Both clubs face short turnarounds for Saturday night's series opener at Yankee Stadium, with Cabrera and Rodriguez in the spotlight for far different reasons.
These teams advanced from grueling five-game division series thanks to two wins apiece from their respective aces, CC Sabathia of New York and reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander for Detroit.
Each pitcher went the distance to capture Game 5, with Verlander coming through in a 6-0 win at Oakland on Thursday and Sabathia in a 3-1 home victory Friday over Baltimore.
That rules out the aces for this weekend's two games in the Bronx, and the focus instead figures to be on the hitters - and Cabrera in particular.
Cabrera turned in a season for the ages with a .330 average, 44 homers and 139 RBIs. He went 5 for 20 with one RBI in the Oakland series, and is a .179 hitter in 11 postseason games against the Yankees.
The slugger, however, has hit safely in all 13 of his LCS games, batting .360 with six homers, 13 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
"He is just a great hitter," Yankees starter Andy Pettitte said. "Obviously he doesn't have a whole lot of holes. He's got power to the opposite field, and he's got obviously pull power. So when you have got a guy like that, he's tough to get out."
Pettitte (0-1, 3.86 ERA) will start Game 1 after giving up three runs over seven-plus innings in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles. Cabrera is 4 for 12 with two homers against him in regular-season play to go along with eight hitless at-bats in the 2003 World Series with Florida.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, is in the news for his woes. The third baseman was benched for a playoff game Friday for the first time with New York, with manager Joe Girardi saying the star is "going through a difficult time."
However, Girardi penciled Rodriguez into the starting lineup for Game 1 but dropped the slugger to sixth in the order.
Friday's benching came after he was pinch-hit for in each of the previous two games against Baltimore. Raul Ibanez batted for Rodriguez and hit a tying homer in the ninth inning Wednesday before adding a game-winning blast in the 12th for a 3-2 victory.
Rodriguez is 2 for 16 with nine strikeouts in the postseason. He went 2 for 18 in last year's division series against Detroit, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in a 3-2 home loss in Game 5.
"I'm not happy and obviously disappointed," Rodriguez said before Friday's contest. "Want to be in there in the worst way."
It might not benefit the righty-hitting Rodriguez that the Tigers will start only right-handers in this series, beginning with Doug Fister (0-0, 2.57) on Saturday.
Fister went 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in two division series games against New York last year as he returns to the site where he prevailed in Game 5 by allowing one run over five innings. Rodriguez went 0 for 4 against him in that series to drop to 1 for 9 in his career.
The Tigers right-hander yielded two runs over seven innings Sunday and did not get a decision in a 5-4 home win over the A's.
New York has many other struggling hitters besides A-Rod. Robinson Cano is 2 for 22, Nick Swisher is 2 for 18 and former Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson improved to 3 for 19 after homering in his two-hit performance Friday.
Detroit is appearing in the ALCS in consecutive years for the first time after falling to Texas last season. The Tigers won eight of 10 to close the regular season to overtake Chicago for the AL Central title before blowing a two-game lead against the A's and advancing thanks to Verlander.
"We don't want to be satisfied," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Now we're there. But we've been there before. Now we want that next step. We want eight more wins."
Cabrera was just 3 for 15 - albeit with five walks - in last year's division series, but now he's being protected by Prince Fielder , who is trying to improve a .192 career postseason average.
"Obviously you have Cabrera in there and Fielder, great hitters," Pettitte said. "Just hope you can get out there and make quality pitches."
The Yankees left-hander may be equally concerned about Delmon Young , who is 13 for 24 against him including postseason. Young had three solo homers in last year's division series.
Young will be playing his first games in New York since he was arrested there in April on a hate crime harassment charge following a fight at his hotel during which police say he yelled anti-Semitic epithets.
Pettitte is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three postseason starts at the new Yankee Stadium, where he last pitched in the playoffs in the 2010 ALCS. He has never faced the Tigers there and hasn't pitched against them anywhere since 2008.
New York won six of 10 meetings in the regular season, with Granderson posting team highs of four homers and 12 RBIs. Cabrera and Fielder combined for eight homers and 18 RBIs.
Barring any weather problems, the Yankees will become the first team ever to host MLB postseason games on five straight days in Sunday's Game 2 after playing the final three at home against the Orioles.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers took the lead on Delmon Young 's ringing double in the 12th inning. Then came the blow that really staggered the New York Yankees .
A little grounder up the middle left Derek Jeter sprawled in the dirt, screaming in pain. The Yankees had lost more than the AL championship series opener - they had lost their captain for the rest of the postseason with a broken left ankle.
Detroit's 6-4 win and Jeter's injury on Saturday night capped a game of wild swings and wild swings of emotion.
"Watching Jete go down was, and still is, a very difficult moment for us as a team and what he means to us, a great player and the great leader that he is," said Raul Ibanez , who hit yet another tying home run as the Yankees rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the ninth inning.
Jeter rolled when he reached down in an attempt to glove Jhonny Peralta 's grounder up the middle in the 12th, planted his left foot and tumbled, landing on his stomach. Unable to move, he made a backhand flip toward second baseman Robinson Cano - the same motion he made in the famous play against Oakland 11 years ago.
Jeter was down for about a minute and was helped up, then assisted to the dugout with manager Joe Girardi on his left and trainer Steve Donahue on his right.
"They talked about a three-month recovery period," Girardi said. "Won't jeopardize his career, but he will not be playing any more for us this year."
Jeter, who extended his career record earlier in the game with his 200th postseason hit, has been playing with a sore left foot for weeks. He joined closer Mariano Rivera on the sidelines. Rivera tore a knee ligament in May while shagging fly balls before a game in Kansas City.
"It is kind of a flashback to when Mo didn't get up," Girardi said. "Oh, boy, if he is not getting up, something's wrong. We have seen what he played through in the last month and a half, and the pain he has been in, and how he found a way to get (through) it. So it brought back a flashback for me."
Still, without Rivera, the Yankees won the AL East for the 13th time in 17 years.
"I think some people left us for dead when Mo went down, and here we are in the ALCS." Girardi said. "And Jete is going to tell us, `Let's go."'
Eduardo Nunez will fill Jeter's roster spot, with Jayson Nix likely taking over at shortstop.
"We've got to win this series. Somebody's got to step in and fill that spot," said Andy Pettitte , Saturday's starting pitcher.
Detroit was coasting toward a 4-0 win before the Yankees rocked Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth.
Valverde has allowed seven runs in three playoff games and could lose his closer's role to Octavio Dotel .
"We really want to put our heads together and discuss it first, to be honest with you, and get together as a coaching staff and talk about it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Valverde is already looking toward his next possible appearance.
"There's nothing you can do. It's in the past. It's over, and you have to be ready for tomorrow," Valverde said. "I have confidence for me and for my team, and I'll be there to support my team."
Ichiro Suzuki started the Yankees' comeback with a two-run homer with one out in the ninth, and the 40-year-old Ibanez hit another two-run drive with two outs. Three nights earlier, Ibanez hit a tying home run in the ninth against Baltimore in Game 3 of the division series and another homer in the 12th to win it.
"If we are going to be good enough, we have to be able to take a punch, and we took a big punch," Leyland said. "We took a right cross in the ninth inning but we survived it."
Young's one-out double off David Phelps , which followed a leadoff walk by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera , sliced in right and eluded Nick Swisher , who appeared ready to dive but couldn't get his glove out when he realized the ball was closer to him than he had thought.
"I thought I had a great jump, but then I got caught in the lights, and I lost it for a few seconds," Swisher said. "I was completely blind. It's a helpless feeling. I really thought I could make that play."
Young drove in three runs, hitting an RBI single in a two-run sixth against Pettitte, and a solo homer in the eighth against Derek Lowe . That gave him a Tigers record six postseason homers, breaking a tie with Hank Greenberg and Craig Monroe .
"We're big leaguers. Things are going to happen," Young said. "The other team wants to drive Mercedes-Benzes and eat Morton's, too. ... We got back in to play the 10th inning. Everyone just regrouped, and basically a 0 0 ballgame."
Tigers rookie Avisail Garcia singled in a run against Boone Logan , and Andy Dirks added an RBI single in the 12th on a comebacker that glanced off Phelps' pitching hand.
Rookie Drew Smyly , who had started warming up in the third when starter Doug Fister took a line drive off his right wrist, got the win by pitching two scoreless innings, ending a 4-hour, 54-minute marathon.
In Game 2 on Sunday, New York will start Hiroki Kuroda , who will be pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his big league career. Detroit will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound.
Twenty-five of 42 previous Game 1 winners have gone on to take the AL pennant.
Before the 12th, the star of the night was Ibanez, the first player to hit three home runs in the ninth inning or later in a single postseason.
On Wednesday, he hit a tying shot as a pinch hitter, and three innings later became the first player to hit two homers in a postseason game he didn't start.
This made him the first player in baseball history with two tying ninth-inning home runs in a single postseason, according to STATS LLC. Cincinnati's Johnny Bench , in 1972 and 1976, had been the only player to do it twice in a career.
Fister escaped three bases-loaded jams in the first six innings - the first time in their 375 postseason games the Yankees stranded a trio of runners three times without scoring in any of those innings, according to STATS LLC.
Alex Rodriguez , back in New York's lineup following a benching in Friday's division series finale, was 0 for 3 and stranded six runners - striking out on three pitches with runners at second and third and no outs in the sixth as fans booed loudly.
Girardi sent up Eric Chavez to hit for A-Rod in the eighth, the third time Rodriguez was taken out early in the last three games he has played.
Not that A-Rod's teammates were any better. The Yankees stranded 13 runners and were 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position, leaving them at 10 for 45 (.222) in the playoffs.
Fister, who beat the Yankees in Game 5 of last year's division series, had a shaky start, walking the bases loaded in the first and allowing three two-out singles in the second.
Rodriguez bounced into a forceout that ended the first, with shortstop Peralta making a spectacular diving stop. In the second, Cano lined a ball off the inside of Fister's right wrist, and Peralta picked up the ball on a bounce and threw to first for the out. Both plays were so close that even replays didn't definitively show whether the calls were correct.
Detroit was so concerned about Fister's wrist that Smyly started warming up in the third. Fister changed from a short sleeve undershirt into long sleeves and stayed in the game for 6 1-3 scoreless innings. His finest moment came with Detroit leading 2-0 in the sixth. After fanning Rodriguez, he loaded the bases with a walk to Swisher, then struck out Curtis Granderson and Martin with breaking balls.
Fister allowed six hits, struck out five and walked four.
"It was a little stiff, little sore, but nothing too major," he said of his wrist. "I went in and checked it out, and made sure nothing was remarkably hurt. Put on some sleeves to keep warm, and went back out there."
Rodriguez was dropped to sixth in the batting order for the first time since the 2006 playoff finale against Detroit, but the key situations find the $275 million man no matter where he is. He is hitting .105 (2 for 19) with no RBIs in the postseason, going hitless in 15 at-bats against right-handed pitchers with 10 strikeouts. A-Rod hasn't homered in 87 at-bats since Sept. 14.
Cano (2 for 28), Granderson (3 for 23) and Swisher (3 for 23) also remained mired in deep postseason slumps, with Swisher's eighth-inning double the only hit among the three.
Making his record 44th postseason start, Pettitte gave up two runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Afterward, the Yankees clubhouse was as quiet as it ever is. The loss of Jeter weighed on the minds of his teammates more than the defeat,
"I think we probably feel more for him than anyone else because we know how important it means to him personally," Teixeira said.
NOTES: Leyland is 2-4 in previous LCS he has managed. ... On a cool, 49-degree night, there were empty seats in the top two decks in the outfield for the second straight day.