In their AL division series against Minnesota, the New York Yankees used an efficient outing from CC Sabathia(notes) to win the opener, followed by a solid enough effort from A.J. Burnett(notes) to help them take a 2-0 series lead.
The Yankees hope that pattern continues in the AL championship series Saturday night when they send Burnett to the mound in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Sabathia helped New York take a 1-0 lead in the ALCS with a masterful performance in Friday’s 4-1 victory. He struck out seven in eight innings, allowing one run and four hits in 45-degree weather with a 17 mph wind.
“It was about as cold as it gets,” Sabathia said. “It was pretty nasty out there today.”
It could be even nastier Saturday. Forecasts call for temperatures to be in the mid-forties again at gametime in the Bronx, with a high probability of rain.
Burnett (0-0, 1.50 ERA) will make his second career postseason start after a solid debut Oct. 9 against Minnesota. He allowed one run in six innings of a 4-3, 11-inning victory, although he felt his pitch count of 95 was a bit too high.
“I wasted a lot of pitches trying to put them away and then they got on base,” Burnett said. “Can’t do that against a team that can run and can do things like Anaheim.”
The right-hander went 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in his first season in New York, including 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA at home. The Yankees are 12-4 in his starts in the Bronx.
“By all means I know how important my start is,” Burnett said. “I have the least amount of postseason experience, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Burnett is 2-2 with a 4.43 ERA in six career starts against the Angels, including 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in two this year.
With Burnett starting, the Yankees are expected to use Jose Molina(notes) behind the plate like they did in Game 2 of the Minnesota series. Jorge Posada(notes) will once again begin the game on the bench with Hideki Matsui(notes) entrenched as designated hitter.
“It’s one game and we know that this is going to be an extremely tough series,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Los Angeles committed three errors and allowed two unearned runs. The Angels managed one extra-base hit off Sabathia.
“It’s disappointing but we know we got seven games in this series and it’s the first team to four, not one,” center fielder Torii Hunter(notes) said. “We’ve just got to try to make some adjustments and come back tomorrow ready to play.”
The Angels will try to draw even behind Joe Saunders(notes), who tied for the team lead with 16 wins this season. Saunders, though, did not pitch in the Angels’ division series against Boston because he was slated to pitch Game 4 and Los Angeles wound up sweeping.
Manager Mike Scioscia decided to alter his rotation for this series because of his faith in Saunders, who went 16-7 with a 4.60 ERA during the regular season.
“I thought his stuff would match up better in this park than anywhere else,” Scioscia said. “It’s important, I think, to do as much as you can to keep these guys in the ballpark in this stadium. And I think Joe has the ability when he’s throwing the ball well with his sinker, he should be able to do that, when he’s right.”
Saunders hasn’t pitched since Oct. 4, when he went five innings in the Angels’ 5-3 victory at Oakland to conclude the regular season. The left-hander failed to record a decision in his only career postseason appearance, yielding four runs and five hits over 4 2-3 innings in Game 3 of last year’s division series against Boston.
“Obviously I know I’m going to be a lot fresher than usual,” Saunders said. “So I was trying to work out as much as I could. And, you know, get the arm activated as much as I could to keep the command there.”
Saunders is 2-1 with a 6.28 ERA in five career outings against the Yankees, including 1-0 with a 4.73 ERA in two in 2009.
Rodriguez is 7 for 14 with two homers in his career off Saunders, while Jeter is 7 for 15 against the left-hander.
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