Let the Yankee-hating begin. The Bronx Bombers will be opening their 2007 playoffs against none other than the Cleveland Indians, down the road at Jacobs Field. First game match-up looks like a good one, with Yankees 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang (yeah, he last name is Wang, but pronounced Waung) going against Indians Cy Young-candidate C.C. Sabathia. Interestingly enough, Sabathia, a 6-foot-seven, hefty left-hander, has barely pitched against the Yankees in his career. Obviously, he's a helluva pitcher, having thrown 241 innings this year, striking out 209 and walking only 37. A two-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio is usually considered good. The Indians have also won his last six starts, with C.C. picking up wins in five of them.
The Yankees hitters are famously patient, but it doesn't appear that will do them much good vs. C.C. And, of course, having a heavily left-handed team designed to accel at Yankee Stadium won't help much either. Lefties have hit only .203 vs. Sabathia this year. In the Yankees favor, however, is the fact that A-Rod is right-handed.
Other Yankee positives, I think, are that Jacobs field is a power hitters' park and the Yankees led the league in home runs. Also, Wang is a sinker-baller, and if he keeps it down, the Tribe will be pressed to generate offense.
The weather report looks promising with temperatures in the '70s all week, so this should enable the teams to play mid-season-form ball, instead of the much colder, pitching-heavy version of the game that I call Fall Ball. Anyhow, I look for the Yanks and Wang to pull an upset in game one and come away with a 4-3 win.
Check back with me on Thursday.