Could this be a possible ALDS preview?
Yes, if the Yankees get through the last 22 regular season games, which is not as easy as it sounds.
The Yankees spend 15 of those 22 meetings on the road, facing the Tampa Bay Rays seven times and their rival Boston Red Sox for six. The remaining six are split between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.
Not an easy finish for the reigning champions. This will test the Bombers, as it will shed some light on the team’s durability. The Yankee bullpen and bats have been very effective, saving the starters from total collapse.
Everyone knows to be successful in the postseason every aspect of a team has to be working, so when Andy Pettitte finally gets off the DL, it will make a major impact for New York. CC Sabathia cannot be the only guaranteed innings eater.
It is no secret that the Rangers are beat up too; the Yankees need to take advantage of these games. Against the Rangers, New York has won four of five in the season series and is 16-5 at Texas over the past six seasons.
The Rangers have the luxury of an 8.5-game lead in the AL West and can afford to rest players before the playoffs. Unfortunately, it happens that the two best Rangers, ace Cliff Lee and slugger Josh Hamilton, are the unhealthy ones.
Hamilton looks not to be in the lineup at all against New York, which not one Yankee will complain about or miss. The All-Star slugger bruised his ribs fielding a ball and slamming him into the center field wall. Hamilton says the pain has not improved enough to get back out there just yet.
Lee, who is slated to start on Sunday, skipped his last start with muscle spasms in his back. Lee is coming off a horrific August, so the extra rest could be just what he needs.
The Rangers have struggled lately and are returning from a 10-game road stretch, going 4-6.
Friday night, Yankees starter Javier Vazquez will take the mound after returning to the rotation last week, which resulted in a still shaky start against the Blue Jays. Hopefully, giving Vazquez another attempt to correct himself will result in a quality start, but don’t hold your breath.
Rangers will counter with C.J. Wilson, who is 14-6 this season with a 3.10 ERA. Since the All-Star break, Wilson is 7-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 10 starts.
Wilson’s one loss was his last start against the Minnesota Twins; he gave up six runs, walked four, and hit a batter over five innings.
Neither the Yankees nor the Rangers have clinched a playoff spot yet, so winning this series for either ball club is imperative.
This is definitely the weekend series to watch, but my overall prediction is the Yankees will take two of the three games down in Texas.
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