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ALCS 2010 Game One: Sabathia Vs. Wilson

This Friday night, at Texas Stadium, the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers will take the field for Game 1 of the ALCS.

Both teams promise a battle with the hopes of winning a chance to play in the 2010 World Series.

On the mound, both Texas and New York are starting left-handed pitchers, who also share similar abbreviated first names that begin with the letter ‘C’, but that is about it.

For the Rangers, sending out 29-year old CJ (Christopher John) Wilson to face the Yankees ace and CY Young candidate CC (Carsten Charles) Sabathia will be the biggest test for Wilson.

Wilson is a solid number two starter, who gets overlooked because he follows the phenomenal Cliff Lee in the Rangers rotation. This season, Wilson posts a 15-8 record, with a 3.35 ERA, giving-up 36 doubles, two triples, and 10 home-runs pitching a total of 204 innings. Wilson has 170 strikeouts in 2010, but 93 walks total is way too high to give him ace status

Wilson spent his first four years in the bullpen for Texas, a lefties specialist who has shifted into the starting role beyond expectations. Wilson still pounds lefty batters and his pattern is no secret. Wilson mostly throws a two-seam fastball, one cutter outside and usually finishes off with a slider for the strikeout.

Wilson’s formula is not effective on right-handed batters, as all 10 home-runs came from this side, compared to zero against lefties.

The Yankees will look for Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Marcus Thames, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher to cause chaos for Wilson as all solid from the right side. Makes you wonder if Joe Girardi will bench Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner because both bat left, but both are almost too productive to not have them playing.

It speaks volumes of the fact that the Rangers skipper Ron Washington trusts Wilson to open up the ALCS against Sabathia. Washington knew with Lee pitching Game five of the ALDS that he would not be available for Friday, unless Washington was hopped up and forgot. (Kidding!)

For the Yankees, having Sabathia on the mound, a certified CY Young ace is just a dream come true. Sabathia has a 21-7 record, with a 3.18 ERA, allowing 20 home-runs, 28 doubles and two triples over 237.2 innings. Sabathia has thrown two complete games, striking out 197 and walking 74 batters.

Sabathia is an innings eating horse for New York and whether he is in the Bronx or away doesn’t matter much. Sabathia is one of the games best and he thrives under the bright lights of the postseason.

Sabathia has carried the 2010 Yankees through peaks and valleys all season, both as a player, teammate and a friend.

MY PREDICTION:

Anyone with a brain knows that Sabathia should win this game easily if he gets some insurance runs from his Yankees teammates. Alex Rodriguez was unusually quiet in the ALDS and as one of the best right-handed hitters ever, look for Arod to have a HUGE night.

ALCS 2010: Will Texas Rangers Cliff Lee Give Or Get A Bronx Bombing?

The moment the Texas RangersCliff Lee hurled his last strike Tuesday night; he not only killed the Tampa Bay Rays‘ postseason dreams, but also gave the New York Yankees an official ALCS opponent for Game One on Friday night.

The Yankees will fly down to Texas to face the Rangers in the seven-game ALCS series, which for one team will lead to the World Series.

In all honesty, predictions were betting the Rays would beat the Rangers in the ALDS, but in a five-game series, there is no room to stumble.

The Rays didn’t start playing up to their ability until Game Three, and by the time Tampa caught up, it was Cliff Lee time in the deciding game.

Cy Young winner and certified bad-ass Cliff Lee is no stranger to pressure, especially in the postseason. Watching Lee’s postseason career is literally watching baseball history in the making.

In seven starts, Lee posts a 1.44 ERA, allowing nine earned runs, six walks, striking out 54 hitters and giving up just one home run over 56.1 innings.

Three of those seven wins were complete games; the last was this past Tuesday night to beat the Rays and lead the Rangers to the ALCS for the first time.

Except for changing uniforms like it’s Halloween in the Bronx, Lee and his famous left arm are no stranger to the Yankees. Neither are Yankees fans, who will get to see Lee in the Yankees’ first ALCS home game next Monday night, the third of the series.

If recent history can predict any game’s outcome, this would be it. Lee is the dictator when he starts; if he wants to win, he does.

The Yankees have shown signs of getting to Lee in the past with some success, but not in 2010 and certainly not in the postseason, which was witnessed in the 2009 World Series when Lee was a Philadelphia Phillie.

The Yankees are by no means underdogs in this series against the Rangers, except any game Lee pitches because the Bombers are at his mercy, but this time things will be different.

Overall, the Yankees have the better team; way more experience and are beyond determined to repeat.

Not just for the players’ own egos because the team owes someone else another World Series title, to say the least.

Mr. George Steinbrenner, known as the Boss, would not have it any other way and neither would his Yankees.

So, bring on the Rangers and Cliff Lee, because it’s time for the Yankees to show the Rangers how champions play.

Baseball Bloggers Alliance 2010 MLB Awards Press Release

My apologies for not having posted this sooner….please let me know what players you think deserve my vote.

ALCS 2010: The Yankees’ Cliff Lee Conspiracy Theory

There is not much going wrong for the New York Yankees, after sweeping the Minnesota Twins easily to advance to the ALCS.

However it happened, this is not the same team who finished off 2010 regular season barely breathing.

Resembling championship form almost overnight has caused rumors to swirl for the sudden upgraded play.

Maybe it’s just pure postseason rush?

Possibly. Imagine getting a step closer to the World Series as a player. It’s inevitable that you acquire some adrenaline from winning.

Also, it could have been a contrived plan to lose the division. Any team without Cliff Lee is a better option and an easier opponent, particularly in the postseason.

Everyone knows the Yankee captain (Derek Jeter) can act to win so why wouldn’t the team lose a few to defend their crown? Looking at the bigger picture it makes sense.

Struggling and after spending months on the DL was not the Andy Pettitte who looked great in Game 2 of the ALDS. It was the southpaw at his best.

Followed that outing was Phil Hughes, who was even better and during the team’s September slump Hughes only came out of the bullpen. Maybe Hughes hasn’t learned to fake being bad as well.

In turn Yankees can blame it on the ‘Hughes Rules’ also known as Hughes’ innings limit. Hughes is 90+ innings over that limit and that was before his ALDS start so it would be presumed that he was not getting pampered months ago. Nice try with that one.

Could it be possible that all the fuss to win the AL East was BS, and the Yankees had no intention to go that route?

It makes sense for any team to try and avoid having to face Lee twice in a five game series because odds are you will lose the short series.

This is not fate but the reality facing the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, where Lee holds the destiny of the game on the mound.

If Lee were going to get hit, the best team with the odds to beat him would be the Rays because they have done it all season. Not just once this season, but all three times the Rays made the great Lee into a loser. Lee gave up 15 hits, 12 earned runs, two walks and 25 strikeouts in the three losses against Tampa Bay.

In Lee’s six postseason starts he has a 1.52 ERA, given up just 11 hits, eight earned runs, six walks, 43 strikeouts and one home run over 47.1 innings. He still has not lost in October, making the reasons to steer clear more obvious.

Postseason Lee has yet to fail. His last victims were the Rays; in their own house just four games ago. Tuesday night will be different because the Rays are hot again and this will make Lee’s night not an easy one, but the Rays bats will have to be perfect.

Kind of makes sense for the Yankees to lose the division on purpose, even if they never admit to it.

  • ALDS 2010: Five Things We Learned (bleacherreport.com)
  • Underestimating Underdogs: New York Yankees Beat Minnesota Twins Again (ladylovespinstripes.com)
  • New York Yankees: Stop Losing, Start Playing (ladylovespinstripes.com)
  • New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins ALDS Series Breakdown, Part 2 (ladylovespinstripes.com)
  • New York Yankees: The Cliff Lee Conspiracy Theory (bleacherreport.com)
  • MLB Playoff Predictions: Can Andy Pettitte Save Yankees’ Postseason Pitching? (ladylovespinstripes.com)

New York Yankees: Six Days Off ‘Til ALCS Against Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays

2010 ALDS MLB Logo

The New York Yankees are on their way to another ALCS after sweeping the Minnesota Twins for the second postseason in a row.

Phil Hughes, in his first postseason start, pitched a gem on Saturday night, going seven solid innings and allowing no runs to score. It was a real boost for the team going forward.

It provided a sigh of relief for skipper Joe Girardi, as his team looks to be a force to be reckoned with once again. It’s about time for Yankee fans to cut Girardi some slack, as he has earned our trust once again.

Next up for the Yankees is the ALCS, but the opponent is to be decided between the Tampa Bay Rays or Texas Rangers. The Rangers went into Game 3 leading 2-0 in the ALDS against a seemingly dead Rays ball club.

The Rangers had five outs remaining to move onward, but the Rays got their much-needed swagger back and beat the Rangers 6-3.

The Rays did it again Sunday afternoon, tying the series at 2-2 and forcing the Rangers to play Game 5 back at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.

The winner of this ALDS will host the Yankees on Friday evening in Game 1 of the ALCS.

Vote for Jeter!

Who would the Yankees rather face?

Neither the Rays nor the Rangers are going to make like easier for New York.

The Rays match up with the Yankees head-to-head better than the Rangers.

The Rangers have ace Cliff Lee, who has slaughtered the Yankees in four different uniforms and twice in the 2009 World Series. Even with losing Game 1 and 5 in 2009, the Yankees still won the World Series against the Phillies. Lee finished the regular season with a 3.18 ERA and 195 strikeouts.

The Rangers’ second starter is CJ Wilson, who is becoming a mini-Cliff Lee. If Wilson shuts down the Yankee, that is two games lost before the Yankees even get back to the Bronx. Wilson has held the Yankees hitters to a .248 average over his career. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: Six Days Off ‘Til ALCS Against Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays’ »

Underestimating Underdogs: New York Yankees Beat Minnesota Twins Again

Before the start of the 2010 ALDS, the state of the New York Yankees went as follows:

Fact…. the New York Yankees are looking old.

Fact…. the Yankees played awful baseball in September. Finishing the month with a 12-15 record and playing under .500 baseball for the first time since April 2008. They lost 7 of they’re last 10 games.

Fact…. the Yankees starting pitching was in shambles at end of regular season, while the hitters were becoming pros at stranding runners on base.

Fact…. the majority of sports media deemed the Yankees the underdogs, while predicting that losing would be they’re ultimate fate.

All of the above are legitimate statements. Both haters and lifelong fans pounce on any weakness displayed by the Bombers, myself included

Coming in, as the Wild Card team is not the usual entrance the Yankees make into the postseason.

Thanks to ESPN for repeatedly reminding viewers that the franchise has never made it past the ALDS as the wild card team. That stat is spanning over so many decades it started sounding desperate.

Still, some day’s it seems like Yankees fans hate losing more then the Yankees themselves. Rest assured the players like the over-criticism from their beloved fans. It is the only way the players would have it.

As far as the ALDS, so far so good for the Yankees, who head to the Bronx with a 2-0 lead against the Minnesota Twins.

Each win answered some very big questions looming all around in Yankee Universe.

With so many unknowns, Game one was a must win for New York because the team’s only proven ace CC Sabathia was on the mound. If the Yankees lost with Sabathia pitching things could have gotten ugly.

Well, the Yankees got the win on Wednesday night in Minnesota, and Sabathia wasn’t even at his sharpest.

So how did the team manage the win?

As a whole, the team played all around solid baseball, and that will always win in October.

Anyone who was afraid that Andy Pettitte forgot how to pitch, you are not worried any longer.

Pettitte pitched great, as he always does in the postseason. Both his off-speed and breaking ball pitches were on target, like he had not missed a beat.  Everyone discounted Pettitte’s exceptional career and experience way to fast, which will never happen again.

Everyone knows the ALDS is not even close to finished yet. Yankees fans are hoping that Mariano Rivera will get that final over the weekend, but until than thinking any further than Saturday would be absurd.

All eight postseason teams are first-rate, have talent beyond comprehension, and each well deserves and rightly earned to play in October.

One thing I continually re-learn during each postseason, is that critiquing October baseball continually reminds us that a team’s future is not in the past.

There are no excuses in this postseason that is for sure.

“Don’t talk to me about aesthetics or tradition. Talk to me about what sells and what’s good right now. And what the American people like is to think the underdog still has a chance.”

-George Steinbrenner, “the Boss”

  • Yankees beat Twins again (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
  • MLB Playoff Predictions: Can Andy Pettitte Save Yankees’ Postseason Pitching? (ladylovespinstripes.com)
  • ESPN Reminds New York Yankees How to Bomb in the Postseason (ladylovespinstripes.com)
  • New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins ALDS Series Breakdown, Part 2 (ladylovespinstripes.com)
  • New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins: ALDS Series Breakdown, Part Three (ladylovespinstripes.com)