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2010 ALCS Preview
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers
by Keith Glab,
October 14, 2010

Records - Rangers 90-72, Yankees 95-67
Runs Scored
Rangers 787 (4th), Yankees 859 (1st)
Runs Allowed -
Rangers 687 (4th), Yankees 692 (5th)

The Texas Rangers have been knocked out by the New York Yankees in all three of their trips to the postseason and currently ride a nine-game playoff losing streak to the Yanks.  If that sounds familiar, it's because the Minnesota Twins entered their Division Series in the exact same boat and left sunk after three games.  Of course, the Twins' losing streak has come more recently than the streak for Texas, whose postseason experience all comes from the late 1990s. 

You may wonder how relevant such a streak is to the 2010 season, but it is actually more relevant than you might expect.  Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera each played in all three of those series wins, while Jorge Posada played in the final two.  None of the Texas players they faced then are on the 2010 Rangers, but those four Yankees should exude a confidence that spreads through the clubhouse.

The Rangers

Pitching Probables
Game Yankees Rangers
1@TEX C.C. Sabathia
(21-7 3.18)
C.J. Wilson
(15-8 3.35)
2@TEX Phil Hughes
(18-8 4.19)
Colby Lewis
(12-13 3.72)
3@NYY Andy Pettitte
(11-3 3.28)
Cliff Lee
(14-13 3.22)
4@NYY A.J. Burnett
(10-15 5.26)
Tommy Hunter
(13-4 3.73)
5@NYY C.C. Sabathia
(21-7 3.18)
C.J. Wilson
(15-8 3.35)
6@TEX Phil Hughes
(18-8 4.19)
Colby Lewis
(12-13 3.72)
7@TEX Andy Pettitte
(11-3 3.28)
Cliff Lee
(14-13 3.22)

The Texas Rangers' 39-42 record away from Arlington became 42-42 after every game of the Rangers/Rays ALDS was won by the visiting team. They showed that they could play small ball, basically winning game five on the strength of aggressive baserunning.  They could still hit the longball a bit, though, cranking out eight homers against Tampa.  They showed that they could pitch well by shattering the previous record of 49 strikeouts in an LDS by fanning 55 Rays in five games.

Oh, and they have this Cliff Lee guy who seems to be pretty good in the postseason.

One problem with having the Division Series linger for five games, though, is that Lee will not be able to pitch until game three of the Championship Series.   That doesn't devastate the Rangers, since he would have pitched twice either way and this puts him as the man to pitch another pressure-packed finale should the series last seven games.  But it does put neophyte starter C.J. Wilson pitching game one against C.C. Sabathia and create other interesting mismatches throughout the series.

The Yankees

The Yankees will go with Andy Pettitte as their potential game seven starter, as he has somehow duped Joe Girardi and the rest of the world into believing he is a big game pitcher.  Actually, Joe, Cliff Lee's 1.44 postseason ERA makes him a big game pitcher; Pettitte's 3.87 mark is almost identical to his regular season ERA of 3.88.

Still, Pettitte is no worse of a choice for game seven than Phil Hughes, the only other reasonable candidate for the job.  The bigger cause for concern in the rotation is A.J. Burnett, who will be pitching on 17 days of rest and has more losses and a higher regular season ERA than any postseason pitcher in recent memory.  Even the 1995 Rockies didn't start a pitcher with a 5-plus ERA in their LDS (Brett Saberhagen did have a 6.28 ERA in nine starts with Colorado, but it was 4.18 for the year).  If Burnett makes an early departure in game four, that will stretch a bullpen that was super thin even before Kerry Wood's game three meltdown.

This is nitpicking, of course.  The Yankees are the better team, the more experienced team, the more rested team, and the team that was more dominant in the first round of the postseason.  Their offense has bailed their pitching out of rough spots all season, and it is hard to see the Rangers' pitching being the ones to finally stop that trend.

The Matchup


The Rangers do have the second-best bullpen ERA in the American League, even though you might not have guessed that had you watched them blow the lead in game three of the ALDS. Why Derek Holland and Dustin Nippert are even on the postseason roster, I do not know, but the fact that they were used in such a key situation is unfathomable given the plethora of superior options in the Rangers' pen. Now they want to add Clay Rapada - a lefty specialist with just one more strikeout than walk for his career - into the mix. The point is, with their top five relievers, the Rangers might actually be able to hold down an inevitably Yankees rally. But Ron Washington has made a "terrible mistake" before and with three bad options in the bullpen, we can't be sure that he won't make another that costs him the LCS.

Washington is also the man responsible for instilling a smallball style of play in these Rangers, as they led the AL in sacrifice hits and finished fifth in stolen bases.  That smallball won them the series against the Rays.  If you think the Rays were embarrassed by Texas running all over them in game five, imagine how the Yankees will feel with both of their catchers having been unable even to gun down anything in Duck Hunt during the regular season.  This evens out the Mariano Rivera advantage a bit in close games, but there aren't likely to be too many low-scoring affairs in these two hitter-friendly venues.

Really, this series comes down to whether Texas can win one of the first two games at home.  If not, the Yankees' confidence will overwhelm them the rest of the way.  If so, the Rangers have such favorable pitching matchups in games three, four, and seven that New York would have a very hard time prevailing overall.   Even though the pitching matchups in games one and two heavily favor the Yankees, the Rangers were 51-30 at home in the regular season and have a decent shot of winning one of two games there, even though they could not do so against the Tampa Bay Road Warriors.

In the end, the Rangers just need to win Cliff Lee's starts, then two of the remaining five games.  That sounds like a pretty reasonable scenario, surprisingly.

Prediction: Rangers in Seven

Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at

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