“It Will Be a War”-American League Championship Preview

“It Will Be a War”– Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte

Game 1: Angels (John Lackey) at Yankees (CC Sabathia), Fri., Oct. 16, FOX

Game 2: Angels (Jered Weaver)at Yankees (A.J Burnett), Sat., Oct. 17, FOX

Game 3: Yankees (Andy Pettitte) at Angels (Scott Kazmir), Mon., Oct. 19, FOX

Game 4: Yankees (TBD) at Angels (TBD), Tues., Oct. 20, FOX

Game 5: Yankees (TBD) at Angels (TBD) (if nec.), Thurs., Oct. 22, FOX

Game 6: Angels (TBD) at Yankees (TBD) (if nec.), Sat., Oct. 24, FOX

Game 7: Angels (TBD) at Yankees (TBD) (if nec.), Sun., Oct. 25, FOX

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Record:  97-65  American League West Champions

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

The Angels needed to pull out the rally monkey on the road in their dramatic, come-from-behind victory, in the clinching game three Division Series over the Boston Red Sox.  Former Yankee, Bobby Abreu, led the offense with a whopping .556 batting average while Vladimir Guerrero followed suit with a .400 batting average. Chone Figgins had a terrible series, going 0-12 and only reaching base once.

Pitching was key for the Angels, holding the normally potent Boston bats to a .158 batting average for the series.  John Lackey set the tone in game one throwing 7-1/3 shutout innings.  Jered Weaver contintued the strong pitching performances tossing 7-1/3 innings while only giving up one earned run in game two.  Newly aquired Scott Kazmir got hit hard, giving up five earned runs in six innings of work in game three.  The bullpen was excellent, only allowing one earned run in 5-1/3 innings pitched.

KEY PLAYERS:

Chone Figgins- Figgins tends to be a thorn in the Yankees’ side.  He needs to get on base where his speed can be a vital asset in helping the Angels manufacture runs.

John Lackey- Lackey has the challenge of squaring off with 19 game winner CC Sabathia.  Lackey needs another strong game one performance in order to get his team off on the right foot.

Jason Bulger and Kevin Jepsen- The Angels set-up men will have to bridge the gap between the starting staff and all-star closer Brian Fuentes.  The late innings are when the Yankees tend to win games, so these two will need to have their “A” game in every appearance.

New York Yankees

Record:  103-59    American League East Champions

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

The Yankees reached a three game sweep against the Minnesota Twins, their first playoff series victory since the 2004 Divisional Series.  Alex Rodriguez got the monkey off his back, belting three home runs with six runs batted in (RBI) while posting a .500 batting average.  Other than Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, the normally devestating Yankee offense, was dismal with Nick Swisher and Johnny Damon each hitting .083 for the series.  Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera never got things going either, with each of them hitting a lack-luster .167.  Even Mark Teixeira hit only .167, but he did hit the walk-off home run in Game two that crushed any hope Minnesota had in the series.

Pitching got the Yankees past the Twins, with strong starting performances by CC Sabathia, A.J Burnett, and Andy Pettitte.  The bullpen combination of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes bridged the gap to the always dependable Mariano Rivera.

KEY PLAYERS:

Alex Rodriguez- He proved he can carry the offense, but can he continue to keep his head where it’s been at?

CC Sabathia- Like Lackey, another strong pitching performance in game one can once again set the tone for the series.

Johnny Damon- Hitting .083 in the second spot in the order will not cut it this series.  It is crucial for Damon to get on base in order for Teixeira and Rodriguez to drive him in.

Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain- If each pitcher dominates as usual, the combination of Hughes, Chamberlain and Rivera will mean that each game could be over after the sixth inning.

Prediction The New York Yankees win a tough series in six games, although I can see it only going five as well.

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