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I suppose that I should take solace in the fact that they will be facing the hapless Twins. At first glance, Yankee fans should be downright giddy. Somehow, I am not convinced that it will be a cakewalk. If there is one team that should be motivated to get a post season series victory, that would be the Twins. The Bx Bombers have owned the Twins in both regular and post season match ups. One difference about the 2010 Divisional Playoff, Twins have home field advantage and they are not playing in the homerun friendly MetroDome. I understand that their new Target Field is quite cavernous. To succeed in that ballpark you must either be able to pitch well or dominant a week division. The Twins did both, thus they have one 6 of the last 9 AL Central Division crowns. If the Twins are ever going to beat the Yankees, this would be the year. The Twins have homefield advantage, and they are meeting a ballclub that has played horrendous down the stretch. The Twins should be seething and really motivated to upend the champions. Especially since the Minnesota ballclub has been absolutely inept against the Yankees.
Perhaps the Yankees biggest issue is the starting pitching has been awful down the stretch. Outside of CC Sabathia, there really has not been any consistency. The loss of Pettitte hurt the stability of their rotation. Before Pettitte suffered a groin injury he was 11-3 and probably well on his way to winning at least 15 decisions for the ballclub. In his absence, the team used some journeymen (ie Mitre, Gaudin, Mosely) none of them did more than mediocre. It was difficult to watch their starts. Cashmen finally decided to promote from within, and gave young rooking Ivan Nova a chance. He looks to have a bright future, but might not be ready for the pressures of post season. For the Bombers to succeed they must simply pitch well.
Timely hitting would also help their cause as well, take exactly what the pitcher gives you. The team has speed in Granderson and Gardner. If they both hit well in this series, you could really see them playing havoc on the basepaths. I'm not certain that the Twins have a great defense, forcing them to make plays could prove disastrous. At this writing, I have not seen Girardi's published pitching rotation. It would be safe to assume that AJ Burnett will be skipped in the short Divisional round.
My pitching starting rotation is as follows -
Game 1 - CC Sabathia
Game 2 - Phil Hughes
Game 3 - Andy Pettitte
Game 4 - CC Sabathia
Game 5 - TBA
I have no idea who I would throw in a Game 5. Actually, I do not believe the series will go that far. If I did need a Game 5 starter I would like someone with experience in the postseason, obviously the pitcher with most post season innings is Andy Pettitte but you can't bring him back on two days rest! This is why Girardi gets paid millions. I chose Hughes as the number 2 starter because he has the knack for giving up home runs. Target Field is a huge stadium and it will help him. I don't think Girardi will start Hughes in Game 2. I believe if the series goes 5 we'll see CC and Pettitte twice.
Regarding our hitting.. Robinson Cano has been carrying the club for most of the year. He basically has replaced Matsui in that 5 slot behind Rodriguez. He hasn't hit well in the post season for his career, but I think that will change. Hell if A-Rod could finally get the monkey off his back, why not Cano? If Texieria, Cano, and Rodriguez drive in runs. The Yankees will be tough to beat. Pitching must hold the opponents to 2-3 runs, and let the offense grind. If their lineup truly becomes circular with Nick Swisher actually hitting in the 8th spot, the team will really flourish. Let's go Bombers !! First pitch 8.37p EST