Friday, October 16, 2009

ALCS Game 1: Who Knows?

Here we are, folks. It's the American League Championship Series; Phase Two of a possible three in the quest for ultimate baseball glory. It's been a long 5 years since the Yanks have been in those position.

There are only 6 Yankees (Jeter, A-Rod, Mo, Posada, Cano, Matsui) that were on the roster in 2004 or the last time the Yankees faced the Angels in 2005. The Angels are returning only 4 players from 2005. So while the narrative that the Angels own the Yanks in the postseason is going to be thrown out there, it's not all that relevant any more. The Red Sox supposedly had the Angels' number going into the ALDS and they are watching this one from their respective couches. (I love pointing that out...)

As Matt delved into this morning, the two teams split the season series and are quite evenly matched. The Yanks have a slight advantage when you look at the accumulation of their regular season stats, but much of that goes out the window at this point. The rosters are optimized for a short series and there's no guarantee that a 52/48 or even 55/45 edge is going to show up in a best of 7 series. The miserable weather in the Bronx to start the series could further obscure any advantages one way or another.

John Lackey gets the start for the Angels tonight, off a dominant outing against the Red Sox in the ALDS. The Angels' Ace shut down the Sox over 7 1/3 IP, holding them to 4 hits, one walk and no runs. He was also sharp in his one outing against the Yankees this year, holding them to two runs over 7 innings out in Anaheim and picking up the win in the process.

The Angels trot out a pretty formidable line up as well, one that ranked second in the AL behind the Yankees in runs scored. That's pretty impressive when you consider that they were only 3rd in OBP and 4th in slugging percentage (Yanks were first in both). Their oft-discussed running game has surely filled in some of those gaps. The always-pesky Chone Figgins will be leading off and Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Vlad Guerrero make up the heart of their order. Kendry Morales has put up Mark Teixeira-style numbers this year but he's only hitting 6th.

Of course, CC Sabathia will be ascending to the rubber for the Yankees and trying to wade though that line up tonight. He wasn't in his start against the Twins (which was 9 freaking days ago), but he did strike out 8 and walk none in 6 2/3 innings. He gave up 8 hits and 2 runs (one earned) and needed 113 pitches to do it, but showed that he was capable of finding his command under pressure.

He didn't fare well in either of his starts against the Angels during the regular season this year. In 13 1/3 innings of work, he gave up 9 ER, 17 hits, took the loss in both games but did strike out 11 while walking only 4. Decent peripheral numbers, but that's not much to hang your hat on. We're only interested in the bottom line from here on out.

The Yanks offense, outside of A-Rod, Jeter, Matsui and a couple timely hits by Mark Teixeira didn't look too hot against the Twins. Their batting line of .225/.288/.431 isn't going to get it done against the Angels, much less earn them a sweep.

Right now, we're still at the phase where nobody has a clue where this series is going to go. Hopefully this is going to be a great match up; an all-time classic. But what has happened this season, in the ALDSes, in 2005 or in 2002 isn't going to mean much after tonight. Hopefully the Yanks can pull it off, but who knows? Let's go Yanks.

They don't know,
Like I know,
Do you know?
They don't know,
I don't know.

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