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Yankees Vs. Twins: ALDS Game Two Preview

Mood Music - Somebody to Love by Queen

After last night's come from behind win, the Yankees and Twins will face off again tonight in Game Two of the ALDS.  Tonight's matchup will feature a dichotomy of starting pitchers from the point of view of Yankee fans:  The Yankees will send out durable, reliable, card carrying member of The Core Four, Andy Pettitte. The Twins will give the ball to the infamous American Idle, Carl Pavano.

From a statistical standpoint, both Pettitte and Pavano have put up very solid seasons.  To give you an idea of that, here are a few numbers:

Andy Pettitte: 129 IP, 11-3, 3.28 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 4.05 xFIP, 1.27 WHIP, 7.05 K/9, 2.86 BB/9
Carl Pavano: 221 IP, 17-11, 3.75 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 4.01 xFIP, 1.19 WHIP, 4.76 K/9, 1.51 BB/9

Oh, and if you were wondering, the 221 innings that Pavano has logged this year for the Twins represent more innings than the entirety of his stay in the Bronx (145.2 IP from 2005-2008).  This year, however, Pavano has been a rock, featuring his power sinker and an improved change up, to the tune of a career high 51.6 ground ball percent.

If I'm in the shoes of Joe Girardi and Kevin Long, I would preach patience to the Yankee batters.  Pavano will attack the zone and has induced 14 double plays this season.  As the Twins used four relievers in last night's game, the Yankees will be well served to build up Pavano's pitch count and sink their teeth into the lesser talent of the middle relief.

For the good guys, Andy Pettitte has returned from a groin injury with some mixed results.  At times, he has seemed to have regained his pre-injury dominance, but he has also been susceptible to big innings and short outings.  In three starts since his return, Pettitte is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.

If Pettitte can pitch solidly and the offense can continue to get timely hits (I already prefer this years' version of playoff Mark Teixeira to last years), the Yankees have a chance to put the ALDS in a stranglehold.  While it would by no means clinch the series, a 2-0 lead heading back to Yankee Stadium would be a very tough obstacle for the Twins to overcome.

The first Game Thread will appear right around game time.  Enjoy the game, enjoy the playoff atmosphere in the community, and go Yankees!