Wednesday, October 01, 2008

And Away We Go...

Can you smell that? Huh? Take a deep sniff and exhale... that's right, it's October baseball and our boys are back in it.

Now that the White Sox have finally vanquished the Twins (the teams played in a do-or-die game last night, won 1-0 by John Danks and the White Sox), the matchups are officially set.

In the AL, it's the Red Sox vs. the Angels and the Rays vs. Chicago. In the NL, it's Cinderella Milwaukee going against Philly, and the Cubbies playing Manny and the Dodgers. All except the Rays-ChiSox series get underway today.

The Sox have owned the Angels when the leaves turn colors, but not so much during the 2008 regular season. The Angels won 8 of the 9 games the teams played, and outscored the Sox 61-33 in the process. Not pretty. We know as well as anyone that anything can happen in October, but when you factor in the injuries to Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew, along with the little setback with Josh Beckett, it's cause for concern. If Lowell can play the field, you now Scioscia and his merry band of bunters will be out for blood. It goes without saying that Jon Lester needs to come up huge tonight, and if he doesn't, Dice-K needs to get the split Friday night. Seems like the Angels' year, though. (Head thinking over heart) Angels in 5.

This one seems easy on the surface. The Rays have been resilient all year long, and the White Sox have been playing for their lives for the last couple weeks. The season series between the two was about as close as you can get -- 6-4 in favor of the Rays, with Tampa scoring 36 runs and Chicago 35. The White Sox were shut out twice by the Rays, once by Scott Kazmir and once by Andy Sonnanstine. In the end, I think the home-field advantage proves big for the Rays, who will take it in 4.

Can CC Sabathia pitch every day? Is that medically possible? Everyone will be pulling for the upstart Brewers, and much as I'd like to pick them for an upset, I think Philly wins this one. The Brewers had to scratch and claw their way into the playoffs, and now have to start Yovani Gallardo in the first game. Ben Sheets is either iffy or out. And former Red Sox 3B coach Dale Sveum is the Brewers' manager. Sorry - too many strikes. Phillies in 4.

Manny's on top of the world in LA, along with Nomar and Derek Lowe. It's a veritable Red Sox Ellis Island out there. The Manny drama aside, this could be the best series of the four. The Dodgers have been in a major groove fueled by Manny's potent bat, and we all know that he's quite capable of hitting good pitching, which the Cubbies certainly have with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Rich Harden. While nothing ever comes easy for the Cubs (over/under on how many times we hear Bartman's name?), something tells me this year is a little different. Cubs in 4.

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