Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yankees' future may be haunted by Angels

I look forward to a potential ALCS matchup with the Angels in the same way I anticipate turning 40 and having my wife tell me I need a fully-invasive prostate exam.

To clarify, I dread the future worse than Chris Russo.

The Yankees beat the Angels at their own game on Monday in the Bronx, manufacturing the go-ahead run thanks to the infinitely valuable Brett Gardner and a helping hand from Chone Figgins, who was more skittish at third than Tom Brady in the pocket against the Bills.

The final score read 5-3, allowing New York to increase its lead over LA Anaheim of California to six games in the race for home-field advantage in the postseason. It was a key win for the Yankees, but the context of the matchup was perhaps even more important:

A postseason series between these two teams would be a bloodbath.

That reality doesn't shake my confidence of this excellent version of the Yankees, but the playoff-intensity of the game only reinforces the notion of how evenly-matched these teams are.

I know, I know, there is that whole matter of the division series to be settled. The Yankees will need to get by the Tigers and the Angels must figure out a way to beat the Red Sox, a team that always seems to bury them. But in a season where the Yankees have earned the designated title as "The Team To Beat", it's impossible to not think about the Angels in the long term.

The Halos roster is loaded with players that scare me. Figgins, Torri Hunter, Kendry Morales, and yes, Bobby Abreu form the heart of a deep lineup that mirrors the patience of the Yankees' order. Phil Hughes' misadventure in the eighth was a perfect example of the Angels' ability to wait out a pitcher.

Expect a series between these two teams to go to the distance or close to it. Expect a series where a three-run margin of victory is considered a blowout. What I'm trying to say is, expect a series where you'll need to drink plenty of fluids...and I don't mean water.

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