2012 ALDS: Who Would Yankees Prefer to Play from Orioles-Rangers Game?
On Sunday, the New York Yankees will begin their quest for their 28th World Series championship.
Yu Darvish will take the mound for the defending American League champions while Joe Saunders will start for the Orioles.
The winner of the game will host the Yankees for Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
For Yankee fans, they have been debating whom they would rather play in the ALDS: Texas or Baltimore?
In this slide show, we are going to figure out who would be a batter matchup for the Bombers starting on Sunday.
Lets break down the two possible ALDS matchups for the Yankees.
Yankees vs. Orioles
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2012 season series record: 9-9
If the Yankees and Orioles did meet in the ALDS, it would be the first time in baseball history where teams from the same division would play in the first round of the postseason.
But with the new rule changes of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the division rivals could see each other.
The Orioles never went away during the entire 2012 season, which meant the Yankees couldn't coast during the latter part of the year.
At one point, the Yankees had a 10.5 game lead on Baltimore in the division, but because of injuries and players getting tired or going through mini-slumps, the Yankees faded a bit in July and August.
The Orioles will be without Nick Markakis due to him recovering from a broken thumb, which takes a lot of punch out of the lineup. Yet, despite losing Markakis, the Orioles have kept going.
Hitters like Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds have carried the load for the O's lineup.
During the final series of the year against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles struggled to put up runs against their pitching, so if the Yankee starters can pitch well, they have a chance to shut down the Baltimore lineup.
Yankees vs Rangers
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2012 season series record: Yankees 4-3
This would be the rematch of the 2010 American League Championship Series in which Texas shocked the world and knocked off the defending champion Bombers in six games.
Before last week, I thought the Rangers were the class of the American League and the team to beat. And because they are the defending champions, I still think that.
But over the last two weeks, the Rangers haven't played like the powerhouse they usually are, and even let the A.L. West title slip out of their hands to the Oakland A's in their final series.
If the Yankees do see the Rangers, they could face Ryan Dempster in a start. The Yankees nearly tried to trade for Dempster from the Chicago Cubs before July 31, but Texas beat the Yankees to it.
Dempster struggled in his first three starts with Texas, did well through August and into the beginning part of September, but struggled the rest of the way and really bombed out in the season finale against Oakland that would have clinched the A.L. West.
Their lineup is a deep one with a lot of good hitters lead by Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli.
The offense in 2010 really got to some of the Yankee pitching, especially their bullpen, so if the Yankees want any chance of stopping the Rangers, they need to take the bat out of the Rangers' hands with quality pitching.
Orioles vs Rangers
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2012 season series record: Rangers 5-2
After the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals play their one-game playoff at Turner Field, all eyes turn to the ballpark in Arlington.
This is the biggest start in the young career of Yu Darvish, who will be looking to continue the season of the defending A.L. champions, who went from being a playoff lock to one game away from going home early.
The Orioles have been on one of the most magical rides in 2012 and a lot of people are rooting for Baltimore in the playoffs simply because they are the underdog story.
Both teams come in losing their final series and without any momentum heading into their one-game playoff against each other.
At home, the Rangers were 50-31. On the road, the Orioles were 46-35, which was the best road record in the American League.
On Friday night, you can take all of those records and throw them out the window, because for nine innings, two teams are going to be playing to keep their season alive.
If I were a betting man, I would have to take the Rangers in this game. But you can't count out the Orioles with the way they have been playing all year long.
And the Best Team for the Yankees Is....
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I think if I had to pick between the Rangers and Orioles for the Yankees to play in the ALDS, I would have to say right now the Rangers are a more favorable matchup.
And I say right now because the Rangers have been struggling down the stretch.
Since September 18, Texas finished the regular season 6-9, which included losing five of their final six games.
In the final series of the year against Oakland, the Rangers lost their first two games, which meant their final game of the series would determine who won the A.L. West.
The Rangers were up 5-1 in the third inning and then Oakland struck for six runs in the fourth inning and then tacked on an additional four runs in the eighth inning. The A's won 12-5 and took the division right out of Texas' hands.
That loss had to be a devastating one for Texas, who on Friday, are staring elimination in the face.
If the Orioles came in a hot team, I think Texas would be in serious trouble, but Tampa Bay got the better end of Baltimore at Tropicana Field.
I do think the Rangers will beat the Orioles, but in a five-game series, I like the Yankees' chances facing Texas.
I'll be the first one to admit it, I wanted no part of a rematch with the Detroit Tigers and I am glad they are facing the A's in the first round.
In a series between the Yankees and Rangers, we can talk about offense, but in the end, I think it would come down to who can pitch better.
I think the best way the Yankees can tame the Texas lineup is by throwing CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda at them.
I'd throw in Phil Hughes there too, but the last time Hughes faced Texas in the playoffs, Hughes went 0-2 and bombed out in Game 6 of the ALCS.
However, I like the Yankees throwing their top three starters and being able to shut down the Rangers.
Sabathia has been pitching much better as of late, Kuroda has been steady all year long and Pettitte is just getting back into his groove, winning two out of his final three starts off the DL.
I think the Rangers are the best matchup for the Yankees in the ALDS because I think it gives the Bombers the best chance to win and get to the ALCS.
Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.