You will have to excuse the Texas Rangers if they don’t know how react to hosting an ALCS game, for the simple reason that they never have. You may have to even excuse them for trying to not allow the New York Yankees a chance to defend their title in the World Series. More so, you will have to excuse the Rangers and their fans for not being the gracious hosts like they have been to the Tampa Bay Rays and others before them in past ALDS play and actually win a game a playoff game at home, something that they still have yet to do in 39 years of franchise history.
Game 1 of the ALCS goes tonight in Texas and you can feel the excitment and emotion through your television set, at least if your a Rangers fan. For the Yankees and their loyal supporters this is not unchartered waters, they have been here time and time again. The ALCS is shaping up for a potential long series or if the Yankees have their way, a very short one. No in between.
The pitching matchups for this series do not favor the Rangers as they did in the ALDS. A big reason that the Rangers managed the success that they did against the Rays was that huge game one win in Tampa, led by Cliff Lee. Now don’t jump on me saying that I am bad mouthing C.J. Wilson, which I am not, but he isn’t Lee. He doesn’t have the experience (yet) to maybe keep his emotions in check early and his head in the ball game. Wilson can ill afford to fall behind early in counts, especially in the first inning, and also cannot lose focus if he gives up a hit or two early. This Yankees batting order is as lethal as it comes in baseball and they have the experience to make teams pay.
Texas will need to get Lee at least two appearances in this series and hope for a split in the four games, especially in the first two games at home, to have a chance at knocking off the Yankees. Aside from A.J. Burnett, the Yankees rotation can match up to the Rangers one and may be better. Their bats are also comparable to the Rangers which can bode trouble for some young pitchers in the Rangers rotation and bullpen. Seeing Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira Cano and Posada etc… can be intimidating, especially at Yankee Stadium in October.
Keys to the Series:
Elvis Andrus – He has to get on base, Andrus is great on the base paths and create some havoc out there. Andrus also brings an energy to this team when he creates runs that is infectious to the rest of the team. He needs to be great in this series.
Rangers Pitching – Wilson, Lewis, Lee. If I am manager Ron Washington I try to run with these three as best I can. I throw in Tommy Hunter as well for one start depending on how the series is looking going into game four. The Rangers bullpen needs to be near perfect in this series and have the ability to hold base runners on and win key one on one matchups late in the game.
Yankees Bats – Will the long lay off be too much for the Yankees bats early on in this series? They may be over rested and take a bit of time to get back into game day form or will they start hitting the ball hard early in this series.
GAME PREVIEWS AND PREDICTIONS:
GAME 1 @ Rangers Ball Park – NEW YORK C.C. Sabathia at TEXAS C.JWilson
Tonight the Yankees ace, C.C. Sabathia takes to the hill against the Rangers #2 guy in C.J. Wilson. Sabathia has a 3-1 post season record when starting a game 1 and look for him to improve on it. Texas will be on an emotional high after beating the Rays but this may lead them to be a bit too anxious in game one. I think Sabathia takes advantage of this and the Yanks gain a bit of momentum in the series early.
Game 2 @ Rangers Ball Park – NEW YORK Phil Hughes at TEXAS Colby Lewis
I see the Rangers falling behind early in this game and not being able to catch up. Look for a high scoring game but the Yankees go home up 2-0
Game 3 @ Yankee Stadium – TEXAS Cliff Lee at NEW YORK Andy Pettitte
This one is a classic, maybe better than the Lincecum/Halladay Matchup in the NLCS. These two beasts just go at each others lineups and keep the game tight late. Ultimately the Rangers come out on a top on a Nelson Cruz or Josh Hamilton late inning home run.
Game 4 @ Yankee Stadium – TEXAS Tommy Hunter vs YANKS A.J. Burnett
This game sees both starters gone early, probably by the 5th inning. We get the bullpens doing their best to keep it close until Neftali Feliz gives up a big ninth inning and a win to the Yankees.
Game 5 – @ Yankee Stadium – TEXAS C.J. Wilson vs NEW YORK C.C. Sabathia
With all the pressure on the Rangers they get blown out in the final stanza of the series and Sabathia cruises to another post season win. If this game was in Arlington I would have the Rangers winning a much closer game.
I predicted the Yankees to beat the Rangers in the last prediction post and stand by my pick for that reason. For the record I was 3/4 picking teams in the first round, including Texas in 5 over Tampa. I would have been 4/4 but took the Braves to beat the Giants with wanting to see Bobby Cox go a few more games when the brain said go with the Giants. Rest of the MLB Predictions below
ALCS – Yankees in 5
NLCS - Phillies in 5 , now due to it being the Giants and not the Braves
WORLD SERIES – Phillies in 6
About the Author
Written by George Kouvalis
A huge fan of sports who loves to travel for major events. I've seen my fair share of major games and events including three Olympics, Wimbledon, The Masters etc.... Always up for a road trip or a drink to talk over sports or pro wrestling, in any city I am in or online. Favorite Teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Bulls, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Argonauts, Manchester United, and of course the teams I blog for, the Texas Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. Follow me on twitter at the handle georgekouvalis