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Yankees keys to victory in ALCS
10/10/2004 6:27 PM ET
1. Beat Curt Schilling at least once
In 2001, Schilling started three games against New York in the World Series, earning co-MVP honors with Randy Johnson. This season, Schilling was 2-0 against the Yankees in three starts with a 4.82 ERA, though all three outings came at Fenway Park. In the second of those games, Schilling allowed seven runs in 5 1/3 innings, his worst outing of the season. Schilling will pitch Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, so the Bronx Bombers will have their first crack at the Cy Young contender on their home turf. Five of Schilling's six losses this year came on the road, so he is beatable in the Bronx.

2. Repeat the starting pitching performance of the ALDS
The Yankees were encouraged by the performances of Mike Mussina, Jon Lieber and Kevin Brown in the Division Series, and Javier Vazquez showed some improvement before a rough fifth inning in Game 4. But to beat the Red Sox, the rotation will have to be better. Mussina and Lieber will have to be at their best during the first two games at home. Brown was lit up in his last outing at Fenway, giving up four runs in two-thirds of an inning, but his last two starts have been significantly better. The wild card is Orlando Hernandez, who could step into Vazquez's spot if his tired right shoulder shows improvement in the next few days.

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
 GAME LOCATION DAY DATE TIME TV SCORE
Game 1 at New York         NYY 10, BOS 7
Game 2 at New York         NYY 3, BOS 1
Game 3 at Boston Fri. Oct. 15 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 4 at Boston Sat. Oct. 16 7:30 p.m. FOX  
Game 5* at Boston Sun. Oct. 17 7:30 p.m. FOX  
Game 6* at New York Tue. Oct. 19 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 7* at New York Wed. Oct. 20 8:00 p.m. FOX  
 * If necessary

3. Hold the lead
New York's bullpen was not at its best in the Division Series, as Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera combined to blow a save in Game 2, while Felix Heredia and Tanyon Sturtze allowed three runs in an inning in Game 3. The Yankees have been comeback artists all season, posting 61 come-from-behind wins in the regular season and two dramatic comeback victories against the Twins in the ALDS, but the Boston offense has the ability to come back with the best of them, even against Rivera. Two of Mo's four blown saves in the regular season were against the Sox, who have more confidence against the All-Star closer than any other team in baseball.

4. One-two punch
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have ignited the Yankees' offense since being moved to the top two spots in the lineup, and they must continue to do so against the BoSox. Jeter hit .316 in the first round, driving in four runs in four games. A-Rod stepped up his game in a big way against the Twins, batting .421, including the crucial game-tying hit in Game 2. Rodriguez also created the series-clinching run by himself, doubling, stealing third and scoring on a wild pitch. If Jeter and A-Rod can get on base, they will force the Sox to pitch to Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui, giving New York numerous scoring opportunities.

5. Control Johnny Damon
Damon, Boston's sparkplug at the top of the lineup, thrives in this heated rivalry. Damon hit five of his 20 homers against the Yankees this season, more than he did against any other team. Although David Ortiz hit .329 against New York to Damon's .272, the leadoff hitter had more homers and RBIs against New York than the MVP candidate, driving in more runs against the Yankees than any Boston hitter not named Manny Ramirez. If the Yankees can keep Damon off the basepaths, it will lessen the chances of Ramirez and Ortiz from doing more damage.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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