x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Power meets speed as the Yankees clash with Angels

The home-run power of the New York Yankees will be pitted against the speed and guile of the Los Angeles Angels when the teams clash in tonight's opening game in the American League Championship Series.

The Yankees' Hideki Matsui at batting practice in preparation for tonight's game with the Angels.
The Yankees' Hideki Matsui at batting practice in preparation for tonight's game with the Angels.

NEW YORK// The home-run power of the New York Yankees will be pitted against the speed and guile of the Los Angeles Angels when the teams clash in tonight's opening game in the American League Championship Series. "They're a team who like to take extra bases. They are more of a speed team. We're more of a power team," said the New York outfielder Nick Swisher.

"It should be fun and should be a good series." The winners of the best-of-seven contest will face the Los Angeles Dodgers or Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, and there are a couple of intriguing potential scenarios. As well as the possibility of the two Los Angeles teams meeting, there is also the chance of the Dodgers facing the Yankees. This would pit the Dodgers' manager Joe Torre, who won four World Series with New York, against his former team. Torre's departure from the Yankees was acrimonious and highly publicised, and beating New York in baseball's fall classic would give him immense satisfaction.

The Yankees, who last won the World Series in 2000, led the majors in the regular season with 244 home runs, keyed by Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. The Angels, meanwhile, swiped 148 bases, including 42 from Chone Figgins, and look to cause mayhem on the basepaths. The Angels' manager, Mike Scioscia, whose team have given New York fits in recent seasons with their aggressive base running, set his rotation with John Lackey starting tonight's opener, followed by Joe Saunders, Jeff Weaver and Scott Kazmir. Lackey, who pitched seven-and-a-third innings to lead Los Angeles to a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game One of the division series, is 3-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 12 career post-season games.

Lackey said: "It's the same as the last round. It helps to win the first game, but the importance is probably a little bit less in a seven-game series, especially being on the road. It'll be a challenge the whole series. They're a great team." The Yankees are considering using just three starters by sending their ace, CC Sabathia, to the mound on a short rest for the fourth game so that the big lefty would be lined up for three potential starts should the series go the full seven-game distance.

AJ Burnett is set to take the mound for game two, with Andy Pettitte following when the series shifts to Los Angeles. * Reuters