- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- The ALCS is brimming with big-name, big-money pitchers in both dugouts.
There's CC Sabathia, the Yankees' $161 million ace who will get the ball in Game 1. And Texas' free-agent-to-be Cliff Lee, who's looking to cash in this offseason after a lights-out postseason run. There's also A.J. Burnett, the Yankees' $82.5 million enigma who will start Game 4.
But this Yankees-Rangers series may hinge on one pitch from a reliever making a salary just north of the league minimum.
That would be Boone Logan, the Yankees' left-handed reliever who has been superb against left-handed hitters the last three months.
At some point in the ALCS, the Yankees will likely call on Logan to face Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton in the late innings of a close game. And Logan insists he'll be ready.
"He's one of the best hitters in the game, a really tough out," Logan said. "But he's a free-swinger and has a tough time with off-speed pitches. So that's what I'll go with."
Logan may be a tough matchup for Hamilton. In his last 33 appearances, Logan has a 1.80 ERA, holding lefties to a .148 average.
The 6-foot-5 Helotes, Texas, native took over the Yankees' left-handed specialist role in mid-July after Damaso Marte was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder ailment.
"What happened to Damaso, that was terrible," Logan said. "But it was also an opportunity for me."
Logan initially hoped to get an opportunity to contribute out of spring training. But he was one of the final roster cuts.
Logan had a message for Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman on his way to Triple-A Scranton.
"I was sitting in the office when Joe and Cash told me I wasn't making the team, and I told them that I thought I'd be back quickly because this was going to be my coming out year. I told them I was going to shine this year," Logan said.
That prediction didn't come to fruition immediately. Logan was called up for two separate stints with the Yankees between April 16 and July 2. He allowed 22 hits and nine earned runs in 18 appearances over that span and was sent down in early July to make room for long reliever Dustin Moseley.
All the trips between Scranton and the Bronx took a toll on Logan, who was acquired from the Braves in December in the Javier Vazquez trade.
"I knew the next time I came up, I wanted to make a stand and show them that I wasn't the guy that was going to be leaving," he said.
Logan made his stand by allowing just four earned runs in his final 33 regular-season appearances.
The 26-year-old got his first taste of postseason baseball last Saturday night in Game 3 of the ALDS. With the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, he retired Jason Kubel on a pop up to Alex Rodriguez.
"I wasn't nervous," he said. "I was just locked in."
Logan is well on his way to making good on the spring training prediction to Girardi and Cashman that he'd have a breakout season in 2010. But he knows his year will ultimately be judged on his performance in the playoffs. That means everything he's done over the last six months could hinge on one pitch to Hamilton in the ALCS.
"I totally understand that," Logan said. "I know that's how it works here. I think what you do in the postseason, that's what defines true players. I'm ready for that."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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