Climbing the Ladder with the American League 9/28/08
Playoff Predictions plus more in this week’s Climbing the Ladder with the American League.
Tampa Bay Rays (+103 Run Differential)
The Tampa Bay Rays will make their first post season appearance on Thursday October 2nd and are the first time other than the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees to win the American League East since 1997.Â The Rays host face either the Minnesota Twins or the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the American League Division Series.Â Tampa spentÂ 111 days in first place this season, 91 more days in first than their previous 10 years. Â The Rays became just the second Major League team, and the first American League team to finish in first following a streak of 10+ consecutive losing seasons.Â The biggest question for the Rays heading into the playoffs is the health and effectiveness of their ace Scott Kazmir.Â Kazmir started his season in May after recovering from an arm injury and finished the month with an impressive 1.22 ERA.Â As the months went on, Kazmir’s ERA has slowly climbed month by month.Â Kazmir finished June with at 2.28, July at 2.84, August at 3.13 and September at 3.49.Â In the last two months of the season Kazmir made 11 starts making it past the 5th inning just 6 times.Â Kazmir has also given up 4 home runs in two of his last three starts and the effects of a long season may be taking their toll on the young lefty.
Tampa is 6-4 this season against the Chicago White Sox and 3-3 against the Minnesota Twins.Â My prediction is Tampa over Chicago in 5 or Minnesota over Tampa in 4.
Boston Red Sox (+150 Run Differential)
The Boston Red Sox have a tough road ahead of them if they want to defend their World Series title.Â With J.D. Drew and Mike LowellÂ both questionable for the ALDS, the Red Sox will need to rely on the middle of their order to give their tremendous pitching the support they need to win.Â Since August 1st, the Red Sox are 33-19, good enough for best in the American League during that time.Â In the last 6 years, the Red Sox are the only defending World Series Champ’s to earn a post season spot the following year.
Boston is just 1-8 this season against the Angels but with the current 5 game ALDS format it will be tough to match a 3 man rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Dice K Matsuzaka.Â Strong pitching and defense is what has help Boston to a 6-0Â lifetime against LA in ALDS games.Â Boston in 4.
Minnesota Twins (+85 Run Differential)
After 6 months of games, the Twins and White Sox are still battling for the final American League playoff spot at the end of the season.Â Minnesota leads the division by just a half game but Chicago has a chance to earn themselves a one game playoff if the can take Mondays make up game against the Detroit Tigers.Â In the event of a White Sox win on Monday, Chicago would host a tie breaker game on Tuesday to determine the divisional title.
Twins are 10-8 against the White Sox and will win tie breaker.Â Twins over Rays in 4.
Chicago White Sox (+75 Run Differential)
The division was in Chicago’s hands and they let it slip away.Â Before their win earlier today, the White Sox had lost an astounding 5 games in a row, including a 3 game sweet to the Twins earlier in the week.Â This is not the position any playoff team wants to be in.Â The White Sox will pitch Freddy Garcia in their game on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.Â Chicago is 11-6 against the Tigers this season but if Garcia isn’t sharp, the Tigers could really make them pay.
Chicago beats Detroit but loses to Minnesota in tie breaker.Â Ozzie Guillen has meltdown on national TV.
Los Angeles Angels (+68 Run Differential)
The Los Angeles Angels finished their first ever 100 win season earlier today and will begin to prepare for their divisional series agaisnt a team that has become their play off nemesis, the Boston Red Sox. The Angels have not yet won a a ALDS game against Boston and will likely have the same results this time around.Â With their young pitchers far surpassing career high’s in innings pitched, I can see Boston’s smart line up getting them out of the game early and taking the series in 4 games.Â The Angels do have something they did not in the past and that’s Mark Teixeira and Tori Hunter.Â If the Angels don’t take at least one of the first two home games, it may be a short series for the Halos.
Other News and Notes:
The Boston Red Sox retired the number of Johnny Pesky before the beginning of their afternoon game today.Â TheÂ number 6 will forever be displayed between Joe Cronin’s #4 and Carl Yastrzemski’s #8 in Fenway’s right field.Â Pesky, who has been with the franchise for 57 years, was an infielder, coach, manager, front office official, ad salesman, and television and radio announcer for the Red Sox.Â A fitting honor for a person so deserving of it.