A capsule look at the AL championship series

BY foxsports • October 14, 2009

A look at the best-of-seven American League championship series between the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees: Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at New York (7:57 p.m.); Game 2, Saturday, at New York (7:57 p.m.); Game 3, Monday, Oct. 19, at Anaheim, Calif. (4:13 p.m.); Game 4, Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Anaheim, Calif. (7:57 p.m.); x-Game 5, Thursday, Oct. 22, at Anaheim, Calif. (7:57 p.m.); x-Game 6, Saturday, Oct. 24, at New York (4:13 p.m. or 7:57 p.m.); x-Game 7, Sunday, Oct. 25, at New York (8:20 p.m.). (All games on FOX). x-if necessary. --- Season Series: Tied, 5-all. --- Projected Lineups Angels: 3B Chone Figgins (.298, 5, 54, 114 runs, 101 BBs, 42 SBs), RF Bobby Abreu (.293, 15, 103, 30 SBs), CF Torii Hunter (.299, 22, 90), DH Vladimir Guerrero (.295, 15, 50), 1B Kendry Morales (.306, 34, 108), LF Juan Rivera (.287, 25, 88), 2B Howie Kendrick (.291, 10, 61), C Mike Napoli (.272, 20, 56), SS Erick Aybar (.312, 5, 58). Yankees: SS Derek Jeter (.334, 18, 66, 107 runs, 30 SBs, 212 hits), LF Johnny Damon (.282, 24, 82, 107 runs), 1B Mark Teixeira (.292, 39, 122, 103 runs, 43 2Bs), 3B Alex Rodriguez (.286, 30, 100), DH Hideki Matsui (.274, 28, 90), C Jorge Posada (.285, 22, 81), 2B Robinson Cano (.320, 25, 85, 103 runs, 48 2Bs, 204 hits), RF Nick Swisher (.249, 29, 82), CF Melky Cabrera (.274, 13, 68). --- Projected Rotations Angels: RH John Lackey (11-8, 3.83 ERA), LH Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60 in 31 starts; 7-0, 2.55 in 8 starts since DL stint), RH Jered Weaver (16-8, 3.75, 174 Ks in 211 IP), LH Scott Kazmir (2-2, 1.73 in 6 starts for Angels after trade from Tampa Bay; 10-9, 4.89 overall). Yankees: LH CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.37, 230 IP), RH A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04), LH Andy Pettitte (14-8, 4.16). --- Relievers Angels: LH Brian Fuentes (1-5, 3.93, major league-leading 48/55 saves), RH Ervin Santana (8-8, 5.03 with 23 starts), RH Matt Palmer (11-2, 3.93), LH Darren Oliver (5-1, 2.71), RH Jason Bulger (6-1, 3.56), RH Kevin Jepsen (6-4, 4.94). Yankees: RH Mariano Rivera (3-3, 1.76, 44/46 saves, 72 Ks, 12 BBs, 66 1-3 IP), RH Phil Hughes (8-3, 3.03, 3 saves, 51 games, 7 starts, 96 Ks, 28 BBs, 86 IP), RH Joba Chamberlain (9-6, 4.75, 31 starts, 1 relief appearance), RH Alfredo Aceves (10-1, 3.54, 1 save), LH Phil Coke (4-3, 4.50, 2 saves, 72 games), RH David Robertson (2-1, 3.30, 1 save, 63 Ks, 43 2-3 IP), RH Chad Gaudin (2-0, 3.43, 11 games, 6 starts with Yankees after trade from San Diego; 6-10, 4.64 overall), LH Damaso Marte (1-3, 9.45, 21 games). --- Matchups The Yankees (103-59) and Angels (97-65) finished the regular season with the top two records in the major leagues. New York swept Minnesota 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs and Los Angeles did the same to Boston, dispatching a longtime October nemesis. ... With their aggressive style on the bases, the Angels have given the Yankees trouble for years, going 73-63 against them since 1996, when Jeter took over at shortstop and New York began a run of four World Series titles in five years. That makes Los Angeles the only AL club to have a winning record against the Yankees during that span, according to STATS LLC. The Angels also eliminated the Yankees from the postseason twice, winning division series matchups in 2002 and 2005. ... Teixeira left the Angels as a free agent last offseason for a $180 million, eight-year contract with the Yankees. ... New York led the majors with 915 runs and tied for third in the AL with a 4.26 ERA, lowest among the league's playoff teams. ... Pettitte is 15-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 36 postseason starts, tying him with John Smoltz for the most postseason wins in major league history. ... Light-hitting backup Jose Molina caught Burnett in the first round, and Posada came off the bench later in the game. During the season, there were rumblings that Burnett didn't like throwing to Posada, a longtime Yankees star. The right-hander went 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA and .270 opponents batting average in 16 starts with Posada behind the plate. Burnett was 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA and .221 opponents batting average in 11 starts with Molina catching, according to STATS. ... Damon did not homer in his final 95 at-bats from Aug. 30 on and went 1 for 12 with a single and 4 strikeouts in the first round. Swisher also was 1 for 12, but Jeter and Posada were productive at the plate. ... A mediocre starter all season, Chamberlain was back in the bullpen against Minnesota. He appeared in all three games, throwing 1 2-3 scoreless innings, and his role in the ALCS will be interesting. He could start Game 4, or the Yankees could keep Chamberlain in the 'pen - which manager Joe Girardi sounds tempted to do. Perhaps that's partly because setup man Hughes had a 9.00 ERA in 3 outings against the Twins. In that scenario, Sabathia would probably start Game 4 on three days' rest, setting him up to pitch a potential Game 7 on regular rest. Gaudin would be the other possibility to start Game 4. Chamberlain, of course, was a dominant setup man with a blistering fastball as a rookie in 2007. ... New York won 31 of its last 39 regular-season home games and finished with the best home record in the majors at 57-24. Then, the Yankees went 2-0 at home in the first round. ... The Angels have won 10 of their last 11 games, including the playoff sweep of Boston. --- Big Picture Angels: The Angels captured their third straight AL West title and sixth playoff berth in eight years with 97 victories, three off last season's major league-best pace. ... Despite clinching during the final week of the season, they finished 10 games ahead of second-place Texas, the majors' biggest margin in a division. ... Los Angeles led the majors with a .285 batting average and finished second to the Yankees in runs with a club-record 883. ... The Angels became the first team in major league history with 11 hitters who had at least 50 RBIs. ... Los Angeles also set team records for RBIs (841) and hits (1,604) with a starting lineup that featured nine .300 hitters in mid-August. ... The Angels had four 20-homer hitters (Rivera, Morales, Hunter, Napoli) for the first time since 2000. ... Hunter had one of his best seasons when healthy, hitting a career-best .299. ... Morales made quite a breakthrough in his first full major league season, picking up for the departed Teixeira at first base. ... The Angels committed 85 errors, the fewest in team history. Hunter and Aybar lead Gold Glove contenders list. ... Mike Scioscia became the first manager to reach six playoffs in his first 10 seasons. ... Guerrero was looking for a signature hit in the postseason before his decisive single off All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon in the first-round clincher at Boston. He went 4 for 10 in the series. ... Figgins was 0 for 12 with a walk and 6 strikeouts against the Red Sox. Yankees: Back in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus, the Yankees have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. They won the AL East by eight games over wild-card Boston, their first division title since 2006. It is their 14th playoff berth in 15 years - but the first as a manager for Girardi, in his second season at the helm in New York. Now, the pressure builds. Looking for that elusive 27th championship, the Yankees haven't reached the World Series since 2003 or won it all since 2000. They spent $423.5 million last winter on Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett, and they all delivered during the regular season. October is when it counts, though, because even a $201 million payroll on opening day can't buy the 11 postseason wins needed for a ring. New York knows that all too well, having been eliminated in the first round three straight times from 2005-07. In fact, the Yankees had lost four straight playoff series before beating Minnesota this year. Their last trip to the ALCS was marked by an unprecedented collapse, when they blew a 3-0 lead against Boston in 2004. New York is still trying to regain its October swagger. ... Newcomers such as Burnett and Swisher have lightened the mood in a corporate clubhouse. Girardi emphasized camaraderie and the Yankees have pulled together all season, playing team baseball and having fun in the process. They led the majors with 51 comeback victories and 15 walk-off wins. They came from behind in all three victories against the Twins, including a game-ending homer by Teixeira. In a now-familiar ritual that fans have grown to adore, Burnett punctuates the walk-off wins with a whipped cream pie to the face of the player who got the game-winning hit as he's interviewed on television from the field. ... The entire team celebrated milestones for two longtime stars, after Jeter passed Lou Gehrig for the franchise hits record and Rivera notched his 500th save. ... New York took off on a tear when Rodriguez returned to the lineup after missing the first 28 games following hip surgery. The Yankees grabbed sole possession of first place on July 21 and assumed control of the race with a four-game sweep of Boston at home Aug. 6-9. The team's new $1.5 billion ballpark played like a bandbox for much of the season, yielding 237 homers in 81 games. That suited the Yankees, who set a franchise record with 244 home runs - marking the first time they led the majors outright since 1961. ... A key move was converting Hughes from starter to reliever during the season. He was outstanding as Rivera's eighth-inning setup man, previously a glaring hole for this team. ... Loaded with power, talent and experience, the Yankees have every reason to believe they can win the World Series. The starting pitching must hold up, but it flourished against Minnesota. --- Watch For - All Eyes on A-Rod. Often at the center of the storm, Rodriguez is looking to put his playoff failures behind him and reach the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career. He got off to a great start in the first round against Minnesota, going 5 for 11 (.455) with a pair of clutch homers and 6 RBIs. Still slowed afoot following March hip surgery, the three-time MVP seems more relaxed and focused this year after a tense spring training news conference to admit steroids use from 2001-03 with Texas. - Abreu's Impact. Although he joined the Angels shortly before spring training, Abreu has been a perfect fit. He reached 100 RBIs and 30 steals for the fifth time. He also batted .354 with runners in scoring position. Abreu has a .357 career postseason average, but the 35-year-old is hungry for his first championship ring. He hit .556 (5 for 9) with 2 doubles and 4 walks in the division series. He also scored 4 runs. - Expensive Arms. Sabathia and Burnett, newcomers to the Yankees, could be the key to their postseason success. Both got off to strong starts against the Twins, with Sabathia earning a Game 1 win to improve to 3-3 with a 6.54 ERA in 6 postseason starts. Burnett walked five in six innings during his first playoff outing, but held Minnesota to one run. - Adenhart's Memory. A grieving Angels team pulled together after the tragic death of rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart in an April car accident. He has been a constant presence this season, with his jersey hanging in the dugout at every game and his locker remaining pristine in the corner of the room at Angel Stadium. When Los Angeles clinched the AL West title, players celebrated with the jersey, dousing it in champagne before heading out to the outfield wall to pour more bubbly over a picture of Adenhart. Weaver also brought the jersey onto the field after Los Angeles beat Boston in the first round. Adenhart's family will get a full share of the Angels' playoff winnings.

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