It was an easy choice for me to figure out which series would be the most interesting one to watch this week. Tonight, the Yankees and Rangers start a three-game set at the Ballpark in Arlington, which could be a playoff preview. The Yankees started off slow this year, getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, but have hit their stride of late, especially at the plate with the barrage of home runs they’re hitting. On the other hand, the Rangers are just doing everything right, they’re hitting well, pitching well, and playing solid defense. New York always brings their star power to every series they play in, but Texas does shy away from the spot light either, so this will be an entertaining series.
How they’re performing right now:
As I just said, both of these teams are hot right now, with the Yankees coming into this series with a 9-6 record, and the Rangers currently putting space between them and everyone else in the AL West, sporting a shiny 13-3 record, the best in baseball.
New York is fresh off their pounding of the Boston Red Sox at the 100th anniversary of the opening of Fenway Park, scoring 21 runs in their two wins. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and their 0-3 start to the season is now a distant memory for the Yankee faithful. Texas is coming off a hard fought series with another legitimate playoff contender in the Detroit Tigers, and have performed well in their last 10 games, going 9-1. What is even more impressive is that Texas is currently playing better on the road (8-1) than they are at home (5-2).
Statistically speaking, these are two of the better teams in the Major Leagues right now. Both of these teams have proved that they have dangerous lineups for opposing pitchers, but one of them has set themselves a part from the rest of the league in regards to the way they pitch. The Yankees are currently hitting at a .285 clip as a team (2nd in MLB) and have scored 90 runs (3rd), but their 4.36 team ERA (22nd), coupled with the 27th- best WHIP at 1.44 show why they are still even with teams such as the Orioles and Blue Jays.
However, the Rangers are showing everyone that it really didn’t matter whether C.J. Wilson re-signed with them or not, they can still pitch with the best of them. Currently, their 2.48 team ERA is third in the MLB and they have the third-best WHIP at 1.06. Offensively, everyone knew that they would bring in the noise, but they have also decided to bring in the funk; as a team, their hitting .303 and have scored 94 runs, both tops in the league.
Probable Pitching Match-ups:
C.C. Sabathia was not scheduled to pitch in this series, but due to the rain out on Sunday, Sabathia is scheduled to toe the slab for the first game. After Monday’s game, there is lots of young talent facing off against one another. Phil Hughes finally got his first one of the year in his last start, but he’s been kissing the ground that Curtis Granderson walks on instead of talking about his outing since it wasn’t all that spectacular. At this point, the match-ups are:
Recent head-to-head match-ups:
During the regular season, the Yankees have had the upper hand on Texas over the last couple of years, but when it counted the most, the Rangers were able to come up with some wins. In 2010, the two teams met eight times, splitting the season series, with each dominating on their home field. New York swept Texas right out of the Bronx, but could only muster one win in Arlington. Last season, the season set was controlled by the Bombers, taking seven out of nine contests overall.
However, the two teams did meet in the 2010 ALCS after splitting the season series that year, and it was the Rangers who won the pennant, taking the series in six games, which was the first of two consecutive trips to the Fall Classic. Even though it’s only the end of April, this first meeting between the two has playoff implications that will no doubt excite the crowd.
Match-ups to watch for:
I’m really looking forward to watching Yu Darvish make his first start against the Yankees. In his last start, he faced his toughest test
yet by handling the Tigers for six innings of work, but this is the Yankees. This is a guy that has had a flare for the dramatic since before the bidding for his services started last winter. Even though the Tigers lineup may be more formidable overall, Yankee hitters are on fire right now. So, I will be looking forward to watching Darvish navigate through Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira, A-Rod, and Cano two or three times.
Now that Brett Gardner is on the 15-day DL, I’m interested to see how Joe Girardi uses Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones in left field during this series. Both of these players can provide more pop in the lineup, but playing the field will be a different story. Jones was brought back and Ibanez joined the team this season to platoon at the DH position. With a solid offensive team like the Rangers, this weakness for the Yankees could be exposed.
This will no doubt be a fun series to watch since both of these teams are playing so well right now. Even though the Rangers are boasting the best record in Major League Baseball, I think the Yankee offense will be too much to handle right now. Yu Darvish will have many successful starts against the Yankees in the future, but this week won’t be one of them, with the Bombers continuing their offensive onslaught that was started by the Grandy man last week with his three-homer game. However, the wild card in this series will be the Yankee starting pitching. Kuroda’s last start wasn’t that great, neither was Hughes’, even though he got the win.
Sportscenter agrees with my pick this week because game one tonight will be on ESPN and is one of their games to watch for. So, make sure you don’t miss it!