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Posts Tagged ‘ALCS’

Yankees (0-3) vs. Tigers (3-0)

Pitching Matchup:

LHP CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.53) vs RHP Max Scherzer (0-0, 0.00)

Yankees Lineup

Suzuki LF
Swisher RF
Cano 2B
Teixeira 1B
Ibanez DH
Chavez 3B
Martin C
Gardner CF
Nunez SS

The game will take place at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. It’s scheduled to start at 8:00p.m. ET. The game will be televised on TBS. The game can be heard on WCBS 880 and ESPN Radio.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Yankees (0-2) vs. Tigers (2-0)

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Phil Hughes (0-0, 1.35) vs RHP Justin Verlander (2-0, 0.56)

Yankees Lineup

Gardner LF
Suzuki RF
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Ibanez DH
Martin C
Chavez 3B
Granderson CF
Nunez SS

The game will take place at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. It’s scheduled to start at 8:07p.m. ET. The game will be televised on TBS. The game can be heard on WCBS 880 and ESPN Radio.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Yankees (0-1) vs. Tigers (1-0)

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (0-0, 2.16) vs RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 2.84)

Yankees Lineup

Suzuki LF
Cano 2B
Teixeira 1B
Ibanez DH
Martin C
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Nix SS

The game will take place at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. It’s scheduled to start at 4:00p.m. ET. The game will be televised on TBS. The game can be heard on WCBS 880 and ESPN Radio.

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(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Yankees (0-0) vs. Tigers (0-0)

Pitching Matchup:

LHP Andy Pettitte (0-1, 3.86) vs RHP Doug Fister (0-0, 2.57)

Yankees Lineup

Jeter SS
Sukuki LF
Cano 2B
Teixeira 1B
Ibanez DH
Rodriguez 3B
Swisher RF
Granderson CF
Martin C

The game will take place at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. It’s scheduled to start at 8:00p.m. ET. The game will be televised on TBS. The game can be heard on WCBS 880 and ESPN Radio.

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The Yankees open up the American League Championship Series tonight against the Detroit Tigers. Here are the pitching probables for the series:

Sat: LHP Andy Pettitte (0-1, 3.86) vs RHP Doug Fister (0-0, 2.57)

Sun: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (0-0, 2.16) vs RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 2.84)

Mon: RHP Phil Hughes (0-0, 1.35) vs RHP Justin Verlander (2-0, 0.56)

Tue: LHP CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.53) vs RHP Max Scherzer (0-0, 0.00)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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Chris Russo is right about one thing. The Yankees did get annihilated by the Texas Rangers. The idea that Phil Hughes isn’t a very good pitcher because he didn’t pitch well int he ALCS is a whole other topic. Give it a listen:

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Throughout the season, you kept on hearing about how well the Yankees were playing and why they were the favorites to win the World Series. They spent 94 days in first place. On the other hand, the Texas Rangers were certainly considered a formidable opponent, but you didn’t hear people talk about them like they were on top of the American League. The Yankees, Rays and Phillies were thought to be the strongest teams in all of baseball.

By Season Half: New York Yankees

First Half: (W-L, 56-32) RS: 469  RA: 352  WP: .636

Second Half: (W-L, 39-35) RS: 390  RA: 341  WP: .527

As the season was winding down, the Yankees looked as if they were dragging their feet across the finish line. They weren’t playing like they did in the first half of the season. Girardi was resting players when they didn’t lock up the AL East division. I just never understood how you could bench your starters (even if they could use a day of rest) if you are in the middle of a pennant race. The bottom of the lineup consisted of Ramiro Pena, Austin Kearns and Juan Miranda. That wasn’t going to cut it with the fans. It’s always good to give your players a rest, especially if you expect to go deep into October, but you can do all that once you lock up that playoff spot.

The month of September didn’t turn out  the way the Yankees had envisioned it. It wound up being the worst month of the season, compiling a W-L record of 12-15 (.444). They were playing under .500 baseball during the most important part of the season. Their offense may have been doing just fine during that period, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the large deficits the pitching staff was placing them in. In the last 12 games of the regular season, the pitching was horrendous, allowing an average of 6.3 runs per game. In that time, they went from 2.5 games up in the division to 1 game back. In the end, the Yankees (95-67) handed the division over to the Rays (96-66). You were actually hearing rumblings from the fans about how they “might not make the playoffs” (even though they had a nice lead over the Red Sox) during the month of September. They took the AL Wild Card and stumbled into the postseason. They had a clean slate after that. They gained some confidence when they swept the Twins in the ALDS. After seeing the Rangers take the Rays in five games, it looked like Texas was for real.

The Yankees took Game #1 of the ALCS, but you wouldn’t see them laughing after that. The Rangers would go on to win the next three games of the series (Lewis won Game #2, Lee won Game #3, & blew out the Yankees 10-3 in Game #4). Lewis pitched really well for the Rangers, but he’s not the type of pitcher who should be shutting down the Yankees. The ball was given to CC Sabathia in Game #5, and he pitched well enough to force a Game #6 (even though he didn’t have his best stuff that day).

The Yankees had their season lay in the balance, and they gave Phil Hughes the ball. Colby Lewis shut down the Yankees offense in embarassing fashion. The Rangers batters eventually got to Hughes in the 5th inning, and it was all over. You can blame the manager in some instances, you can blame the lineup and the pitching staff. In general, the team didn’t play up to what they were really capable of. There were a few players who stood out, such as Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Curtis Granderson. That wouldn’t be enough to get this team to the Fall Classic. The Rangers simply outplayed them in every facet of the game.

We all saw the Rays get knocked off by the Rangers, the Rangers eliminate the Yankees and the Giants beat the Phillies. Now, you can ask yourself..how did that happen? Back in July, the Rangers swooped in and grabbed Cliff Lee from the Mariners, which made them a major threat to anyone they would face in the postseason. Their offense was rolling on all cylinders, and the young arms on the team raised their level of play when it mattered most. Some might say the New York Yankees were the better team, but they simply didn’t step up in big situations. During the regular season, the Yankees went 4-4 against Texas. The Rangers came to play, and they earned every right to be in the World Series. Sometimes, the better team doesn’t always win.

  (2nd From L-R) Kerry Wood #39, Mariano Rivera #42, Derek Jeter #2, And Andy Pettitte #46 Of The New York Yankees Look

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New York Yankees Starting Pitcher Phil Hughes Participates

Game #6 of the American League Champipnship Series is upon us. The Yankees face elimination once again, as they send Phil Hughes to the mound in Arlington, Texas. Hughes owns a a record of (W-L, 6-1) with a 3.75 ERA in 8 starts on five days rest this season. Back in 2007, Phil Hughes relieved Roger Clemens in Game #3 of the ALDS, and tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the Yankees alive. He was smacked around like he was tossing batting practice in his last start, so it’s hard to pitcture him doing any worse. This will be the most important start of Phil’s career, and he may never get another chance like this.

Dave Eiland’s Game Plan:

  1. Establish the Fastball on both sides of the plate
  2. Introduce the Curveball early
  3. Use the Changeup

Feel free to say a prayer…

“Our father who art in the Bronx, Baseball be thy name..Thy will be done…The Playoffs won……On the field, as well as in the bullpen…Give us this day our bat & glove, and forgive us for our errors, as we forgive those who homer against us. Lead us not into defeat, but help us beat the Rangers. In the name of the fans, Mr Steinbrenner and in the name of the Yankees. Amen” – The Lord’s Prayer

“Do not be afraid of the Rangers. The Yankees, your God, who are going before you, will fight for you, as they did for you in Minnesota, before your very eyes, and in the Bronx.” – Your Friend, Moses

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The prevailing logic holds that the Yankees, even should they win tonight to force a game 7, will almost certainly have no chance against Cliff Lee in a Game 7 – especially one played at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Logic is wonderful thing. Without it, many of the things we take for granted would never have been created. But, as any Yankee fan knows, you just can’t predict baseball. Besides, there is a historical precedent that is eerily similar to the Yankees – Rangers series.

In 1985, the Toronto Blue Jays won game 4 of that year’s ALCS. It was the first year of the 7 game format in the LCS and under the old rules, would have meant Toronto would have won their first pennant. Instead, they grabbed what still seemed a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series. Even if they failed to win game 5 in Kansas City (yes, Kansas City once had really good teams), they would have games 6 & 7 at home. Lined up for a game 7 start was Toronto’s ace, Dave Steib. How good had Steib been up to that point? In his first two starts of that postseason, he had allowed 1 run on five hits – in 14 2/3 innings. KC was looking at what seemed to be an impossible hole to crawl out of.

But then KC won game 5. Toronto was forced to ship their gear – and the champagne they ordered – back to Toronto. Toronto was still confident and playing with the looseness of a team that expected they still had the series in control.

Then KC won game 6. Doubt began to trickle into the city of Toronto. After all, most of the prognosticators prior to the series had picked the Royals. They had the postseason experience. They had the best player in the game, in George Brett – even if he was starting to age some. But, Toronto had that equalizer in Steib.

Game 7 commenced much the way Royals fans expected. Steib showed a few signs of the stress of the situation, allowing two runs. But the game was tied going into the 6th. That’s when IT happened.

Steib got the first batter of the inning to hit a weak flyball to center; 1 out. Then he walked Brett and followed that up by hitting  the next batter. A ground out and walk to Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni loaded the bases with two outs. Despite struggling with his normally impeccable command, Steib was only 1 pitch from getting out of the jam. Unfortunately for him, Jim Sundberg ripped that next pitch into the right field gap for a bases clearing triple. Steib left the game and Toronto never recovered, ultimately losing the game 6-2. And the series, 4-3. As for the champagne, KC purchased it for $1 per bottle – $1 Canadian, that is.

Like Toronto that year, Texas is in their first ever ALCS. Like Toronto that year, Texas has a seemingly unhittable pitcher lined up for game 7. Like Toronto that year, Texas lost game 5 on the road and has to rely on their fourth best pitcher for game 6.

In the end, the better team (the one with the best player of his generation) won that 1985 series (and went on to win the World Series). I suspect the same thing will happen again.

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  Cliff Lee #33 Of The Texas Rangers Looks On In The Dugout In The Ninth Inning Against The New York Yankees  In Game

As much has been made of the Yanks starting pitcher’s inability to get past the National Anthem without surrendering multiple runs, an even bigger question is burning in the Bronx: why is the offense suddenly MIA?

Consider: thus far, the Yankees have scored in 4 of 27 innings. In three of those innings, only one run crossed the plate – and two of those were courtesy of Robinson Cano solo homers. As memorable as the 5 run outburst in the 7th inning of game 1 may be for the dramatics, it stands in danger of being memorable simply because it is the only time all series the Yankees managed to tack multiple runs on the board. Compare that to the Rangers, who have scored in 8 of their 27 innings – and scored multiple runs in 7 of them. Granted, Cliff Lee may be the best big-game pitcher in the game today (which is a BIG reason he’ll be welcomed in the Bronx next year), but even removing last night’s game shows the Yankees are being outslugged by the Rangers.

Outslugged by the Rangers? Yep. Take away last night’s game and the aggregate score is Rangers 12, Yankees 8.

The key to winning this series now may very well be the Yankees ability to win the next three straight. As well as Lee is pitching right now, the idea of facing him in a game 7 should fill every fan with dread. Can the Yankees win three straight? Certainly, especially with the next two at Yankee Stadium. But they need to get the bats off their shoulders and start scoring, preferably early and often. Otherwise, it won’t matter that Lee is lined up for game 7.

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(Photos courtesy of Steve Scott/WCBS 880)

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Tonight, the Yankees start the second leg of the Chase for 28 in Arlington, Texas. The game is on TBS and coverage begins at 8pm ET.

The Yankees got to this point by disposing of the Twins in 3 straight, while the Rangers are coming off a much more grueling 5 game victory over the Rays. The teams split their regular season series at 4 wins apiece – but this is the postseason, where the Yankees have historically owned the Rangers. But these aren’t your father’s Rangers. Those teams tried to club you into submission; this one features some pitching and speed in addition to the power.

During the regular season, the Rangers cruised to the AL West crown, finishing 9 games ahead of Oakland. Still, they would have finished third in the AL East, only one game ahead of Boston – and Boston was never really in the race after the All-Star break.

Let’s break it down.

Rotations:

Each team is planning on going with a four man rotation, although if either is down 3-0 the smart money is the game four starter will change.

Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. CJ Wilson

In the battle of Starters With Initials For Names, Sabathia is the Yankee ace and won 21 games this year. Wilson is the Rangers version of Phil Hughes, emerging from the bullpen to realize his potential this season. In their respective starts in the ALDS, Sabathia worked through 6 innings, demonstrating why he’s an ace: even without great command or life on his pitches, he kept the Yankees in the game until the team solved Francisco Liriano. The guy just finds a way to win, especially in prime-time. Wilson dominated the Rays in Game 2 of that series.

Game 2: Phil Hughes vs. Colby Lewis

Hughes gets the ball in Arlington, where he’s pitched well in the past. Lewis is a reclamation project, being rescued from Japan. Hughes went 18-8 while Lewis parked a 12-13 record. Each pitcher is relatively inexperienced in the postseason and will be making their second start, although Hughes also pitched out of the pen in last year’s postseason run to #27. In their previous starts, Hughes dominated the Twins in winning the clincher. Lewis was nearly as effective in game 3 against the Rays.

Game 3: Andy Pettite vs. Cliff Lee

The marquee matchup of this series pits Pettite, the all-time leader in starts and wins in the postseason against the Rangers ace – who has been dominant the past two years in October. Prepare for one of those classic 1-0 type games.

Game 4: AJ Burnett vs. Tommy Hunter

Burnett is basically like the lost lamb trying to find his way back, after a season in which he posted career highs in hit batters and ERA while posting a career worst WHIP. It was an ugly year for AJ and is pretty much getting the start only because the Yanks don’t want to burn out CC before the World Series. However, the Rangers may be the perfect team for AJ to get his groove back – the only teams he was statistically better against in 2010 were the Royals and Indians. Hunter posted career highs in wins, starts and innings pitched, but he’s very much a pitcher who relies on guile and command. Yankee Stadium in October isn’t exactly conducive to easing rattled nerves for opposing players (just ask the Angels from last year).

Because the Rangers had to go the distance with Tampa Bay, the Yankees catch a huge break: Rangers ace and Yankee-killer Cliff Lee will, at best, get 2 starts (games 3 & 7). But the odds are this series won’t go the full 7 games. Edge: Yankees

Bullpens:

The Yankees have the ultimate post season weapon in closer Mariano Rivera, and set him up rather nicely with Kerry Wood, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and lefty Boone Logan. Despite the Rangers being primarily right-handed offensively, Logan still figures to be an important weapon out of the pen against Josh Hamilton.

The Rangers feature first-year closer Neftali Feliz and veteran lefty swing-man Darren Oliver. After that, it’s a hope, a prayer and somebody getting thrown to the wolves. The primary set-up man this year is Darren O’Day, but expect lefties Michael Kirkman and Derrek Holland to see plenty of action, as well. The Rangers also added another lefthander, Clay Rapada, to the roster for this series. Edge: Yankees

Offenses:

The Yankees led the league in scoring and the lineup is so deep that veteran All-Star Lance Berkman hits 8th. MVP candidate Robinson Cano is joined by perennial All-Stars Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in the 100RBI club, and 5 Yankees went deep 25 or more times in 2010. When future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter is the weakest link in your lineup, you’re pretty set offensively. The Yankees also have speed in Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner (3rd in steals). Marcus Thames adds a proven power bat off the bench. The key to holding the Yankees down is hoping that Joe Girardi goes insane and starts IF Ramiro Pena and OF Greg Golson.

The Rangers boast some serious offense with the likes of CF/LF Josh Hamilton (also an MVP candidate), RF Nelson Cruz, DH Vladimir Guerrero, 3B Michael Young and 2B Ian Kinsler. SS Elvis Andrus and CF Julio Borbon add speed, but not much pop and not much in the way of getting on base. OF Jeff Francouer was brought over from the Mets to add a RH bat off the bench and pair with lefty OF David Murphy. The Rangers are offensively challenged at C and 1B, although C Bengie Molina can turn on a mistake. Still, the Rangers are only a real force offensively in positions 2-6. Edge: Yankees

Defenses:

The Rangers are a solid team defensively, particularly in the outfield, where the speed of Hamilton, Cruz and Borbon lets them get to a lot of balls and both Hamilton and Cruz feature excellent throwing arms. On the infield, Kinsler and Young don’t make many mistakes, but both have been compared to statues in the past. Catcher Molina is a weapon against opponents running games, but more importantly works well with the pitching staff. Reserve C Matt Treanor also figures to get at least one start. SS Andrus has terrific range and a good arm, but can be erratic at times. Manager Ron Washington has done a terrific job in shoring up what was once one of the worst defenses in baseball, but the Rangers aren’t on par with 1976 Reds yet.

The Yankees feature Gold Glove defense at 1B, 2B and LF. The greatest weakness is behind the plate, where C Jorge Posada had a sub-par year both throwing and blocking balls. Reserve C Francisco Cervelli seems destined to get the game 4 start, but has only been marginally better. Edge: Yankees

On the whole, the Yankees are clearly the better team. Watch out if the Yankees win the first two in Texas – this series could be over before Cliff Lee even takes the hill in game 3. Pick: I was originally going to say Yankees in 5, but I talked myself into it…

Yankees in a sweep.

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