New York Yankees at LA Angels of Anaheim 10-20-09

October 20, 2009

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Tuesday, October 20th (All times eastern)

New York Yankees (5-1) at LA Angels of Anaheim (4-2), 7:57 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York – CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.23) LA Angels – Scott Kazmir (0-0, 7.50)

CC Sabathia takes the hill on three days’ rest this evening, when the New York Yankees try to get back on track in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium.

Since the inception of the Wild Card in 1995, starting pitchers have worked on short rest — three days or less — 85 times in the postseason and are a combined 20-34 with a 4.65 earned run average.

Sabathia pitched on three days rest in last year’s NLDS for Milwaukee, but was rocked by Philadelphia for five runs in just 3 2/3 innings. That outing, though, followed up three September starts he made on short rest that saw him go 2-1 with an 0.83 ERA.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal going [on] three days’ rest,” Sabathia said. “Everybody made such a big deal of it last year. But if you’re healthy enough during the year, I think anybody is able to do it.”

Entering this season Sabathia had pitched to a 7.92 ERA in the playoffs, but he has been tremendous for the Yankees this year, going 2-0 while allowing just two runs in 14 2/3 innings (1.23 ERA).

“The thing about CC is he didn’t have the amount of innings that he had the last two years in the regular season,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We slowed him down. He’s been able to have extra rest, and that’s why we feel good about it. We wouldn’t ask him to do something that we didn’t think he was capable of or that he had [no] chance to be successful at.”

The big lefty, who hasn’t lost since July 28, was brilliant against the Angels in Game 1 of this series on Friday, as he surrendered a run and four hits in eight innings. He also struck out seven and walked a batter.

However, Sabathia lost both of his regular-season starts to the Angels and is 5-7 lifetime against them with a 4.72 ERA in 14 games.

New York is going to need a big start from Sabathia tonight after relying heavily on its bullpen the last two games. After winning a 13-inning contest on Saturday, the Yankees blew an early three-run lead and found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-4, 11-inning decision on Monday.

Jeff Mathis’ line drive in the gap in left-center scored Howie Kendrick with the game-winning run as the Angels cut New York’s series lead to 2-1 in this best-of-seven set. Kendrick finished 3-for-5 with a solo homer and a triple.

“Obviously it’s the biggest hit of my life,” Mathis said. “I mean, to come through and for Howie to have the at-bat he did right there and get on base and put one in the gap and score to win the game, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

The Yankees, who lost for the first time this postseason, had been 30-0 in ALCS games when leading by three-plus runs.

After Ervin Santana (1-1) hurled a perfect top of the 11th, New York’s David Robertson recorded two quick outs in the bottom half before Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted for reliever Alfredo Aceves (0-1).

“It’s just different kind of stuff against those hitters,” Girardi said in his brief postgame explanation. “And we have all the matchups and all the scouting reports and we felt that, you know, it was a better matchup for us.”

Kendrick greeted Aceves with a seeing-eye single up the middle and Mathis followed by driving a high fastball to left-center that was just out of the reach of Jerry Hairston Jr., with Kendrick coming in to score without a play at the plate to end the four-hour, 21-minute affair.

The Yankees scored all of their runs off solo blasts by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada. Melky Cabrera and Nick Swisher, though, combined to go 0-for-9 and left 12 men on base.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, continued his amazing postseason, as he is hitting .348 with four home runs and nine RBI in this year’s playoffs . He has also drove in a run in seven straight postseason games, one shy of the Major League record held by Ryan Howard, who is in the midst of the streak now, and Lou Gehrig.

Hoping to slow Rodriguez down tonight will be left-hander Scott Kazmir, who will try for a better effort tonight than his ALDS outing. Kazmir did not get a decision in the Game 3 win over Boston, but allowed five runs and five hits in six innings.

“I’m going to have to be very good facing Sabathia, because he’s not going to give up much,” Kazmir said. “You have to match him every inning. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Despite winning just two of his six regular-season starts with the Angels, Kazmir pitched to a 1.73 ERA after being acquired from Tampa Bay in late August.

One of his two losses with the Angels, though, came at the hands of the Yankees, who beat him on September 23. He is 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) against them.

“I’m excited,” Kazmir said. “Very excited. I’m up for the challenge. I don’t put any extra pressure on myself. I just go out there and pitch my game. With this team, the Yankees, they’re a very high-powered offense, so you just have to attack the strike zone. I’m not going to try to do anything extra, just pitch my game.”

The Angels have beaten the Yankees in both of their postseason meetings. Los Angeles got the best of New York in 2002 on its way to a World Series championship, then beat the Yankees again in five games in the 2005 ALDS.

In fact, since 1995, the Angels have been the only AL team to give the Yankees a losing record (68-80, .459).

The Angels split their 10 games with the Yankees in the regular season, but New York won three of the last four meetings. New York, though, won only two of its six games in Anaheim this season and has won there in just three of its last 12 visits.

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