Yankees-Angels: Quick hits

Yankees-Angels: Quick hits

Why the Yankees will win

1. Mo I. Momentum. They burned rubber into the postseason, winning 16 of their last 20. And they had to survive a barrage of close games. All that has given them an edge, unlike some years when they coasted in with wide margins.

2. Mo II. Mariano Rivera. Great anytime, supernatural in October. Is better than money in the bank; is money in a high-yield CD. Throwing harder, with more bite in his cutter than ever.

3. Age. It's become one of their rallying cries. Win another for Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Gary Sheffield, Tino Martinez, Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson, veterans who may never come this way again.

Achilles' Heel

Achilles' arms, really. Sheffield's arm seems loaded again in right field, but Hideki Matsui and Williams can be run on -- and the Angels are just the sort of aggressive band to take advantage. They have ways of compensating -- Matsui with impeccable anticipation and mechanics, Williams with cutoff men who run out to shorten his throws. But that only works to a point.

Darkhorse

Bernie Williams. A guy that holds a slew of postseason records, as a darkhorse? Yes, but Williams has spent most of the season in the background, deep in the batting order. But he swung a lively bat down the stretch, and he could rise for his last hurrah with the Yankees.

Why the Angels will win

1. They play small ball better than anyone. Manager Mike Scioscia calls it "little ball," but the Angels have been playing National League-style ball for years and doing it well. With players such as Chone Figgins, Orlando Cabrera, Adam Kennedy, etc., they can win like this.

2. Bartolo Colon pitches like an ace, wins twice and they only have to find one more victory to advance. He is an established No. 1, and he's coming off a fine season.

3. Vladimir Guerrero plays like an MVP, which he was, just last season. He has the potential to change the outcome based on his individual performance, and is motivated to do so after his disappointingly quick in-and-out postseason debut a year ago.

Achilles' Heel

No protection for Guerrero. With Garret Anderson's back hurting and his production slumping, more Angels opponents have resorted, wisely it turns out, to either walking Guerrero or pitching around him. Guerrero needs more help from the rest of the lineup for a long and successful postseason run.

Darkhorse

Adam Kennedy. He's not one of the more highly publicized Angels but he is one of the fundamental reasons for their success. And the record is clear. He can come up large in big games. He was the MVP of the 2002 AL Championship Series, as the Angels moved on to a World Series championship.

Key showdowns

1. Jorge Posada vs. Chone Figgins, the leader of the Angels' running band. The pitching staff doesn't hold on runners well and Posada doesn't throw them out well, but shrewd eyes on the bench will help here; the Yanks' success rate with pitchouts is amazing.

2. Garret Anderson vs. Randy Johnson. The tone of the pivotal Game 3 could be set early by this matchup. Anderson has an uncanny track record of hitting the best left-handers well, and his ability to provide Guerrero with proper protection will have its biggest test here.

Prediction: Angels in four games.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.