The guy even drinks a proper bourbon. Pedroia's the man.
Game 1: Wed 10pm @LA Lester vs Lackey
Game 2: Fri 10pm @LA Matsuzaka vs Santana
Game 3: Sun TBD @BOS Saunders vs Beckett
FINALLY!!! The playoffs are here, time for someone to wake up the Angels and let them know the games start counting again. But don't wake up John Lackey, I loved his last performance(2.2IP, 10H, 10R, 1K). I have to say, despite the fact that every publication out there is telling me that, as a Sox fan, I shouldn't get my hopes too high, I'm pretty confident that Boston can steal a game in LA and win two at home. I would take Lester over Lackey 8 days a week, Dice-K is unstoppable on the road and Josh Beckett will remind everyone why he is the most dominant playoff starting pitcher of the 21st century on Sunday. And lest we forget, it IS ALL ABOUT THE PITCHING. Nate Silver(check out his political work, its the best in the biz) and the boys at Baseball Prospectus agree, with their "Secret Sauce" playoff rankings which cite strikeout pitching, reliable closing and defense as the 3 most important characteristics of a successful playoff team. And this year the Red Sox sit atop the Sauce rankings. Average hitting is all that is required to win in the playoffs, keeping runs OFF the board is more critical than putting them on. The Red Sox are superior to the Angels(dare I say all?) in this respect.
What Beckett wants, Beckett gets.
The area where the Angels trump the Sox is in offensive production. The addition of Mark Texiera bolstered a line-up that had been looking for another bat the last few years. For an ordinary pitching staff, this batting order looks scary, but if you dig a little deeper, you notice that the Angels have problems extending pitch counts and consequently have a lower OBP than the Sox. In a series with good pitching and both teams swinging the bat well, the difference may end up being a couple well timed baserunners. I see the Angels swinging for the fences, and will probably put up big numbers in one of their home games, but dominant pitching from the Sox will prevail.
With injuries to Mike Lowell and JD Drew, the Sox have relied on a stable of talented youngsters to fill in the gaps, which has worked surprisingly well. Thus, I am not terribly concerned if they are not both back at 100% tonight. It would make things easier if they are their old selves, but we can survive without them for a game or two. The other unmentioned factor is the inexplicable slumps some star players get into once the playoffs start(see Rod, A-). The scrappiness of this team over the years has led me to believe the Sox are resistant if not immune to this. Someone will step up cuz no one wants to let Tito or the rest of the guys down. As bad as the national press is trying to make me feel, Im impervious to their critiques of this team. You may say I'm just pulling a John McCain("ignore the polls!") but I just have faith that the Angels are snakebit at Fenway and we will not lose 2 in a row in whatever part of SoCal the Angels are claiming this year. Sox win it in 4.