-17 (.412) in the playoffs against the Yankees last year.

New York, which leads the majors with 251 runs since the All-Star break, is trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time since June 23-27. Alex Rodriguez was hitless in four at-bats in Thursday's loss to see his average drop to .353 (18-for-51) in August.

"I'm happy to say it (the losing streak) seems very odd," Torre said. "We still have a great deal of confidence."

Nate Robertson (7-9, 5.01) will face New York for the first time since he was tagged for seven runs over 5 2-3 innings in an 8-4 loss in Game 1 of the ALDS. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter went 4-for-4 against Robertson in that game.

The left-hander is also 1-4 with a 4.46 ERA in six career outings against the Yankees in the regular season.

Robertson has struggled on the road this year, going 2-6 with a 5.40 ERA in eight starts. He picked up a win in his last start at home by allowing four runs over 5 2-3 innings in an 11-6 victory over Oakland on Sunday.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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