ALDS Game One: Make or Break For Defending Champion Yankees

Alex SandersonCorrespondent IIIOctober 6, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23:  CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees looks on against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 23, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Yes, the New York Yankees are the most storied franchise in the history of Major League Baseball with the most World Championships. Yes, they have had great success against their first round opponent Minnesota Twins in recent history in the playoffs. Yes, they are the defending champions. But if they don't win game one today, all of that probably wont matter the least bit.

Yankees ace CC Sabathia will be on the hill against Twins left-hander Fransisco Liriano. Sabathia was about the only hurler the Yankees could trust this season, outside of arguably the best closer in the game in Mariano Rivera. He is a front-runner for the Cy Young Award this season and is pretty much expected to win on a big stage, and his team really needs him to do so if they want to repeat as World Champions.

The Bronx Bombers signed Javier Vazquez in the off-season to help solidify what they have to offer behind Sabathia, but he pitched so badly that he isn't even on the roster for their series against the Twins. Andy Pettitte was pitching well early on and has a great history of success in the postseason, but he just recently came back from an injury and may not be 100%. Their other options are Phil Hughes, who had a pretty good year but has not had much playoff experience, and a wildly erratic A.J. Burnett.

While the playoffs are a completely different season and you can't really predict how given players are going to perform, it is highly unlikely for the Yankees to rebound in a short series if their ace is unable to take game one. They may not have even been in the playoffs without Sabathia, as he was probably their most valuable player this season.

New York does boast one of the best lineups in the game, however, and their offense could theoretically get them out of a 1-0 deficit. Slugger Alex Rodriguez put on a show in the 2009 playoffs and was a major reason they won the World Series. Robinson Cano just keeps getting better and better and the lineup is deep from top to bottom with the likes of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.

But if I was Joe Girardi I would be throwing everything into the pot for trying to get game one of the ALDS against Minnesota. Sabathia can only start one other game after game one in the best of five, meaning if the Yankees lose game one, they will have to win at least two games with other guys taking the hill- not a good recipe for success.