I'm sure some fans and experts looked back to the Yankees' postseason dominance over the Rangers, with nine consecutive victories spanning the previous three series the two teams have played, and thought another cakewalk was in order for the Bombers. After all, the Yanks easily dispatched the Twins, continuing their hold over the Minnesotans (Minnesotians? Minnesoters?). But by taking the first game, the Yankees did take back home-field advantage. A sweep would have been impressive and less nerve-wracking, but splitting the first two on the road is really what they needed to do. And here's why the Yankees will come out on top in the series:
Patience: This group of Yankee players has seen it all before. Sure, there are a few newcomers who haven't won a World Series, but most of them were with the team last season, and the Core Four, of course, have been around since Mickey Mantle retired. All that experience means they never panic, as we saw highlighted in dramatic fashion in the game-one winning rally. And there's something about a player putting on a Yankee uniform that transforms him into a patient, killing machine. They wait for their opponent to make a mistake or get rattled (see bullpen, Texas) and pounce, capitalizing on the other team's miscues. And with the series moving to the Bronx the next three games, we'll see how the Rangers' relievers handle that atmosphere, after melting down in front of a friendly, supporting crowd.
Bats: With the shaky starting pitching so far (ok, horrific starting pitching), and the prospect of having A.J. Burnett making a start, the offense is going to need to score runs. Robinson Cano is on fire, and the rest of the offense has chipped in here and there, but they haven't exploded yet. And that should be coming right around the corner. How long can Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and the rest stay silent? They only scored two runs and managed seven hits in Saturday's loss, but they also walked seven times. They'll score runs through attrition, and will surely get the big hit when they need it, just as they did vs. the Twins. And yes, Cliff Lee will be pitching two games (well, at least one), but he can't pitch every inning of the series for the Rangers, and he'll be facing Andy Pettitte, who only has more postseason wins than any pitcher in baseball history. The playoff-tested Yankee bats have the advantage against the inexperienced Texas hurlers, especially in the thunderous, ear-splitting Yankee Stadium setting.
Bullpen: While not-so-secret weapon Mariano Rivera may not be perfect (though he's about as close as it gets), will he be flustered? Nervous? Dazed? Not a chance. The Yankees have already gotten nine scoreless innings from their bullpen, and there isn't any reason why it won't continue. Kerry Wood has been awesome since his first day in New York. Even Dustin Moseley threw two perfect innings while striking out four to pick up the win in game one. They'll have the Yankee crowd on their side, and if the series goes back to Texas, the Rangers' relievers will be the ones feeling the pressure, not the Yankee bullpen.
The Yankees have too much firepower, too many reliable arms in the bullpen, but most of all, too much experience, while utilizing all 27 outs to get to the finish line. And that's why they'll ultimately prevail against Texas in the ALCS.
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