It’s the Lone Star State. It’s the Big Apple. It’s Nolan Ryan. It’s Reggie Jackson. Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything happens in a New York minute. I could go on for hours and hours with these crazy analogies, but I’ll leave it there for now.

Starting tonight around 8 PM, the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers will do battle in Arlington in Game 1 of the 2010 American League Championship Series. The series is set up in a ‘2-3-2’ format where the Rangers will host the first two contests before turning it over to the Bronx. Without further delay, here is your 2010 ALCS Preview…

We are less than 12 hours away from the first pitch in Arlington. To me, a few things need to happen in order for the Yankees to win this series.

  • Win the first two games: Because the Rangers and Rays played a five-game set, Cliff Lee will not take the ball again until Monday night in the Bronx for Game 3. If the Yankees split the first two games in Texas, the series essentially becomes a Best of 5 with Lee getting the ball twice. We all watched his complete game performance in the World Series last year. We saw it again against the Rays on Tuesday. The guy is a big-time pitcher who thrives in the big moment. Take that away from him by coming back home with a 2-0 series lead.
  • Get the ball to Mo: Now before you jump all over me, let me hit you with this stat. The Rangers are hitting .318 against Mariano Rivera this year. Hitting .318 is impressive against any pitcher, but against the best closer in the game? My point is, let Rivera show the Rangers why he dominates October. Get him the ball in Game 1 and let him slam the door on their faces. The Rangers enjoyed a walk-off win against him in September, but that was then. This is now.
  • Situational Baseball: The Yankees played extremely sound baseball against the Twins. They were clean in the field. They were able to move runners and come through with big hits. All of this must continue for the offense. The starting pitching is definitely there. Just keep giving them the support they need.

Before you take a look at the pitching match-ups, keep a few things in mind.

The Yankees have decided to go with Phil Hughes instead of Andy Pettitte in Game 2. The reason? Hughes is simply a better pitcher on the road (3.47 ERA) than he is at home (4.66 ERA). Hughes has also enjoyed a lot of success pitching against the Rangers, refusing to allow a run in 15 innings of work. Also, pushing Pettitte back to Game 3 lines him up to tangle with Cliff Lee. If anyone can match the Rangers’ ace, it’s the All-Time Postseason Wins Leader.

Technically, CC Sabathia could pitch in Games 1, 4, and 7, but I don’t think Joe Girardi wants to go down that path. AJ Burnett will most likely get the ball for Game 4, setting up Sabathia for a potential Game 5.

Prediction: I think the Yankees are just a team on a mission right now. Texas has had a nice run, but the Yankees are just playing way too well right now. Yankees in 5.

Pitching Match-Ups

Game 1

Friday, 8:07 PM, TBS

CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18 ERA) vs. CJ Wilson (15-8, 3.35 ERA)

Career Stats:

Sabathia: 8-3, 4.29 ERA (14 starts); 1-0 in 2010.

Wilson: 0-3, 4.12 ERA (3 starts)

Game 2

Saturday, 4:07 PM, TBS

Phil Hughes (18-8, 4.19 ERA) vs. Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 ERA)

Career Stats:

Hughes: 2-0, 0.00 ERA (2 starts)

Lewis: 0-2, 6.89 ERA (2 starts); Has not faced the Yankees in 2010

Game 3

Monday, 8:07 PM, TBS

Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18 ERA) vs. Andy Pettitte (11-3, 3.28 ERA)

Career Stats:

Lee: 6-4, 4.42 ERA (12 starts); Lee is 4-0 in his last five starts against the Yankees.

Pettitte: 11-9, 5.24 ERA (23 starts); 1-0 in 2010.

Game 4

Tuesday, 8:07 PM, TBS

Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (10-15, 5.26 ERA)

Career Stats:

Hunter: 0-1, 6.75 ERA (2 starts)

Burnett: 4-3, 3.66 ERA (11 starts)

Game 5 (If necessary)

Wednesday, 4:07 PM, TBS

Game 6 (If necessary)

Friday, 8:07 PM, TBS

Game 7 (If necessary)

Saturday, 8:07 PM, TBS