Why a Long ALCS Could Benefit the Yankees

Nick RiggContributor IOctober 23, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees reacts after scoring on a Hideki Matsui #55 single during the seventh inning in Game Five of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 22, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

I'll be up in the early hours of Sunday morning here in England watching the Yankees, hopefully, progress to a World Series date with the Phillies next week with victory in Game Six of the ALCS.

No thanks to the never-say-die Angels taking Game Five at Angel Stadium on Thursday to reduce the deficit to 3-2 in favor of the Yankees.

The Phillies will no doubt be taking the ALCS in on the television, too, making notes about the current form of both sides, preparing to defend their World Series crown, and enjoying putting their feet up ahead of their biggest series since the same stage of last season, which starts next Wednesday.

I'm sure Joe Girardi and his Yankees lineup will have been wanting to do the same, especially after the convincing start they had at Yankee Stadium to start the ALCS.

Instead, they'll return to the Bronx to try and tie up their progression to the World Series with a fourth victory in the best-of-seven series in front of their home support.

Andy Pettitte will lead them into battle from the mound , with a starting pitcher yet to be declared for Game Seven if required.

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But while the Yankees, with all due respect to the Angels, will never have publicly declared their desire to sweep the series following their winning start, they'd have surely enjoyed such a progression in an ideal world, or a more comfortable progression at least.

Of course, it was unlikely that would have happened given the quality the Angels have in their lineup.

As it is, and as was predicted before the series even started, the Angels are taking them all the way and refusing to throw in the towel in what's turning out to be a thrilling head-to-head, with the fans more than getting their money's worth.

This is, in my opinion, no bad thing for the Yankees though, especially given the route they've taken throughout the postseason.

Much has been made of the form of the Yanks big earners in the postseason, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and C.C. Sabathia all shining and paving the way for a sweep over the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS.

The trio have all continued their top form into the meetings with the Angels.

The one worry to come of those relatively comfortable successes was that those big earners have failed to be backed up by the rest of the New York starting line-up.

Mark Teixeira has been below par until Thursday's 7-6 defeat, taking a fair bit of flack in his first postseason with the Yankees.

Teixeira is a prime example of just why the ALCS going the distance, or a long way toward it, will be a good thing for those Yankees players who haven't yet hit form in the postseason.

The more games there are, the more chances there are for these players to get up to full speed ahead of what's set to be a thrilling World Series, and what Yankees fans will hope will start at Yankee Stadium next week.

Despite the close-fought defeat on Thursday, Teixeira's confidence took a real boost when he blasted a three-run double slug from lefty Darren Oliver's pitch into the left-center field to get the visitors well and truly back into the game.

Teixeira needed it, and so do a number of others Yankees who're failing to hit top form this postseason. Maybe that confidence-boost will come at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night.

Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher, the latter in particular, could also do with some hits, RBI, home runs, in fact whatever they can get in Saturday night's game, so they can take some momentum into the World Series, should they reach it.

We all know Rodriguez, Jeter, and C.C. Sabathia can hit the heights in the big matches, but Joe Girardi and Yankees fans will be looking to the rest of their lineup to really shine in the coming game or two at Yankee Stadium, and that's why the long ALCS is no bad thing for New York.


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