Friday, September 30, 2011

The road to the World Series: Prospect no Moore: Rookie faces Wilson in ALDS

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas-  The Rays will enter an American League Division Series matchup against the Rangers still riding the wave of their late-season heroics that resulted in an improbable berth into the postseason.
Evan Longoria punched his team's ticket into October baseball in the most dramatic fashion possible by hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning on Wednesday night against New York.

That historic shot combined with a collapse by the Red Sox allowed Tampa Bay to become the first team in Major League history to rally from nine games back in September to claim a spot in the playoffs.

"It's really a surreal feeling," said Longoria, who club was trailing, 7-0, in the eighth inning against the Yankees on the final day of the season. "It was such a long day and a long game and everything happened in a matter of seconds. It was a really crazy feeling."

Now the attention shifts to Game 1 on Friday afternoon. It's a rematch of the 2010 ALDS, which Texas won in five games. The Rangers also won the 2011 regular-season series, 5-4.

Left-hander C.J. Wilson gets the call for Texas after a banner season in which he went 16-7 and posted a 2.94 ERA in a career-high 223 1/3 innings.

Wilson tossed 6 1/3 shutout frames against Tampa Bay during Game 2 of last year's ALDS at Tropicana Field and feels like this time around he will be even more prepared because he knows what to expect.

"I got a lot of advice last year from people that have been there and I hadn't been there," Wilson said. "Now that I have been there, I know what to expect.

"They are going to have the same lineups pretty much they had in the regular season against me. So knowing that, I feel like -- even though we found out [our opponent] at the last minute -- I have all my notes and the video and that stuff to go through and I feel prepared."

Tampa Bay will counter with rookie sensation Matt Moore, who has a total of 9 1/3 innings in the Major Leagues under his belt. The eighth-round selection of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft joined the Rays in September and allowed just three earned runs in three appearances down the stretch.

Moore will be making just his second Major League start -- no pitcher before has started a postseason game with one or fewer previous Major League starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Moore -- at 22 years, 104 days old -- will be the youngest AL pitcher to start his team's first game of the postseason since Vida Blue (22 years, 67 days) for the A's in 1971 and the youngest in the Majors since Rick Ankiel (21 years, 76 days) for the Cardinals in 2000.

The Rays come into the series having won five consecutive games and owning a 32-17 record since Aug. 8 to make the postseason. Texas has been equally hot, winning its final six games to claim home-field advantage.

The Rangers also possess the AL's best record in the second half and should prove to be the more rested club, which could help combat Tampa Bay's momentum.

"They have a clubhouse full of guys that are excited and on a roll right now," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said. "A month ago I don't know if they even expected to get into the postseason and now they're here. We can't take them lightly by any means.

"But we've definitely been playing well. Hopefully we can carry that into the postseason. It would be nice if things were clicking on all cylinders, C.J. comes out and throws the way he knows how to, and our offense clicks the way it has been."

The Rangers' lineup is stacked with the likes of Josh Hamilton (.298 batting average, 25 home runs and 94 RBIs in 2011), Michael Young (.338), Mike Napoli (.320, 30 homers), Nelson Cruz (29 homers, 87 RBIs), Ian Kinsler (32 homers) and Adrian Beltre (.296, 32 homers, 105 RBIs).

But the series likely will come down to pitching. Texas ranked third in the American League in starters' ERA with strong seasons by Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando, who will be used out of the bullpen.

The Rays ranked first with David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis. Now Moore will be added to the mix of what already was one of baseball's deepest rotations.
That type of potential is what Johnny Damon thinks will help stop his club from running out of gas following their late-season push.

"We better have a lot left in our tanks or we'll be going home soon," Damon said. "I know this past month has been grueling, but we got to the playoffs, and with our pitching staff anything can happen."

Less than 24 hours after that memorable season finale, Longoria's shot to left field was already being compared to the biggest home runs in the history of the game.

Tampa Bay's third baseman didn't want to comment on where his moment ranks among the likes of Kirk Gibson, Bobby Thomson, Bucky Dent and Joe Carter but admitted it was a thrill just to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the all-time greats.

"It's an honor to be included with names like that," Longoria said. "I've said it all along -- you don't think about things happening like they happened last night. With [Boston's] rain delay and our extra innings, everything that happened last night, it seemed like everything just fell into place. The stars aligned."

While the Rays were putting the finishing touches on the Yankees -- and the Red Sox were coming unglued in Baltimore -- the Rangers spent their night celebrating a victory over the Angels and waiting to see who their opponent on Friday would be.

Like many people around the world, they kept a close eye on their television sets to see how everything played out.

"That was probably the most dramatic day in the history of the game," Texas' Michael Young said. "It really was. No one knew who they were playing, only a couple of teams knew where they would be playing, then you have those two games with dramatic endings. Just a crazy day in the game of baseball, fans definitely got they money worth."

The road to the World Series: Verlander-CC duel opens ALDS in Bronx

Yankee Stadium- One of the game's most electric settings and two of its most expert aces.

Really, what more do you want?

Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers is on the horizon, and it has all the makings of a heavyweight bout, given the skill of the two men set to take the mound.

CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00 ERA) is the former Cy Young winner who, two falls ago, put the Yankees on his back and carried them to the World Series. Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40) is the soon-to-be Cy and potential MVP who willed his team into contention before it hit its stride down the stretch.

The Yankees and Tigers have so much riding on these two ample arms, and the ride gets under way Friday night at 8:37 ET on TBS in the Bronx.

Neither Sabathia nor Verlander lacks the confidence necessary for the assignment.

"When I'm right," Sabathia has said, "I can beat anybody."

Said Verlander: "If you expect greatness, greatness shouldn't surprise you."

Still, both Sabathia and Verlander clearly have their work cut out for them, because the starpower in this matchup extends all around the diamond. These were two of the Majors' four most productive offenses this season, along with the Red Sox and Rangers.

In fact, Sabathia and Verlander have each had struggles against their upcoming opponent. Both made a pair of starts, and neither came out with a victory. Sabathia was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA and .320 average against in 13 innings against Detroit. Verlander had two no-decisions with a 4.50 ERA, .250 average against and an uncharacteristic eight walks in 12 innings against New York.

And that speaks to the added intrigue level surrounding this showdown. A superb challenge is in store for the bats and the arms alike.

The Yankees have already made one big decision for their postseason lineup against right-handers such as Verlander. Mark Teixeira, who has struggled mightily from the left side of the plate this season against defensive shifts, has been dropped to the No. 5 spot, with the red-hot Robinson Cano batting third.

"I think we're going to see how it works; I don't see why it wouldn't work," Teixeira said. "We're trying to win games. And putting Robbie, the hot hand, in the third spot, it's a great idea."
For the Tigers, bucking the trend of what is essentially a platoon situation at third base might be the best bet against CC. The switch-hitting Wilson Betemit has gotten the bulk of playing time against right-handers, with the right-handed Brandon Inge seeing time against lefties. But Betemit is 3-for-5 with a double in his career against Sabathia, while Inge is just 11-for-58.

While deliberating over the unsettled lineup spots is the task at hand for managers Joe Girardi and Jim Leyland, the primary task for Sabathia and Verlander will be neutralizing two of the more potent middle orders in the game.

The Yankees got nearly 55 percent of their RBI production this season from the Nos. 2-5 spots, which belonged, in order, to Curtis Granderson, Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Cano, until the Teixeira/Cano swap was made this week. The bad news for the Yankees? Those guys are a combined 12-for-67 with just three home runs off Verlander in their career. But Verlander will have to prevent Derek Jeter, who is 9-for-25 with four walks against him, from setting the table.

For the Tigers, a similar percentage of the production has come from the Nos. 3-6 spots, occupied by Delmon Young, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and either Alex Avila or Jhonny Peralta. Those guys are a combined 20-for-83 with four home runs off CC, but nine of those hits and two of those homers came from Cabrera. Sabathia simply must be careful with Cabrera, who has a 1.591 OPS in 16 career at-bats against him.

The Yankees have to take advantage of the home-field edge afforded them in Game 1. It goes out the window if they lose. This club is perfectly constructed for its home park, in which it has notched a .274 average and .825 OPS. The confines are less friendly at Comerica, where the Yanks hit .252 with a .666 OPS in four games this year.

Momentum would not appear to be a major factor in this tilt. The Tigers had one of the best records in the Majors this month, but the Yankees weren't all that far behind.

Besides, momentum, as they say, only goes so far as the next day's pitcher. And both pitchers lined up for Game 1 know how to stop momentum in its tracks.


Yankees: Jeter, as usual, in special company
Jeter notched his 3,000th career hit on July 9 in dramatic fashion with a home run, becoming just the second player in history to reach the mark by going deep. Wade Boggs was the first.

But Jeter's special company in a sub-committee of the 3,000 club does not end there. Now that the playoffs are about to begin, Jeter has become just the third member of the club to reach the postseason in the same year in which he cranked out No. 3,000.

The others? Roberto Clemente (1972, Pirates lost NLCS to Reds) and Eddie Murray (1995, Indians lost World Series to Braves).

If things break right, don't rule out the possibility of Jeter achieving another milestone -- his 200th postseason hit. He's at 185, which is already a postseason record.



Tigers: Victor spoiled by Yankee Stadium
When the Yankees moved across 161st Street into the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, they unwittingly did Martinez a favor.

V-Mart hit .224 (13-for-58) with three homers and 14 RBIs in 15 games at the old place. The new one has the same dimensions, but Martinez has fared much better, batting .264 (24-for-91) with nine homers and 14 RBIs. His .582 slugging percentage at new Yankee Stadium is his second-highest at any ballpark in which he's played more than three games (he has a .622 SLG in 31 games at Tropicana Field).

For the sake of comparison, Martinez has the same number of home runs in his career at Comerica Park as he does at new Yankee Stadium, despite nearly five times as many plate appearances.


Worth noting
  • Mariano Rivera's consistency in the ninth inning is the stuff of legend, and he's been particularly consistent against the Tigers. The last time he blew a save against them was in July 1999, at the old Tiger Stadium. In the time since, he's 23-for-23 in save situations against Detroit, allowing just one earned run -- on a homer by Granderson, who is now his teammate.
  • Speaking of Granderson, it's worth remembering that the three teams involved in the December 2009 deal that brought him to the Bronx -- the Yankees, Tigers and D-backs -- all won their division this year, with the pieces of that trade to thank. Austin Jackson is the Tigers' starting center fielder, Max Scherzer is in the rotation and Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth are in the bullpen. The D-backs got 21 regular-season wins out of Ian Kennedy and 16 out of Daniel Hudson, who they had acquired for Edwin Jackson, another acquisition in the Granderson trade.
  • How important is winning Game 1 in the Division Series? Not quite as much as you might think in the AL. While the team that took Game 1 in the NLDS has gone on to win the series 29 of 32 times, the Game 1 winner in the ALDS has failed to seal the deal in 14 of 32 tries. That, of course, includes the 2006 Yankees team that took Game 1 against the Tigers, only to lose the series in four games.

Weekday and Weeknight Service Advisories for October 3-7

1 Line
All times until 5 AM Mon, Oct 10
Downtown 1 service skips 225 St.

All times until June 2012
Downtown 1 service skips Dyckman St.

11 AM to 3 PM, Wed to Fri, Oct 5 – 7
Manhattan-bound 1 service runs express from 242 St to 215 St.

These service changes affect one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.





2 Line
12:30 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Oct 4 – 7
2 service operates in two sections:
  1. Between 241 St and 149 St-Grand Concourse.
  2. Between 149 St-Grand Concourse and Flatbush Av.
  • To continue your trip, transfer at 149 St-Grand Concourse.
10:30 AM to 3 PM, Wed to Fri, Oct 5 – 7
241 St-bound 2 service runs express from E 180 St to Gun Hill Rd

These service changes affect one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.





3 Line
12:30 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Oct 4 – 7
No trains running.
Take the 2 and free shuttle buses.
  • Free shuttle buses run between 148 St and 135 St.
  • Take the 2 between 135 St and Times Sq-42 St.
Note: Free shuttle bus service begins 30 minutes prior to this service change.
 
 
 
 
 
6 Line
All times until Late October 2011
6 service skips Elder Av and St Lawrence Av.
 
 
 
 
7 Line
10:30 AM to 3 PM, Tue to Fri, Oct 4 – 7
Manhattan-bound 7 service runs express from 74 St to Queensboro Plaza.
 
 
 
 
A Line
11 PM to 5 AM, Mon to Fri, Oct 3 – 7
Uptown A trains run express from 59 St to 125 St.
 
 
 
 
B Line
All times effective 5 AM, Mon, Oct 3
Express B service returns to the Brighton Line.
  • B trains operate express between Prospect Park and Brighton Beach, making stops at Church Av, Newkirk Plaza, Kings Hwy, and Sheepshead Bay.
  • Q Local service will continue to serve all stations between Prospect Park and Coney Island-Stillwell Av.




D Line
ALL TIMES until 5 AM, Fri, Oct 28
Coney Island-bound D trains skip 71 St.

10 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Thu, Oct 3 – 6
Manhattan-bound D trains run via the N from Stillwell Av to 36 St, Brooklyn.





E Line
12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Oct 4 – 7
No E trains between W 4 St and World Trade Center
  • Take the A instead.
These service changes affect one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.




F Line
All times until Spring 2012
F trains skip Smith-9 Sts in both directions

10:30 AM to 3 PM, Tue to Thu, Oct 4 – 6
F service operates in two sections:
  1. Between 179 St and Avenue X.
  2. Between Stillwell Av and Avenue X, every 20 minutes.
To continue your trip, transfer at Avenue X.
  • Trains traveling from 179 St to Avenue X skip Avenue U. For service to Avenue U, take the Avenue X-bound F to Avenue X and transfer to a Manhattan-bound F.
  • From this station: take a Manhattan-bound F to Kings Hwy and transfer to an Avenue X-bound F.





G Line
All times until Spring 2012
G trains skip Smith-9 Sts in both directions.

11 PM to 5 AM, Mon to Fri, Oct 3 – 7
No G trains between Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts and Church Av.
  • A and F trains provide alternate service via Jay St-MetroTech.

11 PM to 5 AM, Mon to Fri, Oct 3 – 7
G service operates in two sections:
  1. Between Court Sq and Bedford-Nostrand Avs.
  2. Between Bedford-Nostrand Avs and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts.
  • To continue your trip, transfer at Bedford-Nostrand Avs.




J Line
10 AM to 3 PM, Wed to Fri, Oct 5 – 7
Jamaica Center-bound J trains run express from Marcy Av to Myrtle Av.

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information,  read station signs.






L Line
10:15 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Fri, Oct 3 – 7
L service operates in two sections:
  1. Between 8 Av and Broadway Junction.
  2. Between Broadway Junction and Rockaway Pkwy, every 24 minutes
To continue your trip, transfer at Broadway Junction.






M Line
10 AM to 3 PM, Wed to Fri, Oct 5 – 7
Metropolitan Av-bound M trains run express from Marcy Av to Myrtle Av

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.

ALDS Preview Section: Yankees-Tigers ALDS matchups

Brandon J.'s News breaks down the ALDS matchup between the Yankees and Tigers position by position.
CATCHER -- Russell Martin may have started the All-Star game, but Alex Avila had the better overall season. Edge: Tigers

FIRST BASE -- Miguel Cabrera had an MVP-type season while Mark Teixeira tailed off severely down the stretch. Prior to his final three games, Teixeira had hit just .200 with two homers and four RBIs in his previous 80 at-bats while Cabrera ended up hitting .344. Edge: Tigers

SECOND BASE -- Joe Girardi plans to build the middle of the Yankees’ lineup around Robinson Cano, who has emerged as one of the team’s most feared offensive threats. It took the Tigers a long time to settle on what to do at second and the platoon of Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn has been effective, but won’t be as productive as Cano. Edge: Yankees

THIRD BASE -- The Yankees should have a huge advantage here, but Alex Rodriguez has been hobbled by a surgically repaired right knee, as well as a sprained left thumb and his production has lagged because of it. Still, if he’s even close to healthy, Rodriguez will be better than the ragtag combination of former Yankee Wilson Betemit and Brandon Inge, who was sent down to the minors this season. If Rodriguez is unable to go, Eric Chavez or Eduardo Nunez could step in, but the dropoff would be significant. Edge: Yankees

SHORTSTOP -- Derek Jeter was written off too quickly when he got off to a horrendous start this season. He rebounded to have a strong second half after collecting his 3000th hit. Still, he can’t match Jhonny Peralta’s power number (21 homers) and while Peralta can’t match Jeter’s playoff experience, he had some postseason success with Cleveland in 2007. Edge: Even

LEFT FIELD -- Delmon Young provides some power for Detroit, but Brett Gardner is better defensively and adds speed to the lineup. Edge: Yankees

CENTER FIELD -- Austin Jackson can be disruptive on the bases, but Curtis Granderson proved this year that he’s dangerous everywhere, with a breakout season in which he finished with 41 homers and 119 RBIs. Edge: Yankees

RIGHT FIELD -- Nick Swisher had another solid year, but he still has to prove he can be a consistent threat in the playoffs. His career .162 postseason batting average won’t help the Yanks. Magglio Ordonez has slowed considerably and is no longer the threat he once was, but is coming off a strong September. He is sub-par defensively and figures to split time with Andy Dirks. Edge: Even

DESIGNATED HITTER -- Victor Martinez has been terrific for the Tigers, while the Yankees hope for the best with Jorge Posada and newcomer Jesus Montero. Edge: Tigers

STARTING PITCHING -- Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia will meet in Game 1 and after that, questions abound. Will Ivan Nova have the same winning touch as he did during the regular season? Can Freddy Garcia continue to fool hitters with his diminished stuff? Detroit has Doug Fister, 8-1 since arriving in a trade, and Max Scherzer, trying to build on a 15-win season. Jim Leyland has said he won’t go with a three-man rotation, as Joe Girardi will, meaning the Yankees won’t see Verlander again until Game 5. Edge: Even

RELIEF PITCHING -- Detroit’s bullpen has made strides this season, with Joaquin Benoit and Al Alburquerque setting up closer Jose Valverde, who was 49-for-49 in save opportunities this season. Still, until Mariano Rivera proves otherwise, almost any bullpen with him in it has the upper hand, especially when set up by David Robertson. Edge: Yankees

BENCH -- The Tigers aren’t as deep as they once were because of injuries to Carlos Guillen and Brennan Boesch, but they are versatile. Leyland uses platoons freely, meaning the Tigers’ bench players one day could be in the lineup the next. The Yankees have a veteran presence on the bench, with Jorge Posada, Andruw Jones and Chavez, depending on who’s starting. Edge: Yankees

MANAGER -- Both managers have been in the postseason plenty of times and won there. Jim Leyland guided the Marlins to a World Series title in 1997, while Joe Girardi did the same with the Yankees two years ago. Edge: Even

INTANGIBLES -- Having the best pitcher in the game is perhaps the most valuable intangible to have this time of year and the Tigers have it in Verlander, but Sabathia isn’t far off, and the Yankees have home field advantage and Rivera. Edge: Even

ALDS Preview Section: Scouts say Tigers more than just a pretty ace

Written by NY Post coulumnist Joel Sherman
For weeks we wondered who would have to face Justin Verlander, perhaps twice, in a short series. We have our answer now.

But the Yankees would be making a mistake to believe this a one-man team even if Verlander might win both the AL Cy Young and MVP. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are as formidable a No, 4-5 duo as exist in these playoffs. Detroit closer Jose Valverde has not blown a save and has a strong set-up crew in front of him. And the hottest starter going into this postseason is not the Tigers’ No. 1 starter, but their No. 2, Doug Fister.

With the help of five scouts, here is what the Yankees have to concentrate on to win this Division Series:


THE PEDRO THEORY
From 1998-2004, his time with the Red Sox, Pedro Martinez was the best pitcher in the majors and one of the best ever. Yet in that period he was 9-10 against the Yankees and 108-27 against all other teams, and the Red Sox were 10-17 against the Yankees when Pedro started and 128-48 against all others. The Yankees were able to beat the Pedro Red Sox because they worked the count to shorten his outings, their starters matched Martinez and their bullpen outpitched the Boston pen. That is the formula the Yankees need against Verlander -- and one with which they are familiar.
The only team to beat Detroit twice this year when Verlander started was the Yankees; the Tigers were 25-7 in his other outings. CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon at least matched him. The Yankees’ patient hitters made Verlander throw 114 and 127 pitches just to last six innings twice. And while the Yankees bullpen pitched five shutout innings in those games, Detroit’s gave up five runs in five innings and took the loss both times.



AS EASY AS 1-2-3
The might of the Tigers lineup is with Cabrera at cleanup protected by Martinez. So it does not take a genius to understand the Yankees must minimize the effectiveness of the first three hitters so they can, in particular, work to Cabrera with none on as much as possible; giving them the option to pitch around him frequently.

The Tigers’ top three hitters are all righties -- Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez and Delmon Young -- and all struggle against righties. So that will put a premium on a Yankees strength: righty relief with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. Phil Hughes might play a part in this at some point, as well. Jackson is hitless in eight career at-bats vs. Hughes. And it will be fascinating to see if Joe Girardi trusts A.J. Burnett out of the pen, because Ordonez, Young and Cabrera are a combined 9-for-43 (.209) against him with one homer.

Young will be facing the Yankees in the Division Series for the third straight year, having been with Minnesota the past two seasons. He has thrived since coming to Detroit and being moved in front of the cleanup-hitting Cabrera. One scout said: “Young is flourishing because people are throwing strikes with Cabrera behind him. You can’t throw this guy strikes. You still have to let him get himself out.”


AVOID THIS CAB
Cabrera does not have a great reputation beyond his hitting, but multiple scouts were in agreement that this was the most serious they have ever seen the veteran take his defense, baserunning and general demeanor on the field. But, of course, his main job remains being an offensive monster.

One scout said, “He is like [Albert] Pujols, just avoid him.” Another said, “Really, just walk him every time.” When pushed how to actually pitch to Cabrera, the scout said, “If you don’t keep him conscious of the hard stuff inside, you are done because his plate coverage is better than anyone in baseball. You must pound him in. If you hit him or walk him, fine.” Soriano and Rivera have combined to hold Cabrera to one hit in 11 at-bats.

And a key to Cabrera is Martinez’s presence. Cabrera had a .518 on-base percentage (44 walks) with runners in scoring position to show just how little teams wanted to pitch to him in big spots. However, he still hit .388 in those situations, which was second in the majors (minimum 100 plate appearances). The leader at .394 was Martinez, who also has the most homers (nine) by a visitor at the new Yankee Stadium in just 91 at-bats.



PERFECT ENDINGS
Valverde not only led the majors with 49 saves, he did not blow one all year. He can be a bit of a high-wire act (averages 4.2 walks per nine innings). But he found tremendous success this year by throwing his fastball more than ever, yet locating better at 92-94 mph than his familiar 95-96 mph.

But when you face the Yankees, you have to be able to shut down lefty hitters, and Detroit’s pen is strong in his area. The Tigers have two southpaws, Phil Coke (.215) and Daniel Schlereth (.174) who tame lefties, but they also have two righties who do. Joaquin Benoit, who was Soriano’s brilliant set-up man in Tampa last year, recovered from a brutal first five weeks to post a 1.36 ERA in his final 50 appearances. His changeup makes him particularly effective against lefties; importantly Robinson Cano is 1-for-14 against him.

And one scout called Al Albuquerque the “wild card of this series” because he could be a dominant sixth-seventh-inning figure. The righty permitted just 21 hits in 431Ž3 innings with 67 strikeouts in just 148 at-bats.

Lefties hit .176 off of him and righties .113. One scout said: “He is 95, 96 [mph] with a hard, hard slurve. He is a factor. He is hard to hit.”



DIGGING DOUG
No team made a better July trade than Detroit did for Fister. In fact, you can say both the Yankees and Tigers needed to find a No. 2 starter behind their aces, and only Detroit solved that issue. Fister pitched as well while with the Tigers as Verlander, going 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA down the stretch.

This allows Detroit to go into the series with greater confidence that it can survive a loss by its ace than the Yankees can. Fister throws 90-91 mph.

He will use both a curve and a slider, determining which one is best on any given day to emphasize. His changeup is a weapon vs. lefties. But the word that comes up from scouts often is “deception.” Fister is 6-foot-8 and has a unique downhill angle that throws off hitters. Plus, he is supremely confident in his abilities.

In his final start as a Mariner, Fister lost to the Yankees on July 26 at the Stadium, giving up a homer to Curtis Granderson in a game that will be remembered for Sabathia nearly throwing a perfect game. But when Fister pitches tomorrow, Sabathia will not be the opponent and he will not be backed by Seattle’s anemic offense.

joel.sherman@nypost.com 

Netflix is bleeding

Netflix investors went postal yesterday, pushing the former Wall Street darling to another 52-week low amid fears that rivals like Amazon and Microsoft are gaining power.
Shares in the Los Gatos, Calif., company fell by more than 15 percent in the mid-afternoon to their lowest levels since August 2010 before recovering a bit at the close to finish down 11 percent at $113.19.

That’s a mighty fall from its 52-week high of $304.79, hit just this past July 13. That means Netflix, headed by CEO Reed Hastings, once a Wall Street darling, has lost 65 percent of its value, or $10.1 billion, in just 10 weeks.

In other words, Netflix has lost a staggering $186 million in value in each of the 54 trading days since it hit its high.

Amazon is hoping to lure customers to its low-cost devices with a host of TV and movie content, although Amazon is also reportedly making Netflix available on the devices. The e-retailer said Wednesday it is launching a new tablet computer and lowering the price of its e-reader, Kindle.

Investors also appear concerned about Microsoft, which, according to a Bloomberg report, has tied up with Comcast Corp. and Verizon to offer programming through the Xbox gaming device.

Microsoft declined comment on the report.

While growing competition caused some of the stock’s fall, most of the drop is the result of a self-inflicted wound.

The company plans to split itself in half and launch a separate DVD business named Qwikster and continue its streaming product under the Netflix name.

While Netflix is expanding internationally, it has warned that domestic subscriber numbers will be around 1 million lower than projected for the third quarter. Subscribers will total 24 million, the company forecast, suggesting 600,000 customers will disappear.

Subscribers have been canceling in response to a 60-percent price hike.

London 2012 Olympic hopeful long jumps over 3 Mini cars

London, England- Not even London's congested traffic can bring Britain's top athletes down to earth.
English champion J.J. Jegede jumped over three Minis in front of London's Tower Bridge.

Jegede, 25, whose personal best is 8.04m, jumped over the three cars - each 2m wide - and said: "When you watch athletics on TV it's hard to really understand just how far professional athletes can jump.

"I've always wanted to demonstrate my ability in a fun way, so I jumped at the chance to perform an Evel Knievel-style display."

Justin’s ride full of bologna

Jennifer Aniston’s neighbors are snickering about a prankster who left a blanket of bologna meat on top of her boyfriend Justin Theroux’s BMW motorcycle early yesterday morning as it was parked outside of the actress’ West 12th Street apartment.
A neighbor walking a dog early in the morning spotted up to 25 slices of “what clearly was bologna” stuck to the seat, the wheels, handlebars, muffler and engine at about 8 a.m. yesterday morning. But shortly after, the bike was cleaned off.

While the identity of the prankster remains a mystery, “I got the impression it was some weird message, like, ‘You’re full of bologna,’ ” the neighbor told us. “The bike was in otherwise in fine condition.”

Aniston and Theroux, who met on the set of their movie “Wanderlust,” moved into a Hollywood pad in August. But they have recently been spending time at the West Village apartment she bought in May, combining two apartments on different floors to create a 2,700-square-foot duplex.

Neighbors say Theroux’s bike has been parked outside Aniston’s apartment almost every day this week, and the pair have been repeatedly seen strolling around the city. The happy couple have attracted a lot of attention from photographers, causing a commotion which has unsettled some locals.

Aniston’s rep said, “There are paparazzi outside their apartment 24/7. Don’t you think they would have photographed the person doing it, if indeed this actually happened, which I do not know for sure.”

Aniston has made an effort to show that former husband Brad Pitt’s recent comments about their marriage haven’t ruined her happiness. Pitt told Parade, “I wasn’t living an interesting life myself ... I think that my marriage [to Aniston] had something to do with it. Trying to pretend the marriage was something that it wasn’t.” Pitt later clarified that he was talking about himself, not Jen.

Demi and Ashton split up temporarily -- on Twitter!

Demi and Ashton's rocky marriage is playing out on Twitter.
Moore is no longer one of the 671 people her husband follows on Twitter, RadarOnline.com reported today.

For a while, Moore also stopped following the "Two and a Half Men" star -- and only recently began to “follow” him again, the website reported.

In 2009, Ashton became the first person on Twitter to reach one million followers -- a feat he reached with a “follow” from Moore.

RadarOnline reported that Moore must have at some pointed unfollowed Kutcher, saying, "So why does Ashton’s Twitter handle appear as one of the 20 most recent people Demi’s started following? At some point Demi must have “unfollowed” Ashton and is now following him again."

This comes after reports surfaced that Kutcher had cheated on Moore in San Diego on their most-recent wedding anniversary weekend with a 23-year-old woman named Sara Leal.

Star magazine reported this week that Moore had it with her half-grown husband’s harlots, and was officially ending their six-year marriage.

On Thursday, Page Six of the New York Post that Kutcher tweeted a link to what he apparently was listening to on music service Spotify, which was the Public Enemy song of that name.

He followed that up with, "When you ASSUME to know that which you know nothing of you make an ASS out of U and ME."

The tweets followed a period of relative calm on Kutcher's usually frenetic Twitter feed after the reports of his alleged infidelity surfaced earlier this week.

A source told Page Six: “Sara is talking to multiple media outlets for a deal. She wants $250,000, but the offers haven’t been as high. What she really wants is to get a payoff from Ashton. She has reached out to Ashton’s team.”

Moore, at a New York event on Monday, appeared thin and gaunt and refused to do interviews.
She and Kutcher were last pictured together on her Twitter feed in July.

Recently Moore’s posts have been darker. On Sept. 23, she quoted a Greek philosopher, writing, “When we are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself & study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.”

On Monday she posted a picture of her face with her eyes closed, and the words, “I see through you." 

SAT cheats only aimed for party schools

These dim bulbs cheated to get into party schools!
Two of the four Great Neck North High School grads caught in a mushrooming SAT cheating scandal attend the notoriously hard-partying Arizona State University and University of Colorado at Boulder, where students are as likely to be toking on a bong as hitting the books, sources told The New York Post yesterday.

Two got accepted at Tulane University in New Orleans -- but their acceptance was rescinded once the college found out about the cheating scandal, a spokesman said yesterday.

A fourth attended Baruch College in New York -- like New Orleans, a city known for its anything-goes nightlife.

“None of these kids were known as the smart kids,” the source said. “I guess they needed the help to get into college.”

One of the two booted from Tulane apparently went on to one of the other three schools.
Arizona made No. 131 in US News & World Report’s rankings of national universities; Colorado was 94th and Tulane a somewhat more respectable 50th, while Baruch came in at No. 25 among regional universities in the northeast -- its best ranking ever.

Arizona State and Colorado are huge state schools noted for their “Animal House”-like frats, while temptation lurks around every corner in the Big Apple and the Big Easy.

But the party may be over before it starts for the alleged cheats since, like Tulane, the other three schools have tough codes of student conduct that don’t allow lying and cheating.

“If we catch a student falsifying information before they [enroll], we revoke their accept-ance,” said Bronson Hilliard, a University of Colorado spokesman, who said he was unaware that a Colorado freshman was involved in the scandal. “If it happens after they have enrolled, they are punished under the code of conduct. In either case, it involves a dismissal.”

Spokespeople for the other two colleges had no comment.

Also yesterday, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice -- whose office blew the lid off the scam this week -- said cheating on college entrance tests is widespread and that security should be beefed up as soon as this weekend, when nearly 700,000 students are expected to take the SAT.

“If we don’t send the message to these kids now,” she said, “they’re going to be the future corrupt politicians, the corrupt CEOs, the corrupt accountants, because they’re going to say, ‘Look, I did this when I was 17 and I got a slap on the wrist. Cheating pays.’ ”

When students are caught cheating, the colleges to which they have applied for admission should be informed, she said. That is currently not the case.

The four college freshmen and two current seniors at Great Neck North allegedly enlisted hired brain Sam Eshaghoff, 19, an Emory University sophomore, to take the exams for them between 2009 and last January.

Five of the six paid Eshaghoff between $1,500 and $2,500 to take the tests, according to Rice.

The sixth was Eshaghoff’s girlfriend, the school source said, who didn’t have to pay.

15-year-old Brooklyn rapper wows judges on 'The X Factor'

Simon Cowell got a face full of Brooklyn last night.
Brian Bradley -- a 15-year-old rapper from Brownsville who vows to become “bigger than Jay-Z” -- lit up the stage on “The X Factor” performing an original number called “Stop Looking at My Mom!”

But not before trying to pick a fight with the famously nasty judge.

“What’s your problem, man?” Brian taunted. “You lucky we ain’t in the streets!”

The attitude and the song -- an angry warning to men who hit on his attractive mother -- were enough to get the lippy high-school sophomore a pass to the next round of the Fox’s glitzy new talent show.

Simon was caught off-guard by the teen’s attitude. But the words of his rap song hit home, it seems.

“Stop looking. It ain’t for your eyes to see.
Stop looking. Or you gonna have a problem with me.
Don’t kiss at her. Don’t kiss at her.
Or I’m gonna have to throw my fist at ya!”

“You are arrogant, obnoxious and argumentative,” Cowell told Brian. “But you are one of the most talented young people I have heard in a long time.”

The performance was taped at the first-round auditions staged at the Meadowlands last summer.

Brian is one of the few contestants from the city who appear to have moved past the initial tryouts.
Former record exec L.A. Reid, who is also a judge on the new show, was equally impressed.

“I used to run this label called Def Jam, and all those years I was there, I was looking for you, but you never walked in,” he said.

Brian now advances to the “Boot Camp” round, which begins next week.

“I don’t want to sound cocky, but I expected to make it,” he told The Post this week.

“I want all these people from those labels that turned me down and tried to play me -- I want them to see that and feel stupid.”

Brian -- who suffers from diabetes -- says he began writing rhymes at age 9.

“It’s politics,” he said of his lack of luck so far in landing a record deal. “I have been to so many labels trying to get someone to put me on, and they all just turn me down.

“They ignore you when you are talking. That is why I am really excited for people to see this audition.”

Not surprisingly, he credits his mom -- a children’s-book writer -- for inspiring the show-stopping rap.

“People have been lookin’ at my mother forever, and I have always complained about it. But I would have never thought to put it on a song” if she hadn’t suggested it, he said.

“If it wasn’t for mom, I would have probably put out a lot of corny songs. So mom is great. She is the greatest mom in the world.”

Obama and Christie neck-and-neck in hypothetical 2012 race: poll

Not bad for a guy who isn't even running.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama are in a virtual dead heat in a hypothetical 2012 White House race, according to a new poll.

While Republicans and even his top advisors urge Christie to make a presidential run, a Rasmussen Reports poll released today shows that 44 percent of likely voters back Obama, while Christie attracted 43 percent.

Six percent said they would prefer to vote for a third option, while another eight percent were undecided.

"As [Texas Gov.] Rick Perry has recently demonstrated, it's easier being on the outside with people begging you to run than it is to actually run a campaign," said pollster Scott Rasmussen. "Running for president is a unique role in America, and there's no way of knowing how a candidate will perform unless they actually try it."

The poll also found that Christie is viewed favorably by 38 percent of voters, compared with the 27 percent who have an unfavorable view.

Thirty-five percent of the surveyed likely voters still have no opinion on the governor, the poll found.

Christie's numbers are more positive among Republican voters -- 58 percent of whom said they view Christie favorably.

The poll comes as The Post reported that Christie’s senior advisers are “making calls” to supporters and activists in key places who they believe would be critical to a 2012 candidacy.

The survey also found that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would get 44 percent of the vote to Obama’s 42 percent.

Eight percent said they'd vote for another candidate, while 7 percent remain undecided.

Rasmussen Reports found that both Obama and Romney draw support from roughly three-quarters of the voters in their respective parties.

Romney holds a narrow 42 to 37 percent lead among voters not affiliated with either the Republicans or the Democrats.

Male voters prefer Romney by 12 points, while female voters give the edge to Obama by eight points.

The poll found voters under 40 prefer Obama, but older voters like Romney.

The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted on Sept. 28 and 29. The poll's margin of error is 3 percentage points.

ALDS Preview Section: Yankees need to overcome flaws for long run

Written by NY Post coulumnist George King
When spring training opened, the buzz in the Yankees’ camp was about two left-handed starters who weren’t in Tampa.

Cliff Lee was with the Phillies after taking less money to be comfortable with a team he pitched for before instead of dealing with the white-hot spotlight of The Bronx.

Andy Pettitte was on a ranch in Texas, having decided retirement was a better option than having to be part of a Yankees rotation that didn’t include Lee.

The Yankees still had CC Sabathia on top of the rotation but a lot of holes behind the ace.

So, the Yankees went dumpster diving for Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.

They had 18-game winner Phil Hughes coming back and A.J. Burnett, who promised a better 2011 than 2010.

Colon and Garcia far exceeded anybody’s expectations, going a combined 20-18 in 51 starts and posting 311 innings.

While that made for a nice story and certainly helped them win the AL East, the reality is this: Going into tonight’s Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees don’t have enough starting pitching to win.


LACKING HEAT
Matched against AL Cy Young lock Justin Verlander, Sabathia can negate the right-hander who won 24 games.

After that?

The Yankees will go with 24-year-old Rookie of the Year candidate Ivan Nova in Game 2. In a decision he will likely regret, Joe Girardi went with Garcia for Game 3 despite the 35-year-old right-hander not pitching well in three of his last four starts.

“Power arms win in the postseason,” an AL talent evaluator said. “Garcia’s arm lost its power a long time ago.” Garcia relies on location, change of speed and experience instead of the 96-mph fastball he featured with the Mariners.

Granted, Girardi’s choices besides Garcia were Burnett, Hughes and Colon and none instilled overwhelming confidence.

Nova went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA but tomorrow night will be his first taste of the postseason. And while he reaches 94 mph with the fastball, it is described as “light” by pitching gurus.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Girardi did a wonderful job with a very flawed rotation for six months. Now, when they need it most, Lee is with the Phillies and Pettitte is retired in Texas.


MISSING POP
The Tigers don’t have three Cy Young winners behind Verlander in Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

However, Alex Rodriguez finished the regular season in a slump and with a sore right knee that forced him to be scratched 40 minutes before Wednesday night’s regular season finale. And he has been dealing with a sprained left thumb since Aug. 21.

If Rodriguez can’t be a run producer in the middle of the lineup, Robinson Cano won’t see many pitches to hit. That will leave it all on Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, and it’s very difficult for two bats to carry a lineup in the postseason.

Don’t expect much from the very raw Jesus Montero, who will see a big serving of pitches away.



SHORT ON LONG MEN
No one can top the Yankee bullpen trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. Even with Detroit’s closer Jose Valverde going 49-for-49 in saves this season, the Yankees have a big edge late in the games.

Yet, what to make of Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Luis Ayala? Their numbers are very good but statistics don’t get outs in the postseason; good pitches do.

Can the Yankees feel good about any of them facing Miguel Cabrera or Victor Martinez in the fifth or sixth inning?

Or will Girardi call on Soriano and Robertson earlier to avoid matchups he doesn’t like? And will a heavier workload extract a toll on any of them?

george.king@nypost.com 

ALDS Preview Section: Three-team trade paid off for everyone

Written by NY Post coulmnist Kevin Kernan
The seeds for these 2011 playoffs were planted during batting practice of Game 1 of the 2009 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

While the Yankees were getting ready to face the Phillies on that Oct. 28, six days before they would proudly own world championship No. 27, Brian Cashman was starting to re-shape his team for the future. That’s the day he began to talk trade with Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski.

Nearly seven weeks later, the Yankees landed center fielder Curtis Granderson in a three-team trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks. Now the three teams are in the playoffs as division winners, a classic baseball trade that helped all three teams.

“This,” Cashman told the Post, “was a blockbuster.” It sure was in so many ways. The Tigers sent Granderson to the Yankees and pitcher Edwin Jackson to Arizona. The Yankees shipped lefty reliever Phil Coke to Detroit along with young center fielder Austin Jackson and right-hander Ian Kennedy to the D’backs while Arizona traded pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to Detroit.

All three teams have reaped the benefits of the deal.

“I knew Granderson would be a good player for us,” Cashman says now.

But even he didn’t know Granderson would become the weapon he has become.

Granderson blasted 41 home runs this season and stole 25 bases, the first Yankees player to accomplish the feat and the first American Leaguer to do so since Alex Rodriguez and Jose Canseco did it in 1998. The MVP candidate also drove in 119 runs and scored a whopping 136 runs.

“All I can say is that I’m thankful Curtis is doing so well because when you see what everybody else is doing, there is a lot of risk involved and a lot of exposure,” Cashman said of the monster deal.

Only Justin Verlander (24) won more games than Kennedy, who posted 21 wins and only four losses with a 2.88 ERA for the Diamondbacks. Austin Jackson, who finished second in Rookie of the Year balloting last season, is a defensive wizard and was a key component to the Tigers’ success while
Coke fills the vital role of a gutsy left-hander out of the bullpen.

Looking back on the deal, Cashman said it shows the overall strength of the Yankees organization.

“We’ve drafted well and we’ve developed well and that’s what made this trade possible,” he said.
There’s an urban myth the trade was held up in the final hours so the Yankees could purchase a scanner to share medical information about the players involved in the deal. Cashman said that is simply not true.

These are the New York Yankees after all, not some small market franchise.

“Believe me; we are fully equipped as an organization,” Cashman said, noting the real reason for the delay was that some Yankees medical people were traveling at the time.

The bottom line is that Cashman was not afraid to go out and make a big deal with an American League rival, and now, as fate would have it, the two teams will square off in the ALDS, beginning tonight at Yankee Stadium.

This is one of those trades that will be talked about for years and it is one that shows you have to give something to get something.

Baseball, as is life, is all about give and take.

Granderson is thrilled to be playing his old team.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, and playing in Detroit in the postseason will be special,” he said. “They get behind their sports teams there.” The center fielder was a fan favorite with the Tigers and was heavily involved in the community. He’s doing the same thing with the Yankees, a class act all the way. Cashman knew that when he acquired him.

Just be aware that if the Yankees make it back to the World Series and you see Cashman talking on the phone during batting practice of Game 1, he could be planting the seeds for a trade that will greatly impact the 2013 playoffs.

kevin.kernan@nypost.com 

ALDS Preview Section: Five keys for Yankees

Written by NY Post coulumnist Joel Sherman
The Yankees accomplished their first goal of 2011: reaching the playoffs and avoiding being the high-priced calamity the Red Sox became.

But the rules of engagement with the Yankees are understood, which means simply getting into the playoffs is never enough. Their mandate is 11 postseason victories. They have swept out the Twins in each of the past two years, but this season’s AL Central team is more formidable because the Tigers have a true ace and an overall more potent lineup.

These are the five keys to the Yankees in this Division Series:

1. Is CC Sabathia an ace or problem #1?
The Yankees have worried so much about what is behind CC Sabathia all year, but the reality is they probably cannot advance in the postseason without the big lefty coming up huge. But ever since returning from two rain delays on July 26 to dominate the Mariners, Sabathia has not been the same pitcher.

He gave up double-digit hits in five of his final 10 starts, a period when the opposition hit .316 with an .858 OPS. The Yankees were just 5-5 in those games and Sabathia had a 4.06 ERA. In his opening 23 starts this year, Sabathia did not allow a single 10-hit game, held opponents to a .228 average with a .583 OPS. The Yankees were 17-6 in those games and Sabathia had a 2.56 ERA.

Sabathia has become particularly susceptible to the long ball, allowing 11 homers over 682/3 innings in his last 10 starts compared to six in 168 2/3 innings in his first 23. He simply has not had the location or finish with his fastball, the pitch that sets up his overall repertoire.

An AL scout said, “I don’t want to be unfair, he is still tremendous. He is still throwing strikes, competing, but I am not seeing the swing-and-miss pitch when he needs it. The depth and explosiveness of his pitches are not what they were.”

2. Can Alex be great?
Alex Rodriguez battled knee and thumb injuries, and, thus, fell well short of extending his record of 13 straight seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. But he has talked the right talk about salvaging his year by authoring a few meaningful postseason moments that help the Yankees get a parade.

But is he capable?

Against the Tigers’ projected four starters (Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello), Rodriguez is 6-for-35 (.171) with one homer (off Verlander). Plus, he is just 2-for-15 with a homer off Detroit’s main set-up man, Joaquin Benoit. In addition, Rodriguez had to sit out the final game of the regular season with knee issues.

In the past, Rodriguez’s struggles could not only hurt the production of the team, but negatively impact the psyche, as well. That might not be the case now. But the last thing the Yankees want to deal with in the postseason is daily “what is wrong with Alex” stories.


3. Can speed kill?
The Tigers stole a major-league low 49 bases. That was 32 fewer than the White Sox, who had the second fewest in the AL. Austin Jackson had 22 steals to lead the Tigers. The next-highest total for anyone on the team was five.

In other words, the Yankees will not have to be consumed with shutting down a running game like they would have if they drew Texas in the Division Series. This allows Joe Girardi to more comfortably start Freddy Garcia in Game 3 or perhaps use A.J. Burnett out of the pen. Both are susceptible to the stolen base.

Conversely, Tigers catcher Alex Avila has thrown out 32 percent of base stealers, which is a fine mark, and only projected Game 4 starter, Rick Porcello, is particularly vulnerable to the running game. However, the stolen base was a major part of the Yankee attack this year and so expect the Yankees to continue to try to attack in this area. But Curtis Granderson all but shut down his running game late in the year and Brett Gardner all but shut down getting on base; and they are the main threats.



4. How long will Mo go?
The importance of closing a game was re-asserted on the final night of the season. The Braves’ Craig Kimbrel and the Red Sox’s Jonathan Papelbon both blew saves, and that pretty much sealed the greatest September collapses in major league history for both teams. Cory Wade could not close in Mariano Rivera’s place, and the Rays reached the playoffs.

You might remember that in 2009, seven of the eight closers in the postseason either suffered a blown save or loss and their teams were all eliminated largely due to those failings. The only closer who did not suffer such calamities was Rivera, and the Yankees won it all.

Now you have a closer duel of Jose Valverde, who led the majors in saves and did not blow one all year, vs. Rivera, the best postseason closer ever. One of the luxuries that first Joe Torre and now Girardi have enjoyed in October is the ability to unleash Rivera for more than an inning.

Rivera has produced more than three outs in a staggering 58 of his 94 postseason appearances, including six of 12 during the 2009 title run. But he is 41 now and we will have to see if he can handle it. He has only gotten more than three outs three times this year, and not done so since July 24.

However, the only AL team that Rivera has gone longer without blowing a save against than the Tigers is the Royals. The last time he did so against Detroit, Bobby Higginson hit a two-out, ninth-inning homer at the old Tiger Stadium on July 6, 1999. Since then, Rivera has gone 23 for 23 in saves against the Tigers, allowing one earned run in 371/3 innings, including the 2006 playoffs.



5. Can the switches turn it on?
The Yankees moved Robinson Cano into the third slot to honor reality ‹ he is the best hitter on the team. But that is no secret. The Tigers know that, as well. That means Cano almost certainly will be pitched around as much as possible, forcing others to carry the load.

Rodriguez just might not be physically up to it. That puts more pressure on Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. Now the Yankee lineup has worked best when they have switch-hitters flourishing. But Jorge Posada has stumbled so badly from the right side this year that he no longer can truly be considered a switch-hitter (he has not had a hit batting righty since June 30).

And Teixeira and Swisher have excelled much more from the right side than the left; their OPS from the left side is .779 and .763, respectively, compared to in the mid.900s against southpaw pitching. The Tigers are going to use four righty starters, however, so the Yankees are going to need impact from Teixeira and Swisher from the left side.

Plus, there are the poor postseason performances both have. Swisher’s .162 playoff average is the second-lowest in major league history for players with 100 at-bats and his .148 average for the Yankees is the lowest in team history for anyone with 75 at-bats. The feeling is that the high-strung, attention-seeking Swisher simply gets too revved up for these games.

In his two Yankee postseasons, Teixeira is hitting .170. He had a walk-off homer against the Twins in the 2009 Division Series. But his impact has been minimal. The feeling is that Teixeira’s swing is long with lots of holes, making him more vulnerable to the better pitching and more detailed scouting reports associated with the playoffs.

joel.sherman@nypost.com 

ALDS Preview Section: Jeter, Rivera look for another milestone: Yankees title No. 28

Written by NY Post coulumnist Mike Vaccaro
They were uncomfortable co-conspirators with history, both of them, one the iconic face of the dynastic Yankees of recent vintage, the other a man whose career is only starting to be recognized as one of the great baseball runs of all time, any position, any era.

“I’m not that comfortable with all this attention, I’ll be very honest about that,” Derek Jeter said on the Fourth of July, less than a week before he would become the first career Yankee to join the 3,000-hit club.

“It isn’t about me,” Mariano Rivera said on Labor Day, about a week and half before he would collect career save No. 602, surpassing Trevor Hoffman as the career leader in that category. “It’s never been about me, not once, not ever.”

From the time Jeter was a kid, assembling four championships in his first five years (and coming achingly close to five out of six), he made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t nearly as interested in 3,000 hits, or a lifetime .300 average, or a mantel full of MVP trophies, or a shelf stuffed with Gold Gloves, as he was in one record that obsessed him as soon as he learned of its existence.

“The only record I care about,” he said in 2000, “is Yogi’s.”

That would be Yogi Berra, who played on 10 World Series champions, the most of any man in history, a record that was believed to be as unassailable as Cy Young’s 511 wins or Ty Cobb’s lifetime .366 batting average but on the day Jeter stated it as a goal -- at age 25 -- suddenly seemed far less fanciful.

Jeter’s pace would slow down considerably, and while he did get halfway to Yogi two years ago, it’ll take a stunning late-career push to get there.

Still ... you can’t get to 10 until you get to six first. And six championships has a nice ring to it as well. Six is the total Michael Jordan amassed. Six is the number Kobe Bryant craves. Mark Messier was a part of six Stanley Cup champions. Jack Nicklaus won six Masters.

Six is the number Jeter and Rivera will be stalking across the next few weeks, as they try to collect the 11 wins that’ll make that possible.

After a year of celebration, when they took their rightful places alongside the greats of the game with their own individual achievements, Jeter, Rivera, and their 23 teammates now get after an even greater and grander number, the one Joe Girardi defiantly slaps on his back so the world will make no mistake what the baseline standard is around here.

Twenty-eight.

“I think Derek and I know how fortunate we have been to take part in so many great seasons, play on so many great teams,” Rivera said on the night the Yankees wrapped up the AL East, the 12th time the two of them have finished in first place across a full 162 games since 1996. “And we also appreciate every time we have a chance to win a championship.”

“It’s the only thing that matters,” Jeter said a few days later, before slowing his syntax for extra emphasis: “The only thing that matters.”

It has become a common part of the job description for new Yankees, the notion that anything short of a championship is considered a failed season, and once in a while it’s right to remember how much Jeter and Rivera have had to do with that. When the two of them showed up for keeps in 1996 -- joined a year later, for good, by Jorge Posada -- the Yankees were selling lots of history and tortured tributes to tradition.

But the fact is, they’d become just another team over the previous 18 years.

At the dawn of ‘96, Yankees fans spent a lot more time talking about yesterday’s Yankees than today’s, because yesterday was where most of the glory and all of the excellence resided. That changed in 1996. You can credit a lot of things for that, but it has to start with this: Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera began answering destiny’s call that year, and they’ve each had hotline connections ever since, even if they’d both minimized their part in all of that.

Thing is, the Yankees did, too, starting in ‘96, and both Jeter and Rivera gladly will expound upon that. Starting tonight, they also try to add to it.

michael.vaccaro@nypost.com

Obama praises killing of US-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

President Obama declared the killing of a fiery American-born cleric in Yemen a "major blow" to al Qaida's most active affiliate -- vowing a vigorous US campaign to prevent the terror network and its partners from finding a haven anywhere in the world.
Anwar al-Awlaki, and a second American, Samir Khan, were killed by a joint CIA-US military air strike on their convoy in Yemen early Friday, US officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters.

Both men played key roles in inspiring attacks against the US, and their killings are a devastating double blow to al-Qaida's most dangerous franchise.

Seeking to justify the targeted killing of a US citizen, Obama outlined al-Awlaki's involvement in planning and directing attempts to murder Americans.

"He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. He directed the failed attempt to blow up US cargo planes in 2010," Obama said. "And he repeatedly called on individuals in the United States and around the globe to kill innocent men, women and children to advance a murderous agenda."

Yemeni intelligence pinpointed al-Awlaki's hideout in the town of Al Khasaf, a Yemeni official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence. "He was closely monitored ever since," by Yemeni intelligence on the ground, backed by US satellite and drones from the sky, the official said.

After three weeks of tracking the targets, US armed drones and fighter jets shadowed al-Awlaki's convoy early Friday, then drones launched their lethal strike. The strike killed four operatives in all, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

Al-Awlaki was a US citizen, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, who had not been charged with any crime. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government's authority to kill an American without trial.

Al-Awlaki was targeted in the killing, but Khan, who edited a slick Jihadi Internet magazine, apparently was not targeted directly. The identity of the other two al-Quida suspects is not known, the Yemeni official said.

Khan, who was from North Carolina, wasn't considered an operational leader but had published seven issues online of Inspire Magazine, a widely read Jihadi site offering advice on how to make bombs and the use of weapons.

Obama praised Yemen's government and security forces for its close cooperation with the US in fighting Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, arguably the terror network's most dangerous affiliate. With al-Awlaki's death, Obama said the affiliate remains "a dangerous but weakened terrorist organization."

Following the strike, a US official outlined new details of al-Awlaki's involvement in anti-US operations, including the attempted Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound aircraft. The official said that al-Awlaki specifically directed the man accused of trying to bomb the airliner to detonate an explosive device over US airspace to maximize casualties.

The official also said al-Awlaki had a direct role in supervising and directing a failed attempt to bring down two US cargo aircraft by detonating explosives concealed inside two packages mailed to the US The US also believes al-Awlaki had sought to use poisons, including cyanide and ricin, to attack Westerners.

Al-Awlaki was killed by the CIA working in concert with the same US military unit that got Osama bin Laden — the elite counterterrorism unit known as the Joint Special Operations Command.
Counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and Yemen has improved in recent weeks, allowing better intelligence-gathering on al-Awlaki's movements, US officials said.

Al-Awlaki is the most prominent al-Qaida figure to be killed since bin Laden's death in May. But the killing raises questions that the death of other al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden, did not. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government's authority to kill an American without trial.

US officials have said they believe al-Awlaki inspired the actions of Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

In New York, the Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty to the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt said he was inspired by al-Awlaki after making contact over the Internet.

"The death of Anwar al-Awlaki is a welcome, signature event. Having transformed the regional al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula into a terrorist organization with global reach, he targeted Americans like no other, and he was a powerful recruiter of terrorists in the United States," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "Reports that his lieutenant, Samir Khan, was killed in the same strike are also welcome. Khan had extensive contacts in New York City and published the English language Inspire Magazine, which instructed lone wolves on how to build bombs at home, and in the most recent issue identified Grand Central Station as a target. We know al-Awlaki had followers in the United States including New York City, and for that reason we remain alert to the possibility that someone might want to avenge his death."

Al-Awlaki also is believed to have had a hand in mail bombs addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, the air cargo packages intercepted in Dubai and Europe in October 2010.

The senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, said that al-Awlaki's most dangerous operational role was his continual involvement in recruiting Americans willing to carry out terror attacks inside the US.

"His whole strategy was to go after individual jihadists inside the US who were willing to go out and attack Americans," Ruppersberger said, citing the Fort Hood shooting as an example.

Al-Awlaki wrote an article in the latest issue of the terror group's Internet magazine, justifying attacking civilians in the West. It's titled "Targeting the Populations of Countries that Are at War with the Muslims."

Al-Awlaki's father, Nasser al-Awlaki of Yemen, had sued Obama and other administration officials 13 months ago to try to stop them from targeting his son for death. The father, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, argued that international law and the Constitution prevented the administration from assassinating his son unless he presented a specific imminent threat to life or physical safety and there were no other means to stop him.
But US District Judge John Bates threw out the lawsuit in December, saying a judge does not have authority to review the president's military decisions and that al-Awlaki's father did not have the legal right to sue on behalf of his son.

Al-Awlaki served as imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., a Washington suburb, for about a year in 2001.

The mosque's outreach director, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, has said that mosque members never saw al-Awlaki espousing radical ideology while he was there and that he believes Awlaki's views changed after he left the US.

With AP

Weekend Bridge and Street Closures – October 1-2

The Manhattan-bound roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge will be closed on Saturday from 12:01 am to 7 am for rehabilitation of the ramps and approaches. Manhattan-bound motorists will be detoured to the Manhattan Bridge or may choose other crossings. The Brooklyn Bridge/Frankfort Street exit from the northbound FDR Drive will close at 11 pm on Friday. Motorists should use the prior South Street exit. The Brooklyn Queens Expressway eastbound exit to the Brooklyn Bridge will close at 11:30 pm on Friday. Motorists should proceed to the following Manhattan Bridge exit or use the prior Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (pay toll) exit for access to Manhattan. 
   
The Grand Street Bridge over Newtown Creek will be fully closed on Saturdays through November 5 from 7 am until 3 pm to perform structural repairs. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic will be detoured to the adjacent Metropolitan Avenue Bridge.
   
The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge South Outer Roadway will be closed Saturday from 1 am to 8 am to facilitate roadway work. Motorists should use the Lower Inner Roadway to Queens with access from 2nd Avenue, or cars only may access the South Upper Roadway via East 57th Street or East 58th Street.
   
59th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan will be closed from 7 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday to facilitate utility and trunk water main work by the Department of Design and Construction. Motorists should use 2nd Avenue southbound or 58th Street eastbound to access the lower level of the Queensboro Bridge.
   
There will be lane closures in both directions on the FDR Drive between East 77th Street and East 79th Street between 11 pm Friday and 6 am Saturday in connection with work on the East 78th Street Pedestrian Bridge.
   
Claremont Parkway between Washington Avenue and Webster Avenue and Park Avenue northbound between East 171st Street and East 172nd Street in the Bronx will be closed from 10 pm to 6 am Friday night to Saturday morning and Saturday night to Sunday morning for demolition of the Claremont Parkway Bridge over the Metro North Railroad between Brook Avenue and Washington Avenue.
   
 The following streets will be closed on Saturday:
  •  Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard between 110th Street and 129th Street in Manhattan will be closed from 10:30 am to 4 pm for the Harlem Children's Society Parade.
  • 6th Avenue between 38th Street and 27th Street, 27th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue, and 38th Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan will be closed from noon to 3 pm for the Korea Times Parade.
  • 3rd Avenue between 76th Street and 92nd Street in Brooklyn will be closed from 1 pm to 3 pm for the Ragamuffin Children's Parade.

The following streets will be closed on Sunday:
  • John Street between Front Street and Water Street, Water Street between Fulton Street and Fletcher Street, and Front Street between John Street and Maiden Lane in Manhattan will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the Deepavali Festival.
  • There will be street closures in Manhattan between 7:30 am and 6 pm for the Bike MS Tour. Details are available on the DOT web site’s weekend traffic advisory page at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/wkndtraf.shtml or at http://bikenyn.nationalmssociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=BIKE_NYN_NYC_Route.
  • Lexington Avenue between 42nd Street and 57th Street in Manhattan will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the Cathedral High School NYC Oktoberfest.
  • Broadway between 96th Street and 106th Street in Manhattan will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the 23rd Annual Upper Broadway Festival.
  • 3rd Avenue between 69th Street and 95th Street in Manhattan will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the 3rd Avenue Festival.
  • 5th Avenue between 39th Street and 56th Street, 36th Street and 39th Street between 6th Avenue and Madison Avenue, and 56th Street between Park Avenue and 6th Avenue in Manhattan will be closed from 12:30 pm to 3 pm for the General Pulaski Memorial Parade.
  • Liberty Street between Broadway and Trinity Place in Manhattan will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the Sons of Italy Freedom Block Party.
  • Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn will be closed from 11 am to 6 pm for the Atlantic Antic Street Festival.
The times listed for closures for street fairs are for the actual times of the street fairs themselves. The streets may be closed longer to allow for set-up and breakdown. Street fair organizers are generally permitted to begin set-up at 8 am and breakdown must be completed by 7 pm.
 
 Detailed information on weekend street closures will be available on the DOT web site at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/wkndtraf.shtml.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Weekend Service Advisories for September 30- October 2

1 Line
All times until Jun 2012
Downtown 1 service skips Dyckman St.

All times until Oct 10, 2011
Downtown 1 service skips 225 St.






2 Line
12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
Free shuttle buses replace 1 service between Franklin Av and Flatbush Av.
  • 2 service runs between 241 St and the Utica Av 3 4 station.

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.






4 Line
12:01 AM to 6:30 AM, Sat and Sun, Oct 1 – 2 and 12:01 AM to 5 AM, Mon, Oct 3
Uptown 4 service runs express from Brooklyn Bridge to 14 St-Union Sq.

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.


1 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
4 service skips Fulton St in both directions.







5 Line
6 AM to 11:30 PM, Saturday, Oct 1 and 8 AM to 11:30 PM, Sunday, Oct 2
5 service skips Fulton St in both directions.

6 AM to 11:30 PM, Saturday, Oct 1 and 8 AM to 11:30 PM, Sunday, Oct 2
5 service runs every 20 minutes between Bowling Green and Dyre Av.






6 Line
All times Until Late Oct, 2011
No 6 service to Elder Av and St Lawrence Av in both directions.

12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
Uptown 6 service runs express from Brooklyn Bridge to 14 St-Union Sq

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.






7 Line
4 AM Sat to 10 PM Sun, Oct 1 – 2
Manhattan-bound 7 service runs express from 74 St to Queensboro Plaza.




A Line
12:01 AM to 6:30 AM, Sat and Sun, Oct 1 – 2 and 12:01 AM to 5 AM, Mon, Oct 3
Uptown A trains skip Spring, 23 and 50 Sts.




C Line
6:30 AM to midnight, Sat and Sun, Oct 1 – 2
Uptown C trains skip Spring, 23 and 50 Sts.




D Line
All times until LateOct 2011
Stillwell Av-bound D trains skip 71 St.

12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
Manhattan-bound D trains run on the N from Stillwell Av to 36 St.

12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
D trains run local in both directions between 34 St-Herald Sq and W 4 St.





E Line
12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
E trains run on the F in both directions between 36 St, Queens and 34 St-Herald Sq
  • Trains travel the 63 St and 6 Av corridors, stopping at F stations.
  • Downtown trains terminate at 34 St-Herald Sq.
  • Queens-bound trains originate at 34 St-Herald Sq.
  • To/from Court Sq-23 St, use the 7.
  • To/from Queens Plaza, use the R (days & evenings) or the 7 to nearby Queensboro Plaza.
  • To/from Lexington Av-53 St, take the 7 to Grand Central-42 St and transfer to the 6 at 51 St.
  • To/from 5 Av-53 St, 7 Av and E stations along 8 Av, use the F stations on 6 Av.
  • For service between W 4 St and WTC, use the A or C.
This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.






F Line
All times until Spring 2012
F trains skip Smith-9 Sts in both directions.

12:01 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
Stillwell Av-bound F trains run on the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.






G Line
All times until Spring 2012
G trains skip Smith-9 Sts in both directions

11 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, Sep 30 – Oct 3
No G trains between Court Sq and Bedford-Nostrand Avs
  • Free shuttle buses provide alternate service
This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. For help with planning your trip, please call 718 330-1234 from 6 AM to 10 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the free 711 relay or your preferred relay service provider to contact us. For more information, read station signs.






J Line
1 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Oct 1 – 3
J shuttle trains run between Fulton St and Chambers St-Brooklyn Bridge.
  • No 4 and 5 trains at Fulton St.
4 AM Sat to 10 PM Sun, Oct 1 – 2
Jamaica Center-bound J trains skip Hewes St, Lorimer St and Flushing Av.





L Line
6 AM Sat to 6 PM Sun, Oct 1 – 2
L trains run in two sections:
1. Between 8 Av and Broadway Junction
2. Between Broadway Junction and Rockaway Pkwy, every 24 minutes
  • To continue your trip, transfer at Broadway Junction.





M Line
4 AM Sat to 10 PM Sun, Oct 1 – 2
M trains run every 20 minutes between Metropolitan Av and Myrtle Av.





Q Line
10 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, Sep 30 – Oct 3
Uptown Q trains run local from Canal St to 34 St-Herald Sq.

10 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, Sep 30 – Oct 3
Manhattan-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Prospect Park.

6 AM Sat to 6 PM Sun, Oct 1 – 2
Stillwell Av-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Brighton Beach.

A Atticus Mitchell Love Story (Anything Could Happen) Chapter 3

-Before the chapter ended-
And they all ended up in the air, off to Kiara’s house, to have some weird stay over and talk. It was awkward, the day for vampires is night, and the night is day. So everything was the other way around. You’ll never know what’ll happen out there for them, out in the sun. On their way over, they all heard a crisp howl, on the horizon, fading away as they flew farther, and farther.
________________________________________________________________

They arrived pretty fast. Vampires are quick. Maybe that explains how Kiara and the others went to class so quickly that first time. Haha. But anyways, they landed safely, all expect for Ashley. Her body pounded on the ground. It only took her a couple of seconds to realize what just happened, and moaned, in pain.

”You’re going to have to work on that.” The group said in unison, and laughed. Ashley got up fake laughed, and shook it off.

 “Hey, girls… You see that?” They all turned to look around. Ashley was completely lost. “Looks like we got ourselves some breakfast…”
    Kiara, Tatiana, and Ilana spotted a human walking down the block with her dog. Vampires like them feast on human, and animal blood. Otherwise, they’d turn to dust. They zoomed across and acted as normal as ever, asking for “directions” And, you pretty much get the idea. Kiara got the neck, Ily and Tati got both arms, as Ashley stood there, covering her face, but yet peeking through the holes of her fingers.

They all – at the same time, offered if she wanted, like if it were a piece of fresh turkey out of the oven, but she rejected it. They soon enough finished their “feast” and continued walking.

”Don’t worry; they’ll accumulate into one of us very soon. No mercy, just life.” Ashley had what Kiara said sounding like a broken record playing in her mind…

They walked inside Kiara’s home.

”Honey? Is that you?!” her mother hollered as she heard the sound of the door creaking open. She walked down the stairs to make sure who it was.

”Yeah mom, it’s me.”

“Well. Aren’t you home from school a little too early?”

”Mom! We’ve talked about this…” And she flares her fangs.

“Well, what about your –coughs- friends?”

”We’ll talk about this another time alright?”

”Got it.” She walked back into the kitchen; making dinner. But for Kiara, it was more like breakfast…

They all ran up the stairs, Ashley was left behind, following the troop. They all sat on individual bean bag chairs.

”You could sit over there,” Kiara pointed to the bed.

”Alright…” Ashley was the silent, lost one, but you know, she’ll get used to it… soon.

”So, what is this whole sit in thingamabob you planned all of a sudden, Kiki?” Asked Tatiana.

”Ohh, this is for welcoming Ashley in the group. And letting her know what she needs to know. We wouldn’t want her lost, would we?” And smirked. Even though nothing was on her mind, she always had that look on her face. “So, where should we start…? Have you met David yet? You must have, right?”

 “The smooth one that gets all the girls? Yeah, I’ve heard of him, he seems like a pretty nice guy, why do you ask?”

”Don’t fall for it! You only make that mistake once…” uttered Ilana.

”W-why?”

“Well, aren’t you just full of questions?” Kiara said.

”Just don’t. He’s a werewolf, and unless you’re one too, it won’t go very well.” Said Ilana.

”We’ve all been through it. Werewolfs are the most risky people ever! They turn on you when they get mad! But sometimes, they could be the sweetest guys ever. Don’t fall into the trap though. Did he already ask you to go to subway tonight?” Tatiana asked.
”He did actually! With his Brooklyn accent?”
”Yeah, he does that to every girl! But it never gets old, does it, guys?”

”Nope, not at all.” Ily, Tati, and Kiara said.
”Wow! So tell me, continue on with what you know, about people, err- special, people.”
”ATTICUS!” Kiara quickly said.
”WHERE?!” Ashley jumped up from her seat.
”No where… but he’s adorable right?”

They all had a little spasm attack moment there saying “I know right?!” back and forth to each other. They were still all teenagers, just one little difference.

”Okay, back to reality. But seriously isn’t he just the dreamiest thing ever?!”
Ashley blushed “Yesssss…”

”We’re all friends with him. Do you want to get to know him?!” Kiara said excitedly, hoping Ashley would say yes.
”He DID tell me he was friends with a lot of vampires…”
”…Is that a yes or a no?” She said still smiling and anxiously holding her cell phone in her hand.
”Later when this whole get together is over.”

There was a long pause...

”…OKAY THE GET TOGETHER IS OVER” Kiara said grinning ready to dial the numbers. Everyone laughed.

Ashley put her hand with the phone down and only starred at her, like if she were saying “You know what I meant” sort of way…
”…Fine, but make it fast, im so anxious now!!!”
”Haha okay, so, anymore powers, or hidden secrets I should know about?”

 ”If you’re a fledgling and still haven’t drunk blood from an animal or a human, you’re in a zone of being alive, but still a vampire. To get out of that confusion, you have to drink blood. You’ll be a true vampire, like your ‘mark says. Once your in “True Vampire” stage, you have to drink blood, at least once a week, or you, you know-“Tatiana got stopped by Kiara.
”You’ll disinagrate and become dust. Id rather live thousands of years than turn into dust, if I were you.”
”It’s really not that bad when you actually do it. We were all given that test. Blood tastes like everything you LOVE to eat, as a mortal, put together, and drank it like a drink. The bad part is the biting thing” Ilana stopped. And they all shivered thinking of sinking their teeth into mortals.

Ashley looked disgusted.

”How’d you become a vampire? By birth, spells, witchcraft, were you bitten?” Tatiana asked.
”Birth”
Kiara jumped from her seat “What? Do you still age?!”
”My birthday is 5 months from now. Im going to turn 17.”
”Ouuu…..” the three said together.
”Welcome to the rest of your life…”
“Is this something I should know about?” Ashley questioned.

“There are different types of vampires. The ones BORN a vampire, like yourself, age, until their 17, you stop aging from there. You’re new in the industry. We existed for thousands of years! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting pretty tired thinking about it! But let me finish. There are some that turn into vampires by spells and/or witchcraft. They could be something like “True loves first kiss must break the spell” and when it happens; you turn back to your normal self… which is REALLY old. Never ever happening. Luckily, that isn’t like us. All three of us got bitten…”
Ashley sat there waiting from someone else to continue. Kiara began to cry at the thought that she got bitten. She doesn’t want to be a vampire. She wants to be someone normal. Not a decaying old woman inside a 17 year old body. The purpose of them staying 17 was so that they could stay young forever, but only by drinking the blood of someone else.

”Its going to be okay, Kiara,” Ashley pats her back.
”No, its fine. I just… can’t get over the fact im a soul-less creature. I can’t come out in pictures, I can’t live a normal life, I stay the same age forever, I have no feelings, but I make it work out, and just a whole bunch of other things.” She said wiping her tears.
Ilana whispers “It takes a lot to make Kiki cry, so you know she actually means it”
“Gosh…”

Kiara sniffs one more time “OKAY, let’s continue –smiles- Have you heard about the secret names we have? We all have one when transformed… It relates to what our emotions were as a mortal, most of the time. Mine is Faith”
”Mines is Laugher” Ilana said
”And mines is Emotional” Tatiana added.
”How could you tell?” Asked Ashley
”This whole stage process when you get bitten. You don’t have one because you were a birth vampire…”


“Oh alright, well, anymore HAZARDOUS things I should know about?”
”Don’t stay out in the sun, for too long or touch anything that contains light. You’ll burn. Don’t get near holy water, you’d shrivel. Emm… don’t drink the blood of a rabid animal. Blah. But other than that, your good to go” Kiara said, putting two thumbs up.
”Haha, okay, this was actually really helpful, Ki- em… can I call you Kiki”
”’Course, that IS my nick name, isn’t it?” And smiles “OKAY, we could call Atticus now!!!”

“But first…” Ashley puts down the phone on Kiara’s hand again. “Tell me alittle about him. He’s a great guy?”

“The amazing-est!”
”The best-est!”
”The incredible-est!”

Before they knew it, Ilana and Tatiana were having a contest on that. Haha, they eventually stopped…

”All three of us are best friends with him. He’s the kind of guy that’ll be there when your crying, the one that’ll hug you from behind, just to say hi, even if your just friends, and the kind of best friends that’ll say he loves you, constantly, to remind you. Just a guy you have to love. He has the brightest hazel-ish, green-ish eyes, ever. And he’s SUPER TALL. He’s taller than me, and im a giant Hahaha! But yeah, sorcerers are incredible people, and they’ll go after the people they want in their lives. But you can’t really tell when he’s really trying, he treats everyone the same.”
Ashley was just mesmerized by the description on Atticus that Kiara finished saying. She had both hands on her face, admiring his face in her mind, after all, she did have a perfect memory.

”So, ready to call?! Please say yes?”
“YES, YES, YES, DIAL THOSE NUMBERS, PRESS THE TALK BUTTON, AND LETS GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD.” Everyone laughed.

Kiara dialed the number really fast; she already knew it by heart. It rang… for a really long time. Kiara was about to hang up before the “BEEP” came on, but he obviously picked up.


“Hello?”
”Hey, Atticus!”
”Haha, hey beautiful, how’s it going”
Kiara’s heart skipped a beat. It was a friendly love though. “Aww, im fine, I have a couple of friends wanting to talk to you” She smirked, and looked at everyone doing the same thing, doing hand gestures saying to “Cut the line” or “NO, NO, NO!” They were all shy, all expect Kiara.
”Aw, really? Who?”

”You know Ilana and Tatiana right?”
”Of course, you’re my 3 musketeers. Mine, haha”
”What about Ashley?”
”The new girl? I know her, I met her today actually, she seemed pretty cool…” He remembered when he grabbed her hand; it was more than “pretty cool”.

“Anything else, Atticus?” She said it as if he were hiding something.
”Emm, well…”
”Come on! You could tell me anything…”
”I know, but, is she there now?”

Kiara looked at Ashley, and she nodded her head no, repeatedly. She finally answered.
”You know, you… just missed her. Why do you ask?”
He started to whisper into the phone...