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Is this the year - at last - for the New York Yankees?

It's been nine years since the Yankees' last World Series title – an eternity for New York. But the Yanks are well positioned to make amends, starting Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins.

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The most important factor in the postseason, say others, is for a team to have three good starting pitchers and a lights-out closer who can shut down the opposition in the ninth inning.

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"It's all about pitching in the postseason," says Brian Brewer, coach of Marietta College in Ohio, which won the Division III World Series in 2006. "The Yankees have a pretty experienced pitching staff."

Left-hander Sabathia is akin to an NFL lineman in pinstripes, throwing a baseball with pinpoint accuracy. He tied for the league-lead in wins, with 19 and was fifth in the American League with a 3.37 earned run average.

But after Sabathia, the Yankee starters are more vulnerable. Righty A.J. Burnett, a raw-boned veteran with both speed and guile, has been inconsistent. Lefty Andy Pettitte has had a good second half to the season but is not as dominant as he once was.

If the Red Sox get past the Los Angeles Angels, whom they have beaten in nine of their last 10 postseason games, they may face the Yankees.

"Boston has the best power arms," says Mr. Brewer. "Their arms are unbelievable."

The winning team is likely to be one that gets "very hot" over a very short period, says Gabriel Schechter, a researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Yankees have been on the right emotional arc this season. They started out coping with the latest Alex Rodriguez controversy – revelations about his past steroid use – and Teixeira's apparent inability to hit anything smaller than a cantaloupe.

But since the All-Star break, the Yankees have been reborn, with Teixeira blasting shots into the stands and shortstop Derek Jeter being his usual model of excellence and consistency.

All of this leads to a new confidence – and more pies.

"It's nothing other than a good sign," says Mr. Schechter. "It's cool they are having fun with it."