Commentary

Yankees have recipe for Texas toast

Think big, bad Cliff Lee is gonna keep the Bombers from the World Series? Think again.

Updated: July 20, 2011, 3:12 PM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

Talk yourself into believing the Texas Rangers are a big, bad threat or that Cliff Lee will ruin October for New York Yankees fans.

It's not going to happen.

In fact, don't blink. This American League Championship Series might be over before you know it.

It would be a different thing if Lee -- a real live postseason superhero -- were pitching Game 1 versus CC Sabathia on Friday night in Arlington. And if both aces were going to start Games 1, 4 and 7.

Nope.

[+] EnlargeCliff Lee
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireCliff Lee is good. The Yankees are better.

Instead, Lee was needed to pitch Game 5 of the AL Division Series, the Rangers' series-winning game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hence, Lee will pitch Game 3 in Da Bronx and probably that's it.

That's because the Yankees will win this series in five games and advance to the World Series for the second straight year.

For sure, the Yankees respect the Rangers. The two teams split eight games in the regular season. Plus, the Rangers were runaway winners in taking the AL West title. Their dominance came out of the blue.

Still, there isn't enough evidence to believe that the Rangers, on this page of the calendar, have enough to beat the Yankees.

Let's not forget that the Rangers, after taking the first two games against the Rays in St. Pete, lost the next two games at home. And when they won the fifth and deciding game on the road, it was their first playoff series victory in franchise history.

Sorry, they are getting to the party a bit late.

When you look at the series, you get the sense the Yankees just have too much for the Rangers -- pitching, hitting know-how, World Series rings. And while Lee is a big piece of how dangerous the Rangers can be, don't forget that the Philadelphia Phillies got two World Series victories from the lefty and still lost to the Yankees in 2009.

Yes, the Yankees are that good.

And Sabathia, their Game 1 starter, is a big reason why. Last year, he was outstanding. In his lone postseason start in the Yankees' three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the first round, he pitched just OK, getting the win after a gutty six innings.

Having your ace on the hill in Game 1 of a series is the perfect scenario. In his lone start against the Rangers in the regular season, Sabathia picked up a 5-1 victory in April. The Rangers will counter with C.J. Wilson, who pitched a gem against the Rays in Game 2, going 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

But the Yankees have owned Wilson. He has a chubby 5.65 ERA versus Da Bronx Bombers in three outings. In fact, that ERA is the highest against any AL team except the Twins. Advantage Yankees.

That's not the Rangers' only problem with pitching. Their rotation is thin -- Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter? That's how the Rays were able to tie the series after they lost to Lee and Wilson.

The Yankees will counter Lee in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium with Andy Pettitte, who happens to be the winningest postseason pitcher in baseball history. It's no layup that the Rangers will win that game because Lee is on the mound.

The Yankees' bullpen is so strong, it doesn't look like there's room to pitch Joba Chamberlain. Wow!

Did we get to the Yankees' lineup? It's not the Rays' weak lineup that featured six hitters batting .255 or less, a lineup that was prone to getting no-hit.

The Yankees have smashers everywhere. They swept the first series with Alex Rodriguez doing little damage with three singles. He's due to break out, and the ballpark in Arlington is a great place to hit.

The Yankees' lineup is so scary Lance Berkman batted eighth in the designated hitter spot against the Twins and homered. And their other DH, Marcus Thames, also had a home run in the first round.

Yes, the Yankees should be able to win early in Texas and end this series without too much drama back in NYC. Yes, really.

The same people fretting over the Rangers were the same who told you the Boston Red Sox were a threat to the Yankees. It just wasn't true -- not before the season or even during it.

Don't believe the hype on the Rangers. It was a nice season, but it will all be over quickly now that the Yankees have entered the building.

Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.

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