By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The home run power of the New York Yankees will be pitted against the speed and guile of the Los Angeles Angels when the two teams clash in Friday's opener of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
"They're a team that likes to take extra bases. They are more of a speed team. We're more of a power team," New York outfielder Nick Swisher told reporters after Wednesday's workout at Yankee Stadium.
"It should be fun and should be a good series."
The Los Angeles Dodgers launch Major League Baseball's Final Four when they host the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday in the first game of their series for the National League title.
The winners advance to the World Series, with tantalizing story lines that include a possible Fall Classic face-off between the Yanks and long-time former manager Joe Torre, now at the Dodgers.
The Yanks, hoping to close the decade the way they started it -- with a World Series title in 2000 -- led the majors with 244 home runs, keyed by Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
The Angels swiped 148 bases, including 42 from Chone Figgins, and look to cause mayhem on the basepaths.
It will be Dodgers' pitching versus a potent Philadelphia attack in a rematch of last year's NLCS, won by four games to one by Philadelphia.
Pitching match-ups were not yet entirely mapped out, though the Dodgers were expected to throw a one-two punch of lefties against a Philadelphia line-up with left-handed hitters Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez in the middle of the order.
Dodgers manager Torre used an all right-handed rotation against the Phils in last year's NLCS and paid the price.
This time Torre has 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw, who has come of age as a starter, and former Phillie Randy Wolf to try and neutralize the lefty sluggers of the Phillies.
The Dodgers were also hoping to get back Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who has been sidelined by a neck injury, and have a hot pitcher in Vicente Padilla.
Philadelphia was planning to start Cole Hamels in the series opener with Cliff Lee slated for game three, after pitching in the divisional series clincher against Colorado. The game two assignment could go to Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose team has given New York fits in recent seasons with their aggressive baserunning, set his rotation with John Lackey starting the opener, followed by left-hander Joe Saunders, Jeff Weaver and lefty Scott Kazmir.
The Yanks are considering using just three starters by sending ace CC Sabathia to the mound on short rest for the fourth game so that the big lefty would be lined up for three potential starts should the series go the seven-game distance.
"We talked about a bunch of scenarios in a meeting today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We will sleep on that and then move forward."
A.J. Burnett is set to take the hill for game two, with Andy Pettitte following when the series shifts to Los Angeles.
(Editing by Justin Palmer)