The New York Yankees begin the American League Division Series Sunday evening against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden yards in Baltimore. Here are five keys for the Yankees if they hope to advance to the American League Championship Series.
- Win a game in Baltimore -- One of the quirks of baseball's new playoff system is that the team with the best record in the league, in this case the Yankees, has to open the best-of-five ALDS. Yes, the Yankees get the final three game of the series -- if they are all necessary -- at Yankee Stadium. But, home or not, having to win three straight games is not a position the Yankees want to be in.
- Robinson Cano must stay hot -- Cano finished the season with nine straight multi-hit games, going 24-for-39 (.615). He hit three home runs, drove in 14 runs, scored 11 runs and had seven doubles during that span. He is the Yankees' best player and their own true all-around dominant offensive force. He has to have a good series.
- Score without the home run -- The Yankees hit a major league-leading 245 home runs, going deep in 131 of 162 games in 2012. With runners in scoring position the Yankees hit just .256, 17th in all of baseball. Witth runners in scoring position and two outs the Yankees hit .228, 18th overall. The Yankees can mash, but in tight, well-pitched playoffs games creating runs without the long ball can be critical.
- Alex Rodriguez needs to hit -- A-Rod hit just 18 home runs in 122 games and he has only three home runs in his last 184 at-bats. He has not hit a home run since Sept. 14, and a double on the final day of the regular season against the Boston Red Sox is the only extra-base hit he has had during that time.
- Rafael Soriano -- Soriano had an incredible season filling in as closer for Mariano Rivera. Now, though, we have hit the postseason. Rivera, of course, is the best postseason closer of all time. Can Soriano lock down games for the Yankees at the end the way Rivera did?