On Wednesday night, the Yankees took care of business and captured the AL East division title. With the victory, the Yankees also earned the top record in the American League. However, the Yankees aren’t sure who their ALDS opponent is yet. For the first time ever, Major League Baseball instituted a Wild Card ‘Play-In’ Game. A winner-take-all affair for the rights to face the league’s top team. The Baltimore Orioles head to Texas to take on the Rangers for the right to play the Yankees. It’s worth noting that the victor of today’s contest will host Games 1 and 2 during the ALDS. The Yankees will host Games 3, 4, and 5.
While both teams have their strengths, both clubs have glaring weaknesses. The Texas Rangers boast arguably baseball’s best lineup and have appeared in two straight World Series but their starting rotation depth and back-end bullpen quality is questionable. The Baltimore Orioles split the season series with the Yankees, but they lack post-season experience. Both teams stumbled into the playoffs, but a win on Friday night could provide some momentum.
As a Yankee fan, I’d rather face the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS. The Orioles are a scrappy, gritty team and Buck Showalter clearly isn’t afraid of the Yankees, but the Rangers know their way around October. Ron Washington has managed big games and he has several big time, star hitters. Of the post-season contenders, the Rangers have a line-up that could rival the Yankees. The Yankees always seem to have trouble winning big games in Texas, so I want to avoid the Rangers at all costs.
Ultimately, I think the Rangers will beat the Orioles tonight. Yu Darvish has been great during September and has never faced the Orioles. Josh Hamilton made a critical error in Wednesday’s loss to Oakland, so he’ll want to atone for this mistake. I think the Rangers will win big, setting up a huge ALDS match-up against the Yankees.