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    Extra Points: Yankees must win Game Three or Six to have a chance–David O’Connor

    Cliff Lee will be unstoppable if the series goes to seven games, according to David O'Connor, so the Yankees must find a way to beat him tonight.

    The Yankees and Rangers split the first two games of the 2010 American League Championship Series in Texas and will now play the core of the series in southern Bronx, most likely deciding who will represent the American League in the World Series.

    In a seven game series in which there is a three game set in one ballpark in the middle of the series, the fate of the series is decided in those three games. The gauntlet is thrown to whomever will catch it. For this reason, it would be unwise to say that either team in this ALCS has a clear advantage at the moment.

    The Yankees took the wind out of the Rangers’ sail with their comeback in Game One, but the Rangers won their first home playoff game in franchise history in Game Two.

    In Game Three, the Rangers send Cliff Lee to the mound  because he had to pitch against the Rays in the deciding Game Five of the ALDS. Lee is 6-0 in his playoff career, and he defeated the Yankees twice in last year’s World Series.

    Yankees “ole’ Reliable” Andy Pettitte will be Lee’s counterpart. Pettitte won every series-clinching game in last year’s post season run, and he continues to defy Father Time, defeating the Twins in the first round.

    Something will give.

    In Game Four, the Yankees are choosing to send questionable A.J. Burnett to the mound. Somewhere a contingent of Yankee fans is grumbling about this. Burnett has been shaky at best throughout the majority of the season. However, this may be exactly what the Yankees need, and to do otherwise would be extremely unwise. To turn to C.C. Sabathia earlier than originally planned would indicate a degree of panic that would reverberate throughout the Yankee locker room. Plus, as much as I hate to say it, not many people expect Burnett to win. As opposed to Game Two of the World Series last year, people are expecting Burnett to lay an egg. He’s playing “with a house of money,” and perhaps that is the psychological lift that Burnett will need to return to form.

    The series is guaranteed to go at least five games. Sabathia and C.J. Wilson will each get a chance at redemption. Sabathia flopped in game one by allowing five runs in the first four innings, and Wilson allowed a home run to Robinson Cano that would eventually prove the difference in a one-run Yankees comeback win.

    However, things are very different in this game. Sabathia hasn’t been historically good on long rest, which he was for game one and will not be for game five. Wilson will be amidst an unfriendly crowd. He typically does not have good control over his pitches, and the Yankees are good at taking pitches. The Rangers are 1-2 at Yankee Stadium during the regular season. The stage is set for a Yankees win in that game.

    After those three games, the two teams will return to Arlington, Texas (if necessary). Phil Hughes will throw game six for the Yankees. He fell like a rock out of the gate in Game Two, also allowing five runs in the first four innings. He allowed seven for the game. You just can’t know which Hughes will show up for the possible Game Six: the one who was stellar against the Twins, or the one who was obliterated by the Rangers.

    Game Seven is not a fond thought. Cliff Lee would be throwing for Texas in his home ballpark. One doesn’t have to draw a skull on the ticket for Yankees fans to communicate how ugly Yankee prospects for this game would be. The championship-starved Texans would be as intense as ever, and one of the best pitchers in baseball is staring you in the eye. If one thing should be made clear, it’s this, the Yankees will probably not win game seven. Put it this way, if Cliff Lee repeats his performance from last year at Yankee Stadium, things couldn’t get much worse.

    With that being said, the Yankees should take advantage of their home field and hammer the Rangers as quickly as possible. If Burnett does redeem himself and Sabathia returns to form, it is likely that the Yankees will have three wins under their belt. This leaves Game Three and Game Six.

    With the morbid picture going into a potential game seven, the Yankees have to take one of these two games.

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