ALCS Game 1 Preview: Yankees at Rangers

New York rides in fresh off a sweep of the Twins in the American League Divisional Series and now takes on Texas in Game 1 of the ALCS in Arlington.

New York Yankees at Texas Rangers

New York swept the Twins in the American League Divisional Series, recording the team’s 13th postseason sweep and its good news in the team’s hopes of repeating as champions.  The Yankees have won the World Series each of the three times they have swept the ALDS (1998, 1999, 2009).  The team has had a five-day layoff from its last game and is anxious to get the action started versus the Rangers.  “We haven’t played in about a week, so we’re well rested,” said third baseman Alex Rodriguez.  “I think we’re in a good place.”  New York is also anxious to add on to its nine-game postseason winning streak over tonight’s opponent, which is tied for the third-longest winning streak by one team over one opponent in postseason history.  The club also performed well on the road with a 43-38 record during the regular season and two wins over the Twins at Target Field in the ALDS.

Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia posted a 21-7 record and 3.18 ERA in 34 regular season games and is coming off a 6-4 win over the Twins in the ALDS.  He surrendered four runs (three earned) and five hits over six innings of work, while walking three and striking out five.  The left-hander will be making his 11th career postseason start, going 5-4 with a 4.40 ERA, including a 3-1 mark and 1.98 ERA last year.  In five prior Game 1 starts, Sabathia is 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA.  The veteran will be making his 15th lifetime start versus the Rangers, posting an 8-3 mark and 4.29 ERA, including a home win on April 16.  He allowed just a single run and scattered three hits over six innings in that performance.

Texas advanced in the postseason with a 5-1 victory over the Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field.  It secured the team’s first postseason series victory in Washtingon/Texas franchise history.  For the first time ever, the Rangers will open a postseason series with a Game 1 in Arlington, as each of the first four series began on the road.  Homefield advantage is normally a major plus in the playoffs, but the home team has a 4-11 record in this year’s postseason.  The club will be leaning on outfielder Nelson Cruz and second baseman Ian Kinsler to match the power of the Yankees, as both players hit three home runs in the series win over Tampa Bay.  Texas is 30-23 versus left-handers this season and 51-32 at home.

Rangers starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is aiming for his second postseason victory after tossing 6.1 shutout innings in a 6-0 win at Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the ALDS.  The left-hander allowed just two hits and issued two walks while striking out seven in the contest.  He finished the regular season with a dynamite 11-3 home record and 3.70 ERA, surrendering just six home runs in 114.1 innings of work.  New York would smart in sitting left-handed batters against Wilson, as he held opposing lefties to a .176 slugging percentage this season, lowest mark in the majors.  He has gone 0-3 with a 4.12 ERA and two saves in 20 career appearances versus the Yankees, including an 0-1 mark and 5.65 ERA in three starts this year.

Bettors will definitely be interested in playing the Yankees due to their 12-1 record when Sabathia throws against the AL West, but the team is 2-9 in its last 11 games versus a left-handed starter.  Texas is a perfect 6-0 versus southpaws, but has dropped its last five games as a home underdog.

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