New York Yankees
Thanks to a masterful performance by LHP Cliff Lee, not only is he about to be one of the richest men in baseball, but his current team, the Texas Rangers, are just two steps away from winning the ALCS and moving on to the World Series. Those two wins will be difficult to acquire though, particularly in Yankee Stadium, where the New York Yankees are not easily beaten.
A six run ninth inning in the Bronx proved to be completely elementary on Wednesday night for the Rangers, who snared their second win in this series and totally baffled the best lineup in baseball. Lee struck out 13 men in eight shutout innings, only further improving his postseason resume, which was already very gaudy. The Yanks now know that they have to win at least one more game in the Lone Star State to survive in this series, something that won’t come easily, especially with two more games still to be played in the Big Apple. The bats have to rebound, and LHP David Robertson has to forget about those five runs he allowed in the ninth yesterday if New York has a chance of coming back.
RHP Tommy Hunter was, without a shadow of a doubt, the least effective pitcher in the first round of the postseason for the Rangers. He only lasted four innings and allowed six hits and three runs, two of which were earned. Hunter did go 13-4 in the regular season in 23 outings, but the 24 year old has some questionable numbers that are going to be brought into the limelight on Tuesday night. He allowed a whopping 21 homers this year in just 128.0 innings of work and just barely had a K/BB ratio of great than 2.00. Opposing batters hit .255 against him, something that will certainly be magnified by the fact that he is pitching in Yankee Stadium. Hunter has never beaten the Yankees in his career, as he is 0-1 in two starts and has allowed seven runs in 9.1 innings of work.
This is the decision that might make or break the season of the Yankees. LHP CC Sabathia will not be pitching on three days of rest in Game 4, which means that manager Joe Girardi has his hands tied. RHP AJ Burnett is basically his only option right now, and in a situation where there is very little room for mistakes, that could prove to be costly. Burnett was a train wreck this year, going just 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA. Girardi really didn’t want to have to use him in this situation, but he has little choice if he is going to refuse to use Sabathia on short rest. Burnett hasn’t pitched in 17 days, and he hasn’t really pitched effectively in over a month.
We’re just not so sure about this one from New York’s perspective. The Yanks need to plate at least five runs tonight in all likelihood, just to bail out Burnett unless he finds that proverbial second wind. We’ll take our chances though, as we know that New York was infuriated with that big inning in the ninth in a game that otherwise was touch and go the whole way through. These are short odds that the Yanks are laying, and we’ll just hope that Burnett can get us through enough frames to let the beef in the bullpen take over.
Selection: New York Yankees -145