By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
About Los Angeles
The Angels are in uncharted territory, as they usually see themselves on the losing end to the Boston Red Sox. That changed this year with a 3-0 sweep, and now a showdown with the other AL East competitor, the New York Yankees.
For one of the teams that scored the most runs in the American League this season, they brought that mentality to the playoffs, scoring 16 runs in three games. They are an all around team, whether by hitting percentage (Bobby Abreu, .556, Erick Aybar, .364) or by power (Torii Hunter, one home run, three RBI Vladimir Guerrero, two RBI).
Defensively, P John Lackey is the stud, and proved it with a seven inning, four strikeout, zero run effort in the ALDS. P Jered Weaver also threw seven strikeouts in seven innings during his Game Two victory. Brian Fuentes recorded two saves, and Darren Oliver gave up only one hit in 2.1 innings worked. The Angels are a stacked team from top to bottom.
About New York
A year after missing the playoffs, the Yankees are back with a vengeance, and swept through Minnesota 3-0 to get to the ALCS. The Major League Baseball’s winningest record of 2009 also gets the home field advantage in the cozy confines on the new Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are led by the captain, Derek Jeter, playing all-around ball (.400, four runs, two doubles, one home run, two RBI), and the formerly slumping Alex Rodriguez (.455, two home runs, six RBI). All in all, the power packed Yankees have hit six home runs in three games.
If the hitting isn’t working, usually, the pitching is, and it starts with the Ace, C.C. Sabathia. In his first postseason pinstripe performance, he threw 6.2 innings, giving up one run and striking out eight. A.J. Burnett threw six strikeouts and gave up one run in his win, and Andy Pettite took down seven in his ALDS victory. The team boasts a strong 7-8-9 pitching squad in Joba Chamberlain (1.2 innings, two hits, zero runs), Phillip Hughes, and Mariano Rivera (3.2 innings, one save, seven strikeouts, zero runs). The Yankees won two of their games in the seventh inning or later. If they can get the runs, this bullpen is lights out.
About The Matchup
The series pits the two teams with the best AL record. In fact, these teams are so good, they split the season series 5-5. The Yankees were first in the AL in runs scored with 915, and the Angels were second with 883, so both squads are able to put runs up. The Angels were also first in AL Batting Average, with .285, and the Yankees were second, at .283, so they get on base.
Despite the Yankees having the lowest ERA of any playoff team (4.26), the Angels can be a distraction on the base path, with six players having double-digit steal totals. Chone Figgins leads the squad with 42, and former Yankee Bobby Abreu has 30.
The Angels plan on going with a four man rotation, pitching John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, and Scott Kazmir. The Yankees are hinting at a three man rotation, behind C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettite. Should they go four starters, Chad Gaudin or Joba Chamberlain will get the start. Otherwise, look for Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Mariano Rivera to shut down the offense.
The Yankees boast a complete team, but the Angels hit better, and are quicker, and have a stud rotation. The Yankees are known best for their walk-off wins, and might need some late inning matchup to get the win. Nevertheless, the Yankees in seven.