AL Championship series
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers
I am not going to take the easy way out here. The defending champions are here, and they beat a Minnesota Twins team that I really believed could win.
The problem is that teams believe all the hype and become intimidated, especially with the playoff-losing streak suffered by the Twins.
But, I see the Texas Rangers as a team with confidence and a pitcher that they know has beaten the Yankees in the postseason before. Cliff Lee, who already has 21 strikeouts in 16 innings, is becoming one of the greatest big game pitchers in MLB history.
He has only allowed two runs, and he has only allowed 11 hits while walking none. The Yankees will have to play Lee twice, maybe three times. But, Lee actually isn’t the key in the series.
Both lineups are stacked. You have Mark Texiera, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez on one side and Jorge Cantu, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Vladimir Guerrero on the other.
The key will be C.J. Lewis against C.C. Sabathia. If the Rangers can sneak a win in game one, the Yankees will need to rely on Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte against a much stronger lineup than the Minnesota Twins. Plus, they have already said A.J. Burnett will be pitching.
We will see if that is true if the Yankees lose game one.
Prediction: Rangers in 7
I am thinking the Rangers may be too young and naïve to realize that they are playing the defending champions. With Lee’s leadership, the intimidation will be non-existent. Plus, home-field advantage does help a little, despite the Rangers pulling a 180 from the regular season and going 0-2 at home and 3-0 on the road.
The Yankees rotation will finally hurt them against a team that hits and hits just like they do.