Saturday, October 11, 2008

ALCS is already 25% over

If I had posted this prediction before yesterdays game, I would have said: "Dice-K will dominate an unsophisticated Rays lineup in Game 1." And he did, so I will stick by that statement. Dice was putting pitches where hitters aren't comfortable seeing them, thru the strike zone and into Tek's mitt. I will say, the Rays have a great team who can get extra base hits, but only a few guys on that team really have a mature hitting eye, so they are susceptible to finesse pitchers like Matsuzaka. Look for Dice to repeat his performance in Game 5. And there will be at least a Game 5, if not 6. In the next few games, here is what you will see: Beckett will re-gain his impeccable form and Lester will continue to earn a reputation as an elite starter.

To come back to win this series, the Rays have to beat Dice, Beckett and Lester in three of five potential remaining games(two at Fenway), assuming they beat Wakefield in Game 4. I don't think they can do the first task, and the second task is 50/50. You cant like those odds if you are a Rays fan. Wake is obviously the weak link in that rotation, but better teams than the Rays have taken Wakefield for granted and seen him have an unhittable night(or 5 innings).

But really, the biggest game of this series is tonight. If Josh Beckett recaptures his postseason magic, the Rays might as well not even bother getting on the plane to Boston. If they can somehow get into his head and put some runs of the board to keep this competitive going into the later innings, they have a chance to exploit a nausea-inducing bullpen on the Red Sox side. I cant breathe when Justin Masterson pitches its so goddamn scary. Papelbon is the only one I trust, I just wish the Sox starters could make it 8 innings every game. And that's really what it comes down to, every pitch thrown by a relief pitcher not named Papelbon gives the Rays that much more of a chance to win this series.

I cant lie, I don't have a lot of respect for the Rays starting pitching. None of those guys really has a track record to make me scared but the bullpen is great. The Sox will need to hit early and often in the first 6-7 innings of the game to stake a lead that (hopefully) Paps and the boys can hold. As good as the Rays pen is, Boston's pitching is better in the aggregate, and as I said in the ALDS preview, pitching is all that matters. The Rays are good enough to take a few in this series, but White Boy is right, this series is destined to end in six games with the Sox headed back to the World Series in Philly to try and claim the mantle of dynasty.


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