While I want to do a whole “Playoff Extravaganza,” I may not have the time, so I at least want to do a quick rundown on my thoughts for the playoffs.
I love the Rays. I love their fireballing young arms. I love the energy they bring every night to a, let’s just say, less-than-packed house. I love the athletes that they run out there. And, while I don’t love their eccentric manager because he, well, really annoys me, I think he might be the best in the game. And, pitching wins in the postseason. But, the Rangers are absolutely loaded. Did you know that this team hit .330 in September? And, while their pitching doesn’t quite stack up to the depth of the Rays staff, C.J. Wilson, Derrick Holland, and Matt Harrison are much better than their non-household names may otherwise indicate. Plus, the Rays hit .244 this year, so it’s hard to see them stacking up. I think the Rangers rattle the rookie flamethrower, Matt Moore, enough this afternoon, and then get to “Big Game James” tomorrow, and head to Tampa only needing one game for the series. I’ll give the Rays – because I like them – a game at home, but in the end, I’ll go with the Rangers in 4.
Do we really believe in the “aura” of Yankee Stadium in October? Do we really think that professional baseball players walk into a building and feel intimidated because a couple famous, dead-and-buried men used to play there? Maybe. But, whether or not I believe in the “aura,” I definitely believe in offense. And, the Yankees have it. And, it’s not the kind of offense that you might see in Milwaukee or even Texas or Philly, it’s the kind of offense that completely wears you down. It’s the kind of offense that takes just enough pitches to get the starter either tired or out of the game and then they pounce. And, I think it’s just the kind of offense that is good enough to overcome their serious lack of depth in their pitching staff. I’ll take the Yanks to do just enough to beat Verlander at home tonight. Then, I think they’ll split Games 2 & 3, prompting Jim Leyland to bring back his horse on 3 days’ rest. Even if Verlander comes through, gimme a well-rested Sabathia back at home. I’ll take the Yankees in 5.
The more I think about it, the more I am glad that the Phils don’t have to face this Arizona team in a 5-game series. While I’m not thrilled with the Cardinals matchup, there is something about this Arizona team that scares me. They did win 94 games and can throw out a couple of gamers in Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. But, the Brewers are really good this year, and I think that their pair of stars in the lineup, solid, deep starting staff, and lights-out bullpen is well-equipped for October. In a really tough series, I’ll take the Brewers in 5.
I’m scared of St. Louis, but it would be kind of weird to go into a baseball playoff series not scared of your opponent. Pujols is the best I’ve ever seen and Chris Carpenter is back to his old self. But, Carp is out until Game 3, and he still has to outduel Cole Hamels. I like Jamie Garcia, but apparently LaRussa has decided on Kyle Lohse in Game One and Edwin Jackson in Game Two. The Phils have to be large favorites to win both of those games and head to St. Louis up 2-0. Now, I don’t want to jinx the boys, so I’ll give the Cards Game 3 behind Carpenter, but gimme the Phillies in 4.