First Pitch: Next?

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
6:00
AM ET
Ichiro SuzukiAP Photo/Kathy WillensWho would you like to see the Yankees play in the ALDS?
After all the trials and tribulations of September, the Yankees have ended up getting everything they wanted: They won the AL East title, they secured home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs, and most importantly, they avoided the potential catastrophe of the one-game play-in.

Now, who do they, and you, want next? The Baltimore Orioles or the Texas Rangers?

If we had posed this question say, 10 days ago, it would have been a no-brainer; certainly the Rangers seemed to be a much tougher potential opponent than the Orioles.

SportsNation

Who are you rooting for in Friday's wild-card play-in game?

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    37%
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    12%
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    44%
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    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 6,977)

But heading down the stretch, the Rangers seemed to have hit the wall while the Orioles came darn close to vaulting over it. The Rangers lost seven of their final nine games, and went from five games ahead of the rest of the AL West to finishing up a game behind the surging Oakland Athletics. (Thankfully, the Yankees won't have to deal with them until the second round.) Meanwhile, the Orioles won five of their final seven and kept the pressure on the Yankees right up to the last night of the season.

And yet, I still think the Rangers are the more dangerous first-round opponent because of the most important factors in postseason baseball: Starting pitching.

And a lineup of Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish and Derek Holland is more formidable than Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez. They're also a slightly better team at home (50-31) than the Orioles (47-34), and under the screwy playoff system rushed into play this season to accommodate the addition of the second wild card, that could be important for a higher-seeded team like the Yankees, which must start the ALDS on the road.

But that's just one man's opinion. as always, we want hear yours.

Question of the Day: Who would you rather see the Yankees play in the ALDS, and why? Let us know below.

Up now: All our coverage from last night's 14-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the season finale, including Ian O'Connor's column on Robbie Cano and Andrew Marchand's Rapid Reaction.

Coming soon: My column on why the Yankees now have a clear path to the World Series, plus plenty of off-day content as the AL East champion Yankees sit back like the rest of us, waiting to see who they will play next. Marchand and I will be posting news, blogs and more all day so check in often. And always, thanks for your support all season and be sure to stay with us through the playoffs.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.337 0 11 13
OTHER LEADERS
HRC. Beltran 5
RBIC. Beltran 13
RJ. Ellsbury 13
OPSC. Beltran .906
WC. Sabathia 3
ERAM. Tanaka 2.15
SOM. Tanaka 35

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