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10/08/09 4:14 AM ET

Angels can make history with win

Home teams have never swept Division Series openers

LOS ANGELES -- If the Angels can beat Jon Lester and the Red Sox in tonight's Game 1, it will mark the first time since the Wild Card era began in 1995 that all four Division Series opened with the home team winning.

The first day of this postseason was a happy day for the home crowds. It began with the Phillies winning at home against the Rockies, the Yankees winning at home against the Twins, and then the Dodgers giving their fans a thrill in Game 1 against the Cardinals.

In last year's openers, the Cubs lost at Wrigley to the Dodgers -- and were swept in three. The Angels lost their opener to Lester and the Sox last year. The Angels subsequently were eliminated in four. The Phillies and Rays took care of business at home against the Brewers and White Sox, respectively -- and went on to meet in the World Series.

Will this be the year of home-field advantage in the Division Series? It was on the first day, and in a short series, starting right can be crucial. Just ask the 2006 Twins, who had home-field advantage but lost the opener to the A's and then were swept. It also can work the other way, though. The Rangers' only victory in postseason history was the opener of their 1996 series at old Yankee Stadium; the Bronx Bombers took the next three.

If the Angels can hold their home ground tonight, it's a Wild Card-era first.

"When you're home, you're supposed to win," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Wednesday. "So pressure goes with it. You have to find a way to deal with that pressure of being expected to win at home."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.