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Saturday, October 16, 2010
ALCS Game 2 Preview: Yankees at Rangers

By Katie Sharp

Phil Hughes
Hughes
The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees take the field this afternoon for Game 2 of the ALCS, with the Yankees leading the series 1-0 after their 6-5 win Friday night. How important was that win? The winner of Game 1 of the ALCS has won the series in three of the last four years -- but that comes after four straight seasons, from 2002 to 2005, when the winner of Game 1 in the ALCS eventually lost the series.

The Yankees have won their last six ALCS Game 2s dating back to 1999, but are just 1-3 in those games on the road, with the only win coming in 2001 in Seattle. The Rangers are still looking for their first ALCS Game 2 win -- of course this is also the first time they have appeared in the ALCS.

Let’s take a looking at the pitching matchup in this pivotal Game 2, with Phil Hughes set to face Colby Lewis.

PHIL HUGHES

As noted in our ALCS preview two days ago, the decision to start Phil Hughes rather than Andy Pettitte in Game 2 may have something to do with Hughes having a good history at Rangers Ballpark. In 15⅓ innings there, he’s never allowed an earned run. His only outing there this season was a perfect one-inning relief appearance last month.

Key Matchups
But it’s not just the Texas ballpark where Hughes has been nearly unhittable. He has also dominated the current Rangers lineup during his career, holding them to a meager .079/.125/.132 line. Although no Rangers hitter has faced him more than eight times, collectively the nine Rangers who have seen him during his career have just three hits and two walks in 40 plate appearance.

Stat to Impress Your Friends With
Hughes made history in his ALDS Game 3 start against the Twins when he became the youngest pitcher to start and win a postseason game for the Yankees since Dave Righetti beat the A’s in Game 3 of the 1981 ALCS. He’ll etch his name into the Yankee record books once again tonight when he steps on the mound tonight, becoming the third-youngest pinstripe hurler to start an LCS game.

COLBY LEWIS

Lewis pitched well in his first career postseason start last week in Game 3 of the ALDS, holding the Rays scoreless over five innings, but got a no-decision as the Rangers bullpen imploded in the 6-3 loss. This followed his strong performance down the stretch, as he went 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA in his last five starts dating back to September 9 to end the regular season.

Key Matchups
Colby Lewis
Lewis
Lewis didn’t face the Yankees this year hasn’t seen them since 2003 when he was a 23 year-old with the Rangers. He’s only faced three current Yankees: while Jorge Posada and Lance Berkman are a combined 0-13 against him, Derek Jeter has three hits, including two homers, in five at-bats vs Lewis.

Stat to Impress Your Friends With
Over his last six starts, including Game 3 of the ALDS, Lewis has allowed just three hits in 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.115). His offspeed stuff has been especially key for him in these situations. According to Inside Edge, of the 47 non-fastballs he threw, 35 were for strikes (74.5 percent) and batters were just 1-for-14 when putting them in play.