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Red Sox+Wild Card+Angels=World Series. Or does it?

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This has been a familiar sight for Sox fans recently.The Boston Red Sox are happy they’ll be facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in first round of the American League Division Series.

For some reason, the Red Sox’s long-forgotten-’til-recently path to the World Series always seems to cut through California.

In 2004, the Red Sox swept Anaheim in three Division Series games en route to their first World Series victory in 86 years. In 2007, they repeated that feat. In 2008, the Red Sox allowed the Angels to capture a victory before vanquishing them in the next two contests on the road to a hopeless ALCS against the upstart and hungry Tampa Bay Rays.

For those counting, that’s Red Sox, nine, Angels, one.

But this is not those Red Sox. This series is far from a shoe-in; there’s a few hanging chads…

  • Despite his second half resurgence, David Ortiz will probably not resemble the .545 or .714 hitter he was during the 2004 and 2007 Division Series where he slugged the Red Sox to the American League Championship Series. Both his regular and postseason authority has been in decline and it should not be too far-fetched to expect a postseason more like 2008 (four extra base hits in 52 plate appearances).
  • The Red Sox do not have a shut-’em-down ace like Curt Schilling. While Josh Beckett (career 2.90 ERA in 13 postseason appearances) is as close to that standard as a team can hope for, all signs point to this being an off-year for the struggling ace. To add insult, it was revealed that Beckett is suffering from rather severe back spasms, causing him to miss his scheduled start on Sept. 28. Lefty Jon Lester has also been capable during the postseason, but his health is in question ever since a hard line-drive off the bat of the Yankee’s Melky Cabrera knocked him from his Sept. 25 outing.
  • Scott Kazmir, the Angel’s newest rotation addition, has pitched in the postseason and is traditionally a Red Sox killer. In 23 games started against the American League East’s most potent offense, Kazmir holds a 3.59 ERA while blazing more than a strikeout an inning. While Kazmir’s stuff has been far from dominant this season, he’s shown signs of turning it around since being acquired by Anaheim: in the five games since joining the rotation, he has a 2.01 ERA and has only given up one home run. He bolsters an already deep rotation.

The Red Sox have also not inspired confidence by “backing into” the Wild Card. The team is on a horrendous 2-7 skid, during which they’ve  blown leads to the paltry Kansas City Royals and been three-hit over nine innings by the Blue Jays’ Roy Halladay. They’ve played miserably and have made it this far simply because Texas all but rolled over three weeks ago.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, is 5-4 over the last nine games and has won four in a row. Tonight they send ace John Lackey to the mound against that same stale Texas Rangers’ team.

The Division Series pitching matchups line up close to this (if the Angels don’t run lefty Joe Saunders to the bump):

10/8 – Lester vs. Lackey
10/9 – Beckett vs. Weaver
10/11 – Buchholz vs. Kazmir
10/12 – Matsuzaka vs. E. Santana
10/14 – Lester vs. Lackey

What’s your prediction? Will the Angels upset the Red Sox? Or will the Red Sox continue their string of dominance against the American League West’s most dynamic offense?

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One Response

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  1. Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Red Sox+Wild Card+Angels=World Series. Or does it?…

    Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Red Sox+Wild Card+Angels=World Series. Or does it?…

    Baseballbriefs.com

    October 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm


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