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Angels vs. Yankees Preview – Expert Predictions

American League Championship Series Preview

It’s East versus West in the American League Championship Series. The American League’s top two teams square off when the New York Yankees take on the Los Angeles Angels for a trip to the Fall Classic.

The ALCS gets underway in New York this Friday. The Yankees and Angeles have met 10 times this season with the teams splitting wins. Their most recent series was a three-game set in Los Angeles in which New York won two of three in late September.

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The Halos defeated the Yankees in the 2002 and 2005 ALDS. New York hasn’t been in the Championship Series since the Boston Red Sox miracle comeback in 2004.

The Yankees handled a Minnesota Twins team coming off an emotional and draining final week of the regular season. While New York had clinched a postseason spot and could focus on October, the Twins were rushed into the playoffs and rushed out just as quickly, losing the ALDS in a three-game series sweep.

The Yankees closed out the series with a 4-1 win in Minnesota on Sunday, behind some poor base-running by the Twins that killed an eighth-inning rally. New York added two insurance runs in the ninth, outscoring Minnesota 15-6 in the series. The Yankees’ deep lineup hit just .232 over the three games but knocked four home runs and batted .333 with runners in scoring position.

The biggest story coming out of the Bronx is the performance of third baseman Alex Rodriguez. A habitual underachiever in the postseason, Rodriguez led the way at the plate. He hit .455 and picked up six RBI and two home runs in his 11 at-bats during the ALDS.

While A-Rod steals headlines, the Yankees’ pitching staff is the real hero of their three-game sweep. The team posted a 1.80 ERA with a total of 24 strikeouts and eight walks and did not allow a home run to one of the best hitting teams in the majors. Starters CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte put in solid outings while the bullpen gave up just two runs in over seven innings of work. Closer Mariano Rivera was sharp through his short appearances, not allowing a run while striking out seven batters.

On the other side of the bracket, the Angels were ridding themselves of four seasons worth of frustrations. After falling to the Red Sox in the ALDS in each of the last two seasons Los Angeles made a stand and swept Boston in three games, punctuated by a come-from-behind win at Fenway Park in Game 3.

The Halos were down 6-4 heading into the ninth inning when they rallied back thanks to timely hits from Erick Aybar, Bobby Abreu, and Vladimir Guerrero to complete the comeback and the sweep. Guerrero recorded the game-winning two-run single and snapped a skid in which he had just one RBI in his last 19 playoff games.

Abreu, who joined the team from the Yankees this offseason, has the hot bat heading into this matchup with his former club. The on-base specialist is batting .556 with seven total bases and has drawn four walks. The Angels hit just .228 in those three games but managed to cash in five runs with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Los Angeles’ pitching staff, most notably the bullpen, was lights out against one of the majors’ most dangerous lineups. As a team the Halos posted a 2.33 ERA with solid efforts from John Lackey and Jered Weaver. However, the bullpen was dominant and did not allow a run until giving up one run on two hits in Game 3 – allowing a total of just four hits in the ALDS.

Manager Mike Scioscia is juggling his Game 1 starters. He could go back to ace John Lackey but might use Joe Saunders, who was penciled in as the ALDS Game 4 starter. Saunders hasn’t pitched since October 4 but leads with team with 16 wins and hasn’t lost a start since the beginning of August. If Lackey goes, he will be pitching on seven days’ rest.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is leaning towards Sabathia again for the series opener. A.J. Burnett would then follow in Game 2. New York had a team ERA over 6.00 in their 10 meetings with Los Angeles this season. The Halos batted .315 in those contests and averaged 6.5 runs per game.

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Comments

Comments

  1. It is hard to believe that the way the Yankees have played the second half of this season, they would lose this series. There is just too much talent for a complete letdown, I like New York in 6 games.

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