Texas Takes Early Lead in ALCS, Bumgarner to Start Against Phillies

-Nick Parson, Front Office Assistant

The Texas Rangers stand with a 2-1
advantage over the New York Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. Had it not been for one
horrific inning for the Rangers bullpen in Game 1, they would be poised for a
sweep of the AL Wild Card winning Yankees.

As is often the case with the playoffs, the pitching
performances have been headline worthy. For Texas, mid-season acquisition Cliff
Lee has been stunning the baseball world with his continued dominance of
otherwise fierce lineups. In three games, two against the Tampa Bay Rays and
one against the Yankees, Lee has gone a combined 24 innings allowing only
thirteen hits, two runs, and one walk. As for his strikeout pace, Lee has set a
major league record by notching over ten strikeouts in each of his first three
postseason appearances this postseason. By deciding to wait until Game 3 to
send Lee to the mound, Rangers manager Ron Washington now has the comfort in
knowing that if there is a Game 7, he will have Lee on hand to face the Yankees
at the Ballpark in Arlington.

For the Yankees, their starting pitching has been
disconcerting at best. In Game 1, Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia was hammered early,
giving up five runs in only four innings pitched. He was able to escape the
loss column due to a dramatic 8th inning implosion of the Rangers
bullpen, however this is surely not something the Yankees want to count on for
future games. In Game 2, the young Phil Hughes was even more ineffective than
Sabathia, giving up a total of seven runs on ten hits in only four innings
pitched. The only quality start of the series for the Yankees has come from
Andy Pettitte, an October veteran who is looking for his 20th
postseason win. With 19 postseason wins already to his credit, Pettitte holds
the major league record. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Pettitte’s sole blemish
of allowing a two-run shot in the first inning to Josh Hamilton was all that
the Rangers would need while riding the back of Cliff Lee’s performance.

As one can imagine by the pitching numbers, there are many
Yankees who have had no offensive impact yet whatsoever. There are only two
Yankees that have greater than two hits in the series, those players being
Derek Jeter with three hits, and Robinson Cano with five hits. Cano is leading
the Yankees in all offensive categories for the series. He has slugged New
York’s only two homers, knocked in three of the eight runs that have been
scored during the series, and scored three of those runs himself. Beyond Cano,
the Yankees are desperately searching for answers.

For the Rangers, the offensive attack has been well rounded.
With the exception of Pettitte, the Rangers have had no trouble getting through
past Yankees pitching.  Josh
Hamilton has provided the most spark for the Rangers thus far with his two
home-runs, five walks, and five RBI, all the while striking out only three
times. Vladimir Guererro is the only player with greater than six at-bats that
has yet to knock in a run for the Rangers.

If the Yankees hope to continue their bid for ring 28, it is
clear that they have a host of issues to address with both their pitching and
their hitting. For Texas, they can only hope that their starters keep doing
what they have done so far, and that the bats stay alive against a Yankees team
that has tremendous potential, even if they haven’t had the results yet.

In other news, local boy Madison Bumgarner is the likely
starter for the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the NLCS. Bumgarner, a
graduate of South Caldwell High, was a dominant starter for the Spartans during
his tenure. As the 4th pitcher in the Giants’ postseason rotation,
Bumgarner had an impressive outing in the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves,
going six innings allowing only a pair of runs on six hits. Bumgarner will
likely face Joe Blanton, who did not pitch in the NLDS for the Phillies as they
went on to sweep the Cincinnati Reds.

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