By Charles Phelps
The New York Yankees have been the MLB’s best team for the better part of 2012, however, April-September doesn’t win you a World Series ring. The Yankees—who are 67-47 as of Sunday—are searching for their first World Series appearance and championship since the victory in ’09. Although they took a hit Saturday with pitching-ace C.C. Sabathia going on the DL, but he’s stated Aug. 24th as his return day, according to ESPN.com. The loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday ended a 4-game winning streak for the Yankees.
Their next series is against the new leader and potential favorite to represent the AL in the World Series—the Texas Rangers.
This is the opportunity for the “Bronx Bombers” to take charge and show dominance in the AL. The Rangers enter the series with ½ game lead over the Yankees in the AL (67-46). The Rangers’ pitching has been disabled since the beginning of the season, but somehow the backups and the powerful hitting lineup have managed to keep the two-time reigning ALCS champs in the hunt. Then there’s Josh Hamilton—who’d been in a slump, but has since recovered from it-- now he’s a viable MVP candidate.
What will the keys be to the series? For starters—pitching. Ryan Dempster is the starter for Texas in game one. He’ll be pitching against rookie David Phelps. Phelps’ is replacing the injured Sabathia. Statistically, the Rangers should have an advantage, though Dempster’s numbers aren’t the greatest, but he had no help while in Chicago. Phelps on the other hand brings a 2-3 record, however, he has no wins at Yankee Stadium. The question is: How will Phelps handle the first game of a potential season-defining series?
The next key: The Yankees need to score runs. The Rangers bats don’t let up, even if they’re having an “off night”; the bats don’t stop swinging. In his last 10 games, Hamilton has two home runs, 15 RBIs and a batting average of .295. However, the Yankee bats have been alive. In the last seven games, two players are hitting above .450 average--Chris Stewart and Eric Chavez. Chavez also leads the team in slugging and on-base percentage (.588 and 1.063). Mark Teixeira has two home runs and Ichiro Suzuki has nine RBIs over the last seven games.
June 7, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees hitter Chris Stewart (19) hits a single during the fifth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Photo Courtesy By Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE.
This series is potentially an ALCS Championship preview. The Angels and Athletics are looking like they won’t catch the Rangers in the west. The Red Sox come to the Bronx next weekend, but they’re looking like a team with no identity. The Chicago White Sox have a two-game lead in the AL Central, but they’re not looking like the Rangers and Yankees. It seems destiny is giving us preview of what October will look like. However, with a new playoff format, there’s going to be another wild card team. If the season ended today, the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles would have a one-game playoff, the winner would play the best team in the AL. One of these teams may play spoiler to a dreamy ALCS series.
However, that’s nearly two-months away. Lets’ watch, enjoy and appreciate this series,during August; if we’re fortunate enough, we’ll appreciate it all the more come mid-October.
Stats courtesy of newyork.yankees.mlb.com and ESPN.com
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