Yankees’ postseason experience shines in Game 1 of ALDS

New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira hits a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of Game 1 of their MLB American League Divison Series baseball playoffs in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Andy King (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The Yankees entered the playoffs losers of eight of their last 11 games. But no matter how much they’ve struggled or how many chinks in the armor they may have shown, this is still their time of year.

For five innings Wednesday night, the Yankees were making Twins’ starter Francisco Liriano look like Cy Young. They trailed 3-0 in the top of the sixth, but after Nick Swisher struck out swinging to start the inning, Mark Teixeira doubled to deep left, Alex Rodriguez walked and then Teixeira scored on a Robinson Cano single to right.

After Marcus Thames struck out, Jorge Posada lined a single to right to score A-Rod and move Cano to second. Curtis Granderson delivered the big blow by tripling off the wall in deep right center to score Cano and Posada to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.

They never trailed after that.

The Twins scratched across a run in their half of the inning, but Teixeira blasted a 355-foot home run in the top of 7th to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead. After allowing two base runners to reach in the ninth, Mariano Rivera got Jim Thome to pop out to third to end the game and give New York a 6-4 victory.

This is the time of year when the Yankees are never out of any game. They may have showed their age throughout the regular season, but there’s no replacement for postseason experience. When the stakes are high, this is when the Bombers are at their best.

Of course, this is still a team that’s going to struggle to win it all. Their pitching is a major concern and Joe Girardi’s stomach must have been in knots watching his ace C.C. Sabathia struggle in the early innings last night before finally settling in. He’s supposed to be the rock of the rotation and if he struggles, then the Yanks are doomed.

Game 2 is set for tonight at 6:07PM ET, as Andy Pettitte will take on former Yankee Carl Pavano.

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2010 MLB Postseason Schedule

Philadelphia Phillies Roy Halladay (L) and Jayson Werth celebrate clinching their division championship after beating the Washington Nationals in their MLB National League baseball game in Washington September 27, 2010.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

It took the full 162 games to decide things in the NL West, but now that the Giants have finally knocked off the Padres, we now know the matchups in the first round of the 2010 MLB playoffs.

Here’s a complete schedule for both the NLDS and ALDS.

American League Division Series

Rangers vs. Rays
Game 1: Rangers at. Rays, Wednesday, October 6 (TBS, 1:37PM ET)
Game 2: Rangers at. Rays, Thursday, October 7 (TBS, 2:37PM ET)
Game 3: Rays at. Rangers, Saturday, October 9 (TBS, 6:07PM ET)
Game 4: Rays at. Rangers Sunday, October 10 (TBS, TBA)
*Game 5: Rangers at. Rays, Tuesday, October 12 (TBS, TBA)

Yankees vs. Twins
Game 1: Yankees at. Twins, Wednesday, October 6 (TBS, 8:37PM ET)
Game 2: Yankees at. Twins, Thursday, October 7 (TBS, 6:07PM ET)
Game 3: Twins at. Yankees, Saturday, October 9 (TBS, 8:37PM ET)
Game 4: Twins at. Yankees, Sunday, October 10 (TBS, TBA)
*Game 5: Yankees at. Twins, Tuesday, October 12 (TBS, TBA)

National League Division Series

Reds vs. Phillies
Game 1: Reds at. Phillies, Wednesday, October 6, (TBS, 5:07PM ET)
Game 2: Reds at. Phillies, Friday, October 8, (TBS, 6:07PM ET)
Game 3: Phillies at. Reds, Sunday, October 10 (TBS, TBA)
Game 4: Phillies at. Reds, Monday, October 11 (TBS, TBA)
*Game 5: Reds at. Phillies, Wednesday, October 13 (TBS, TBA)

Braves vs. Giants
Game 1: Braves at. Giants, Thursday, October 7 (TBS 9:37PM ET)
Game 2: Braves at. Giants , Friday, October 8 (TBS, 9:37PM ET)
Game 3: Giants at. Braves, Sunday, October 10 (TBS, TBA)
Game 4: Giants at. Braves, Monday, October 11 (TBS , TBA)
*Game 5: Braves at. Giants, Wednesday, October 13 (TBS, TBA)

* – If Necessary

Outside of the Yankees, who have struggled of late, the pitching staffs for all of these teams are solid and thus, I don’t see any sweeps in the first round. Anything could happen of course, but pitching is the key this time of year because the bats tend to shrink.

Should be an exciting first round.

New Mr. October in New York?

Mark Teixeira has the city of New York in a frenzy after his dramatic walk-off home run last night in Game 2 for the Yankees vs the Twins. Yankee fans have been very frustrated in recent years as a result of collapses in the postseason, so they’re giddy with excitement at the prospect of a high-priced player who can live up to the hype in the playoffs. Even C.C. Sabathia got off to a great start in game one. Who knows, maybe even A-Rod will get into the act. We’ll see in the next round when they face a better team.

Joba Chamberlain to remain in bullpen if Yanks reach ALCS

The New York Post reports that should the Yankees advance to the ALCS, they are leaning toward using Chad Gaudin rather than Job Chamberlain to be their Game 4 starter. Chamberlain would then remain in the bullpen.

The Yankees would not finalize plans unless they beat Minnesota. But in informal planning sessions there is a growing consensus to keep Chamberlain in the pen throughout the playoffs.

That reflects how precious each win is in the postseason, and that Chamberlain could be used in nearly every winnable game as part of a late-game lockdown trio with Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera. But it also has to do with the Yankees’ internal belief that Gaudin outperformed Chamberlain as a starter down the stretch.

The Yankees were 6-0 in Gaudin’s starts and he had a 3.19 ERA. Chamberlain had a 7.75 ERA in his final 10 starts with a .324 batting average against. Chamberlain’s lone strong start in that period was a six-inning, three-run effort against Boston. So, if the Yankees and Red Sox met in the ALCS, the Yankees might reconsider. But even under that scenario the sentiment is to start Gaudin.

This makes sense. Joba could essentially make an impact in every close game the Yankees play in, rather than just six or seven innings of one start. And with the Bombers’ record in Gaudin’s starts being 6-0, they have the opportunity to keep Joba in the pen and not sacrifice their starting pitching.

The Yankees are always dangerous because of their offense, but this marks a different season because they now have the pitching to make a World Series run.

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