New York Yankees
After falling behind in the ALCS by a game, the Texas Rangers have absolutely taken the New York Yankees by storm, winning two straight games, including pivotal Games 3 and 4 in Yankee Stadium in tremendous fashion. Now, the team is just one step away from its first ever World Series in its 50th year in existence. This will probably be the hardest test though, as the pitching matchup definitely isn't a favorable one for the visitors on Wednesday afternoon.
Save one inning in this series, the Rangers have clearly been the dominating side, and a great case could be made that this series should already be over. On Tuesday, OF Josh Hamilton blasted his third and fourth home runs of the series, DH Vladimir Guerrero had four hits, and C Bengie Molina went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the visitors to a 10-3 'W'. LHP Derek Holland threw 3.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory, while the much maligned RHP AJ Burnett allowed five runs in six innings to get the 'L'. The New York bullpen imploded for the second straight night, this time allowing five runs in just three innings of work.
LHP CJ Wilson knows what it's like to be a closer, but in this instance, it's not a game that he's trying to close out: It's the series. After allowing just three runs in seven innings of work in Game 1, Wilson is back at it on Tuesday night trying to slam the door shut on the 2010 Yankees. So far in the postseason, the southpaw has been fantastic, holding opposing batters to just a .160 batting average. He has conceded just those three runs in 13.1 innings of work and has most importantly kept the ball in the park, allowing just one homer. Wilson went 15-8 during the regular season and had a 3.35 ERA. Coming into this series, he was 0-3 lifetime against the Yanks with a 4.12 ERA, and he is still in search of that elusive first 'W' against the men in pinstripes.
Don't expect LHP CC Sabathia to be at the head of the Yankee rotation next year if he can't figure out how to pitch this game. Sabathia has been absolute dreadful in the postseason after scoring 21 wins in the regular season to lead the majors. Though New York is 2-0 in his two starts, it's no thanks to Sabathia and his nine runs allowed in ten innings of work. The lefty was knocked around in Texas to start this series, as he allowed five runs on six hits and a whopping four walks in just four frames, the shortest outing of his postseason career. Sabathia is averaging 0.7 walks per inning in the playoffs, a far cry from the .311 walks per inning he allowed in the regular season.
Should we really turn out the lights on the Yankees? Right now, we wouldn't care who was pitching. We know that New York needs to flip a switch in a major way, and right now, we just haven't seen it. Will it be SS Derek Jeter that makes the play? 3B Alex Rodriguez? Will Sabathia put together an inspired performance? Unfortunately for the guys in pinstripes, we tend to think that it just isn't going to happen. Texas goes to its first World Series after tonight's triumph.
MLB Free Picks: Texas Rangers +160