ALCS: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels
These two teams are shaping up to be “teams of destiny” in the 2009 MLB playoffs. One team is riding on the foundation of tradition, to bring a Championship back to the state that has celebrated it 26 times. While the other teams is riding on the foundation of pure emotion, dedicating their magical run in the playoffs to fallen team mate Nick Adenhart.
The Los Angeles Angels in my opinion shocked the Baseball world by sweeping the Boston Red Sox in 3 games. Nobody including myself saw the Angels shutting the Red Sox down like they did. It amazes me that Lackey and Weaver were able to out pitch Lester & Beckett in Games 1 & 2 in the ALDS. On paper you would have figured it to be in the Red Sox favor but I believe the Angels have that feeling that they are the underdogs in the American League.
It goes back to being fueled by the desire and love they have to win the World Championship in the memory of Nick Adenhart. No doubt if the Angels get by in the ALCS they will be touted on a national televised level as a team with an actual “angel” watching over them. It would be a storybook tale for broadcasters around the nation to crow about; if they haven’t already.
The Angels are lead by of all people Torii Hunter, the centerfielder who has become Commander and Chief of the Angels shift where many veterans surface. The hitting is rounded out by Vlad Guerrero, Bobby Abreu and the surging Kendry Morales. Broadcasters love to introduce players to a national audience in October and it appears that Morales just may be that player this season.
The New York Yankees on the other hand did not shock the Baseball world by sweeping the AL Central Division Champion Minnesota Twins. While the Twins played with a lot of heart and emotion they clearly showed what it’s like to be a team with little playoff experience. In Game 2 & 3 they could have scored to take the lead or tie it but over ran the base and got tagged out on two great fielding plays by the Yankees. In the playoffs you need to be mistake free at all times and the Yankees for the most part were.
Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte; the starting pitchers for the Yankees in Games 1 – 3 combined for an ERA total of 1.42. You need numbers like that from your pitchers in October and for the time being it appears the pick up of Sabathia and Burnett, while resigning Pettitte is showing to come off in a positive way for the AL East Champions. While the bullpen looked for the most part good throughout the three game series, guys like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Phil Hughes and of course Mariano Rivera were able to hold the Twins offense at bay aiding the offense to take the lead.
The largest story out of the Yankees/Twins series by far is resurgence of one Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs. Never before in his time in pinstripes has A-Rod been this clutch when the Yankees needed him the most. A game tying 2-run homer in Game 2 to keep the Yankees alive and eventually get the win, combined with another game tying homerun in Game 3 helped the Yankee offense close the door on the Twins. If A-Rod is able to continue to drive in runs and put up these numbers the Yankees will be a dangerous team to contend with.
Onto the Yankees/Angels matchup in the American League Championship Series; for the most part these two teams are reflections of one another. Good pitching, decent bullpen and amazing offense. The two teams are coming into this series extremely confident due to the sweeps they pulled off in the ALDS; I would figure the Angels more then the Yankees due to being able to finally get the Red Sox monkey off their back. To find differences in these two teams is hard to come by.
But in the differences there are you can pinpoint where one team will succeed in this series over the other. In my point of view the differences lie in the veterans when it comes to both team’s lineups. The Yankees top to bottom have 9 hitters who have played in the postseason within the last decade. The lineup alone is a very intimidating lineup that an opposing pitcher can not been intimidated by. If a pitcher gets easily intimidated by the top to bottom, no relief in sight lineup the Yankees have then they will get broken down (i.e. Yankees/Twins Game 1).
If you do not get intimidated by the Yankees lineup (i.e. Nick Blackburn & Carl Pavano) you will succeed against the Bronx Bombers. But if your lineup does not produce enough runs to shut the door on the Yankees (i.e. Games 2 & 3) then you will be facing a huge problem as the Yankee lineup comes closer to the late innings where they seem to play the best.
The Angels lineup will top to bottom decent as well needs to hit the All-Star Yankee pitching rotation that awaits them in Games 1-3. Like the lineup, they can not go into the game being easily intimidated by veterans CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte. If there is any one of these “Bronx 3” that the Angels can hit hard it will be AJ Burnett in Game 2 because he did not pitch well against the Twins in the ALDS Game 2.
When it comes down to it to me the Yankees are playing at an all-time high right now, the likes that we haven’t seen since the run they made in the late 90s. They are playing well; they are confident and want another Championship. While it would be nice to see the Angels win the ALCS and the Championship in the memory of Nick Adenhart, I believe the magical run ends in the Bronx.
Prediction: Yankees win series 4-2
ALCS MVP: Alex Rodriguez
Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at http://www.wheelhouseradio.wordpress.com
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