The Yankees are back in the ALCS, familiar territory for them. They will be matched up against the Texas Rangers who are coming off of their first ever postseason series win. The two clubs couldn't have much more different franchise resumes. This is unfamiliar territory for the Rangers while the Yankees franchise has won over 200 playoff games in its storied history. The history and lack thereof for Texas will all be thrown out the window come Friday night when the two square off for game 1 in Texas.
In the ALDS these two clubs both answered question about their pitching staffs. The Rangers however may have left a few questions unanswered. When it comes to the Texas pitching staff you already know what you are going to get from the team ace Cliff Lee. He’s going to work fast painting the corners striking out many batters and go deep in to the game time after time. Although not nearly as dominate, CJ Wilson is starting to become a pitcher who can really give his team a strong outing. In game 2 he looked nearly identical to Lee. It is clear that Wilson has learned a lot from the ace in the few months that they have shared together in Texas. Outside of that though there really is not a strong pitcher who a manager can count on to get big outs when needed in the bullpen or as a starter for the Rangers. They sure can’t pitch Cliff Lee every time. They can’t rotate him with the All-Star Wilson either. You already know what the big CY Young candidate lefty is going to bring to the tables for the bombers. In his game 2 start veteran Andy Pettitte answered questions about his injury by going 7 very strong innings helping his team grab the 2-0 lead. This win for Pettitte of course added on to his postseason win total, already the most all time. In the series clinching game 3 the young 18 game winner Phil Hughes was nothing short of lights out. From his first pitch to his last he looked confident and composed and he was certainly in command. Just like in the regular season the bullpen was electric. Going in to the ALCS the Yankees have now decided to go to a 4 man rotation, adding AJ Burnett to the mix. This is a decision that is raising a lot of eye brows after 3 good starts in the ALDS and of course the great struggles of Burnett this past year. It will be interesting to see how AJ, who is a full confidence pitcher reacts after being sent to the pen in the first round and not being called upon once.
Texas might just have the best hitter in the American league in their center fielder Josh Hamilton. Other than Nelson Cruz who played like an All-Star in the ALDS and Vladimir who will sing at anything in any co0unt, there surely is not a whole lot of protection the that Texas lineup. The Bombers sure lived up to their name against the Twins with every hitter who got a start finishing the series with at least 2 hits. Curtis and Teixeira both provided big hits for the Yankees in game one, Granderson with a game tying triple and Mark with the go ahead blast in the 7th. Lance Berkman had a big double and also a big home run in game two. In game three, the season finale, everyone got in on the action as the Yankees just piled it on the twins from the first to the last inning beating them like a drum. The Yankees will be a very tough team to beat if they can swing the bats that well again.
This is an ALCS that will be very interesting and fun to watch. There is many things to wonder. How will AJ Burnett pitch? Will the Texas bullpen be able to help its starters? Can enough Texas bats come alive to match that of the Yankees? It will be very interesting to see how of this will all unfold in what looks like will be a great ALCS.