Phil Hughes, in his first postseason start, pitched a gem on Saturday night, going seven solid innings and allowing no runs to score. It was a real boost for the team going forward.
It provided a sigh of relief for skipper Joe Girardi, as his team looks to be a force to be reckoned with once again. It’s about time for Yankee fans to cut Girardi some slack, as he has earned our trust once again.
Next up for the Yankees is the ALCS, but the opponent is to be decided between the Tampa Bay Rays or Texas Rangers. The Rangers went into Game 3 leading 2-0 in the ALDS against a seemingly dead Rays ball club.
The Rangers had five outs remaining to move onward, but the Rays got their much-needed swagger back and beat the Rangers 6-3.
The Rays did it again Sunday afternoon, tying the series at 2-2 and forcing the Rangers to play Game 5 back at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.
The winner of this ALDS will host the Yankees on Friday evening in Game 1 of the ALCS.
Who would the Yankees rather face?
Neither the Rays nor the Rangers are going to make like easier for New York.
The Rays matchup with the Yankees head-to-head is better than the Rangers.
The Rangers have ace Cliff Lee, who has slaughtered the Yankees in four different uniforms and twice in the 2009 World Series. Even with losing Game 1 and 5 in 2009, the Yankees still won the World Series against the Phillies. Lee finished the regular season with a 3.18 ERA and 195 strikeouts.
The Rangers' second starter is C.J. Wilson, who is becoming a mini-Cliff Lee. If Wilson shuts down the Yankee, that is two games lost before the Yankees even get back to the Bronx. Wilson has held the Yankees hitters to a .248 average over his career.
This season Wilson finished with a 3.35 ERA, with 166 strikeouts, giving up 10 home runs. Unlike Lee, who walked only 18 batters all season, Wilson walked 91 and that is why he is not at Lee’s level yet.
This hot tandem could possibly pitch Games 5 and 6 too, but Wilson will be the decider because Lee we figure to have less of a chance of getting too.
The other option would be the Rays, who play the Yankees 18 times a season as both play in the AL East.
The Rays finished regular season 96-66, taking the AL East from the Yankees, who finished 95-67. The Rays also beat out the Yankees winning 10 of the 18 games they played.
The last time the Rays-Yankees faced off, it ended in a 2-2 spilt in games. It was baseball at its best, as no team convinced fans that it was better than the other.
So, who would the Yankees rather battle with: a hot Rays team or a two-ace Rangers team?
Neither team guarantees the Yankees a trip back to the World Series. It is easy to say that the opponent’s uniform doesn’t matter, and in essence it doesn’t because both are solid ball clubs respectively. It is the ALCS, and the victory leads to the World Series so all aspects have to be considered.
From a baseball fan’s view, the Rays would be a definite classic, but many Yankees fans agree it would be a tougher possible win than the Rangers.
You have to agree because the Rays are not scared of the big, bad Yankees. The Rangers, like the Twins, still seemed intimated by the Bombers, and that didn’t work out so well for Minnesota.
Personally, I say bring on the Tampa Bay Rays because the Yankees are hot enough to beat either. The six days off until Game 1 of the ALCS, which is Friday night, is what concerns me, as the Yankees haven’t had that much time since the offseason.
Yankees Universe will be watching Tuesday night, and that is one promise you can bet on.