Why the Yankees will beat the Indians

Shark squeeze out their first W
Span and Sain and pray for rain

Anyone else really excited for this afternoon? I sure am. Watching three other games yesterday was fairly torturous. And as a side note, to everyone praising Josh Beckett, we Yankee fans can attest to the fact that Beckett’s done that before on a bigger stage. It’s not a surprise, and great baseball is a pleasure to watch no matter who’s playing.

But enough about Them up in Boston. Let’s get on to the preview. Yesterday, I looked pessimistically at why the Yankees won’t beat the Indians. Today, we get the opposite: Why the Yankees will beat the Indians. The preview and my series prediction after the jump.


For most players, a .290/.366/.463 season is a career year. But that’s what the Yankees offense put up this year as a team. They had a team OPS of .829, nearly .070 points higher than league average. Soak it in for a second. And then tell me how to shut down an offense that’s scary good. Even good pitching has it’s limits.

Game Over

Eleven years ago, the Yankees had the young Mariano Rivera setting up for a shaky John Wetteland. This dynamic duo helped cut games to 6 or 7 innings. Opponents knew that if they weren’t ahead by then, the last two innings would be an uphill battle. This year, the Yankees have the young Joba Chamberlain setting up for a Mariano Rivera who has appeared mortal this year. But no matter; all the Yankees starters have to do is get through 6 or 7 innings before turning the ball over to Joba and Mariano. And then game over. Don’t underestimate shorter games.

The Joe Borowski Factor

While the Indians have a great set-up corps, their closer is anything but a sure thing. This season, Borowski threw 0.2 innings against the Yanks and was utterly shelled. In his career, he’s thrown 7.0 innings, giving up 15 hits, 12 earned runs and 5 HR. Despite nailing 45 saves this season, his numbers – 5.07 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .289 BAA – are hardly pretty. While the Yanks can shorten their games with the right bullpen combination, the Indians and their fans are generally on pins and needles when Borowski pitches, and as Jose Mesa proved to the Indians in 1997, it’s hard to get through October with a bad closer.

The Kids and Old Men Are Alright

The Yankees have six rookies on their postseason roster and a few other guys under 26. It’s a veritable youth movement in the Bronx, and these kids are good enough to win. The only question is: Who’s going to step up big in the right spot? Melky? Shelley? Ross Ohlendorf? We’ll find out. Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum are Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina. We can debate for hours whether or not Phil Hughes is a better fit for the rotation (he is), but Clemens and Mussina are what we have. It’s a last gasp for both of them, and they’ll want to win – again for Clemens and for the first time for Mussina. Sure, this is an intangible, but I’ll take it.

The A-Rod Factor

While the Indians have their hot Pronk, the Yankees have the best player in the Majors. It’s almost unnecessary to repeat the numbers, but take a look: .314/.422/.645-54-156. He pulled down a VORP of 96.6 and carried the Yanks through thick and thin this year. This postseason, it’s all about A-Rod, and this will be the year – other than the first three games of the 2004 ALCS – he steps up and delivers. Plus, if the Indians pitch around A-Rod, they’ll have to deal with Jorge Posada who would have been the MVP any other year. Or Robinson Cano. Or…well, you get the point.

The Prediction

So there you have it. The Yankees head into this series knowing they can beat the Indians. They’ve done it six times already this year. And I think they’ll do it again. The Indians are a well-rounded team, but they’re not perfect. I’m not confident the Yankees will win tonight, but I think tonight will be the only game the Indians win.

Yankees in 4

Shark squeeze out their first W
Span and Sain and pray for rain
  • yankz

    “And then tell me how to shut down an offense that’s scary good.”

    Andy Sonnanstine, or whatever that dude’s name is.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      How about over a five-game stretch when two of your pitchers are Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook and the other is a 23-year-old?

      • http://www.yanksblog.com James Varghese

        People are not giving Jake W. the respect he deserves.

        His numbers look a lot better if you either knock out his first three starts (results in a .267/.330/.353/.683 BAA against and a 3.62 ERA) or just look at his starts after he came back from injury (.271/.334/.358/.692 and 3.54 ERA). Factor in those GB ratios (2.14:1 after the ASB) and you’re looking at a Chien-Ming Wang clone.

        • Relaunch

          He is not good against a team like the Yanks. Yanks work the count and have a higher OBP than most teams. The chances of their hits scoring runs is alot greater than when he faces another team.

        • kanst

          vs. Finesse pitchers this year the Yankees have hit .340/.394/.537

          Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd are the type of pitchers the Yankees eat alive

  • Count Zero

    My mood has changed from pessimism to irrational confidence over the past two days. I now feel like we’re going to sweep…and score a ton of runs doing it.

    Tonight: Yanks 8 Tribe 2

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    even BPro said Wang should be held until game 3 due to his home/road splits.

    i’ll say Yanks in 4.

    • Count Zero

      I say fie on BP and their advice…statistics mean nothing in a short series! Irrational confidence rules the day today! It’s playoff time! I have ironed my best #51 shirt for luck, and my cap has been bent to a curvature that precisely models the rotundity of the Bambino’s belly. Beers are chillin’ in the fridge downstairs, and the radio is set in case I would rather listen to that than the idiots on TBS. :-)

      What’s more, I have sensed a great disturbance in the force and it portends a sweep for the Empire. Cleveland’s X-Wing fighters will prove unable to stop the Yankee Deathstar from obliterating the entire state of Ohio! (except for King James who is hiding out on Dantooine with the rest of our loyal sympathizers)

      Also, it will be revealed on Sunday that Babe Ruth is actually Big Papi’s great-grandfather.

  • js

    Predicting this series is easy – take Steve Phillips prediction and the opposite will happen.

  • jake

    “Even good pitching has it’s limits.”

    No it doesn’t. A good pitcher on top of his game will shut down any offense. Where do you get this stuff?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      For five games in a row? And it’s not like the Indians have great pitchers lined up for the entire series. Where do you get this stuff?

  • Michael T

    In the 3 playoff games played so far there have been four terrific starting piching performances, one good one, and one (Lackey) fair but not a disaster.

    Would anyone be surprised if the one starting pitcher of the first 8 to put up a clunker was our man Wang?

    • Count Zero

      Ooooh – ooooh – me! Me! Me! Me!

      You guys are a total downer. Why not just take a dose of strychnine and get it over with…

    • http://www.yanksblog.com James Varghese

      Screw that – Wang’s shown he can pitch in pressure situations. 7 solid from Chien-Ming tonight.

      • http://www.yanksblog.com James Varghese

        …and I’m wrong. Man was I wrong.

  • yankz

    Detroit shut us down pretty good for three and half games last year. Boston did it for four in a row in 04.

    Not saying it will happen, I don’t think it will, but it’s definitely possible that Sabathia throws two gems.

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  • Count Zero

    What’s this I hear about Mink and a cameraman accident?!?! Someone tell me it isn’t so?

    Have that cameraman arrested and executed immediately!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      We’re waiting on word of this. I’m hearing things too but nothing’s confirmed.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      We’ve got the story covered in the game thread. Check it out.