ALCS Preview: Yankees at Rangers
What's at stake
The Texas Rangers begin the best-of-seven American League Championship Series with two games in their own park. The franchise ended its playoff futility on Tuesday after upending the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth and deciding game. No matter what happens in the ALCS, don't expect Texas to play scared against the defending World Series champion New Yankees. Aside from pitching, the Rangers kept Tampa Bay off balance with their aggressiveness on the base paths. Manager Ron Washington's game plan won't change.
- Post-season record: 3-0
- Batting leader: Curtis Granderson (5 hits, 3 RBIs)
- Pitching leader: Phil Hughes (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
- Post-season record: 3-2
- Battling leader: Elvis Andrus (.333 average)
- Pitching leader: Cliff Lee (2-0, 1.13 ERA)
First pitch: Friday night, 8:07 p.m. ET
Venue: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Head to Head: Yankees vs. Rangers
The Yankees had no problems sweeping the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. New York, which secured its 27th World Series title last year, is no stranger to long periods between playoff series, enduring waits of at least five days between series many times since 1996. New York also has the added benefit of avoiding Rangers ace Cliff Lee in Game 1. Lee manhandled the Rays on Tuesday during Texas's clinching victory.
The clubs tied their regular-season series, winning four games, respectively. Both teams enjoyed three-game sweeps.
Players to watch
New York — Curtis Granderson
The centre-fielder put together a terrific series against the Twins. Granderson registered five hits, three RBIs and a .455 batting average to go with eight total bases.
These two sluggers did a number of the Rays during the five-game games. Cruz and Kinsler each smacked three home runs and combined for 16 hits and nine RBIs.
New York — CC Sabathia (1-0, 3.21 ERA)
Sabathia wasn't his usual dominating self in his opening game against the Twins, but he did enough. He struggled with control, allowing three earned runs while walking three in five innings. In his only start against the Rangers during the regular season, Sabathia earned a 5-1 victory en route to a nine-strike out effort.
Texas — C.J. Wilson (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
While the Rangers were pushed to the limit by Tampa Bay, Wilson led a 6-0 romp of the Rays in Game 2, striking out seven batters and allowing only two hits.
There are no significant injuries for either side.
It's been all Yankees. New York has faced the Rangers in the post season on three separate occasions, winning all the first-round matchups in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
What they said
"It's unbelievable. Something we're proud of because it's never happened in Texas before. Hopefully, we can take it to the next level." — Slugger Josh Hamilton after Texas clinched the franchises first playoff series victory
"I think it's a big advantage to have your rotation set up the way you want." — Yankees Manager on Joe Girardi on the advantage of clinching a series early