The Yankees and Rangers, who open the American League Championship Series on Friday, have faced one another in the playoffs three times, each time in a Division Series, with New York winning each time.
The Rangers won the first game in 1996 but then lost three straight. Juan Gonzalez was a hitting hero for Texas, belting a Division Series-record five home runs (tied with Ken Griffey Jr., who hit five -- also against the Yankees -- for the Mariners in 1995) and driving in nine runs. New York's Bernie Williams nearly matched Gonzalez, hitting .467 with three homers and five RBIs.
The Yankees swept the Rangers in 1998. Yankees pitching allowed one earned run in 27 innings and held the Rangers to a .141 batting average while shutting out Texas in Games 1 and 3. The Yankees swept again in 1999 and New York pitching was the main storyline for a second year running. Again, shutouts in Games 1 and 3 book-ended a series in which Yankees pitchers allowed one earned run in 27 innings (0.33 ERA). In each of those series, Andy Pettitte allowed the only run the Rangers scored.
CC Sabathia will make his seventh career Game 1 start. That will tie him with Don Gullett, Dave Stewart and Mike Mussina for the fourth-most Game 1 starts in postseason history. Only Greg Maddux (11), Whitey Ford (8) and Roger Clemens (8) made more.
Sabathia owns a 4-2 record in his six Game 1 starts. In 37 innings, he has allowed 18 earned runs (4.38 ERA) and struck out 34. He is tied with Whitey Ford, Jack Morris, David Wells and Cole Hamels for the third-most Game 1 wins. John Smoltz and Red Ruffing each had five.
In his past four Game 1 starts (three in 2009, one this year), Sabathia is 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA, and has 26 strikeouts (against seven walks) in 27 2/3 innings.
The Yankees are 9-4 in the first game of an ALCS; eight of those nine wins in Game 1 have led to New York winning the pennant. The only time a Game 1 victory failed to ultimately lead to a series win was in 2004, when the Red Sox came back from an 0-3 deficit to win the pennant. The Yankees won three of the four series in which they lost Game 1. The only time a Game 1 loss foretold an eventual series defeat was in 1980, when they were swept by the Royals.
Rangers' Game 1 starter C.J. Wilson has had 174 matchups with a left-handed batter this year, including the postseason. In those 174 plate appearances, Wilson allowed 22 hits (including five doubles and a home run), walked 12 and struck out 47.
The Yankees had a .768 OPS (tied for sixth-best in the Majors) against left-handed starters in the regular season. The Rangers had a .732 OPS against left-handed starters. The Yankees hit 73 home runs against left-handed starters, the second-most in the Majors; the Rangers hit 44, tied for 13th in the Majors.
The Yankees and Rangers split their season series, with each team winning four games. The Yankees outscored the Rangers, 39-33. The Yankees swept a three-game series in New York and the Rangers won four out of five in Texas.
The Rangers boast of three players who had hit in all five Division Series games against Tampa Bay. Nelson Cruz hit .400 with a .950 slugging percentage, and had two doubles, three homers and three RBIs; Ian Kinsler hit .444 with a .944 slugging percentage, with three home runs and six RBIs; and Elvis Andrus hit .333 with three steals and two runs scored. Six Yankees players hit safely in all three of their Division Series games against the Twins. Nick Swisher hit .333 and slugged .750 (two doubles and a home run) while Curtis Granderson hit .455 and slugged .727, with a double and a triple.
Alex Rodriguez, who played for the Rangers from 2001-2003, has hit 97 home runs at Rangers Ballpark. Only Ivan Rodriguez (108) has more among active players.
Through his first 16 career playoff games, Vladimir Guerrero hit .183 with one extra-base hit. In his 18 most recent postseason games, Guerrero hit .366 with six extra-base hits.
Josh Hamilton was the Majors' leading hitter this season with a .359 average. The last time the Major League batting champion went to the World Series was in 2002, when Barry Bonds hit .370 and his Giants won the National League pennant. The last time an AL player won the Majors' batting title and his team won the pennant was in 1986, when Boston's Wade Boggs won the title with a .357 mark. In the first round of the playoffs that year, Boggs hit .233; in the first round of this year's postseason, Hamilton hit .111 (2-for-18).
Roger Schlueter is a senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.