ALCS Game 1 Preview: Yankees at Rangers

For those who think the pitching matchup in Game 1 favors the New York Yankees, there are a couple of statistical reasons to support that not being the case.

C.J. Wilson

WilsonThere are significant comforts to pitching in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for C.J. Wilson, who gets the start for the Texas Rangers against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS tonight. Wilson went 11-3 with a 3.70 ERA this season, successes determined partly by strong levels of run support (5.5 runs per game). But if Wilson can channel the version of himself that had an 0.67 ERA in 40 1/3 innings as a reliever there in 2009, the Yankees may have some significant issues with which to deal.

CC Sabathia has four career wins in Game 1 of a postseason series. He’s 4-2 career in postseason. His four wins are one shy of the all-time record shared by John Smoltz (5-0) and Hall of Fame ex-Yankee Red Ruffing (5-1). Sabathia is also 4-2 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, but be forewarned, his ERA there is 4.71.

Matchups to Watch

The Rangers have four hitters who have previously had significant issues with Sabathia -- Josh Hamilton is 1-for-10 against him. Vladimir Guerrero is 3-for-17. Bengie Molina has huge problems with Sabathia -- 1-for-19 -- and thus will sit in Game 1 in favor of Matt Treanor. Jorge Cantu’s status (he’s 1-for-12 against Sabathia) is still to be determined.

It will be interesting to see how Wilson handles the Yankees lefties, particularly Curtis Granderson, who has looked good against pitchers of either hand lately. He was 2-for-7 with a walk against left-handed pitchers in the ALDS and any sort of contribution from him against Wilson could be significant. Granderson is 0-for-6 in his career against the Rangers southpaw.

Inside Edge Says

C.J. Wilson threw 13 curveballs against the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS. Tampa Bay swung at seven of them, but missed five. In that start, Wilson threw a total of 25 pitches that Inside Edge deemed either curves, sliders or changeups. He got eight outs with those pitches, allowing no hits.

CC Sabathia

SabathiaThe slider was a major weapon for CC Sabathia in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Twins. Thirty one of his 111 pitches were categorized as sliders. He got eight outs with the pitch, allowing one hit, duplicating what he did in his final regular season start. Of his last 130 sliders thrown, 81 have been for strikes, and he’s only yielded two hits.

Historic Trend

The winner of Game 1 of the ALCS has won the series in three of the last four years (2008 Red Sox being the exception). But the winner of Game 1 of the ALCS has only won the series four of the last 10 years (from 2002 to 2005, they lost each season).

Road teams are 18-22 all-time in Game 1 of an ALCS.

Stat of the Day

The Rangers are 0-6 all-time in postseason home games. If they get their first win, they’ll hold the record for most home postseason losses before the first home win. The current mark is six, set by the Tigers … that streak ended for them in 1909.

And both pitchers have had success with Gerry Davis behind the plate, the umpire who will be calling balls and strikes in Game 1. Sabathia is 4-0 in five startsr with a 2.88 ERA, while Wilson has pitched three times -- one start -- and gone 1-0 in 9 ⅔ innings without allowing an earned run.