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Series Glance: Yankees-Indians

Steve Henson
Yahoo Sports


Games 1 and 2 at Cleveland, Thursday and Friday.
Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) at New York, Sunday Oct. 7 and Monday Oct. 8
Game 5 (if necessary) at Cleveland, Wednesday Oct. 10.

What got the Indians here: Star-power pitching from the top of the rotation and steady power hitting throughout the lineup. C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona are both 19-game winners – and the only disappointment in Cleveland is that both aces won't be able to each pitch two games should the series go five. The Indians have five batters with more than 20 home runs but none with more than 25.

What got the Yankees here: A steady climb from an early-season hole resulted in the Yankees entering the playoffs as a dangerous, seasoned opponent. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Roger Clemens, among others, have significant playoff experience. An influx of young arms has helped a pitching staff that nevertheless will turn to Chien-Ming Wang and veteran Andy Pettitte early on.

Indians difference-makers: Sabathia, a left-hander, and Carmona, a righty, could be the best one-two punch in baseball and center fielder Grady Sizemore is one of the game's best all-around players. Victor Martinez is suspect defensively but is the top run-producer among catchers.

Yankees difference-makers: Alex Rodriguez, the slam-dunk American League Most Valuable Player, must shed his history of underperforming in the playoffs and produce the way he has all season. Jeter and Rivera always perform well on the playoff stage, and this year should be no different.

Indians unlikely hero: Kenny Lofton, 40, realizes this might be his last chance at a World Series ring. He still has life in his bat (.296) and his legs (23 stolen bases), and could be a thorn in the side of his former teammates (isn't everyone a former teammate of Lofton?).

Yankees unlikely hero: Mike Mussina probably would be the Game 4 starter. And although the attention will be on 45-year-old Roger Clemens starting Game 3, the series could turn on the performance of Mussina, who at 38 is another pitcher battling Father Time. He won three starts in a row before giving up 11 hits and six runs in five innings during his last start.

Why the Indians should win: Sabathia is the best pitcher on either team and would give Cleveland an advantage if the series goes five games. The Indians ought to generate offense against a Yankees staff that lacks depth.

Why the Yankees should win: Veterans tend to lock in when getting a chance late in their careers to win a championship – especially veterans who have tasted victory before. The Yankees were the best team in baseball the second half of the season, and only need to maintain their pace. Furthermore, they defeated the Indians in all six regular-season meetings.

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