ALDS Schedule 2012: What Orioles Must Do to Beat Yankees
The Orioles couldn't manage to top the Yankees in the AL East race, but they proved that they're worthy of being amongst the playoff contenders by beating the Texas Rangers in the Wild Card play-in game.
We've seen many trends with this Baltimore team that will have to continue into the postseason if it wants to have success and move on to the ALCS, and outplaying the mighty Yankees won't be easy.
Let's take a look at the keys to the Orioles moving on in this series between two teams that haven't faced each other in the postseason in 16 years.
Lead Heading into the Seventh Inning
The Orioles have an incredible record of 75-0 this season when their team leads heading into the seventh inning.
They've proved throughout 2012 that they can close out tight games, and that will ring true once again against the pesky Yankees if they can win the first seven innings of the game. Closer Jim Johnson leads the AL with 51 saves, which is a major component of their late-game success.
Baltimore is also 29-9 in one-run games this season, and it will need to keep it close with the Yanks and stay in these games in order to continue its late-inning magic.
Keep New York's Bats in Check
The O's pitchers are undoubtedly freaked out by the big names they have on their scouting report for this Yankees offense.
There's already enough potency between stars such as Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Then add in Curtis Granderson, who is having his best year yet with 43 home runs and Derek Jeter, who is showing that his career may not be as close to over as many suspect, and you have a very scary lineup.
Baltimore has little room in this batting order to take a breath, and that will show. However, if the Orioles can keep those bats quiet then they won't be stopped from reaching the ALCS.
Get Production From the Veterans
For most of this Baltimore Orioles team, 2012 will be their first experience in the postseason, so they're sure to show some jitters regardless of their huge clutch gene.
These are the games where having leadership in the form of Jim Thome will come into play. He's been in this situation many times before and can still make big contributions that will be highly valuable to his team's ability to get going.
Throw in a hungry J.J. Hardy, who is playing near a career-best pace at 30 years old and Nate McLouth, who needs to have a big series for this team, and this team has some massive veteran leadership.
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