Angels Provide Tough Test for Yankees

Bronx, NY – Now it is official. Alex Rodriguez is truly a New York Yankee post season player after hitting two home runs in the ALDS series. If it were not for A-Rod, well perhaps the Twins could have took the series to a game 5. Perhaps, even with the two costly running blunders on the bases that the Twins’ Carlos Gomez had in game 2 and Nick Punto caused in game 3..

You don’t make those mistakes against the Yankees, and their next opponent, the Los Angeles Angels, won’t make those mistakes when they come to the Bronx Friday evening as game 1 of the American League Championship Series begins.  The Angels score runs, steal bases, and play smart baseball.

And as the Yankees prepared this week to get one step closer to another World Series appearance, they too know that this will be a tough task, maybe more difficult than their pervious ALCS battles with Boston  The Angels were tops in the American League in hitting and third in stolen bases.

But that will not matter if the Yankees keep them off the bases offering CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, a capable one-two punch on the mound.  You wonder if it will go to plan, the Yankees and Angels, who split ten games during the season. “We expect a war,” said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, the veteran, who has been around this many times before.

Posada wants that taste of another World Series appearance. So does the captain Derek Jeter, who always seems to get the big hit at the plate, or make the perfect play on the field when the Yankees are a part of post season October baseball.  So does pitcher Andy Pettitte, who got his record tying 15th post season career, win Sunday against the Twins sitting there with John Smotlz

And there is the Mariano Rivera factor and his 35 career post season saves that will guarantee him Hall of Fame status.  A close lead, and get the ball to Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, all that now works well for manager Joe Girardi before Rivera takes over.

At least that is what the Yankees and Girardi hope for. They hit the most home runs in baseball and do it well at their new home in the Bronx.  “No easy out in their lineup,” says Angeles manager Mike Scioscia.  Especially in the late innings, as we saw with the lethal combination now of Rodriguez and Mark Teixiera who can change the complexion of a game quickly.

“They know how to play this time of year and the situation will not, phase them,” said Girardi Sunday night after the Yankees made their statement with a sweep over the Twins. They are factors in the post season again, just like they were in the 1990’s where Pettitte, Jeter, Rivera and Posada took control.

The only concern this time, not also forgetting that the Yankees were eliminated two times by the Angeles twice in post season play, is the availability of a fourth starter. Chad Gaudin probably will get the ball and has one inning of postseason experience when he was with Oakland. He got a no decision and gave up two runs on six hits, striking out three in a Yankees win out in Los Angeles on September 23rd.

Other than that, the Yankees won with consistent pitching in the three games against the Twins. “How you win in the post season,” said Jeter.  Both teams score runs, 120 runs combined in their ten games and are about even at 5.85 runs per game.

Rodriquez would be expected to duplicate his performance against the Angels. The Yankees have the momentum and wait for the first pitch tomorrow evening, at their new ballpark that saw some magic come from across the street all season and in the series with Minnesota.

Important game 1 as always with Sabathia getting the ball for New York, He needs to make a statement right away. If not it gets more difficult, but in the end the Yankees will take it to a game 7 in the Bronx next weekend. They have home field advantage and the best record at home in baseball all season. Yankees take it.

And waiting for them?  Will be interesting if the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Philadelphia, and then all the story lines with their manager Joe Torre returning to the Bronx.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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