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BASN MLB Playoff Previews: Division Series
By Tony McClean
Updated: October 3, 2005
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Finally, we’ve reached baseball’s Elite Eight. For the next three weeks or so, even the most casual sports fan becomes a hardcore baseball nut. And rightfully so. If you can get up for the playoffs, then you need to stay home.
Here’s a brief look at the division series matchup.
YANKEES vs. ANGELS
(Angels won season series, 6-4)
The skinny: After a dismal first half, the Yankees rallied to win their eighth straight AL East crown. The Angels fought off the A’s in September to win the AL West
Last playoff meeting: In the 2002 ALDS, the Angels defeated the Yankees in four games.
Series Keys: Big bats vs. the bullpen. While the Pinstripes have the game’s best postseason reliever in Mariano Rivera, the Halos may have the better overall pen with Kelvim Escobar, Brendan Donnelly, Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez
Did You Know: Randy Johnson has saved his best for last. The Big Unit went 4-0 in September and hasn’t lost since Aug. 21
Prediction: The bitter taste of last year’s ALDS loss to the Red Sox is still clear in their minds. Plus, the Halos bullpen isn’t as spent as the Yanks. Joe Torre had his best managerial season, but it’s gonna end sooner than later. Angels in 4.
RED SOX vs. WHITE SOX
(Red Sox won season series, 4-3)
The skinny: The defending champs had their ups and downs, but they reach the playoffs again as a wild-card entrant. The Chisox led the AL Central by as much as 15 games at one point before holding off Cleveland in the end
Last playoff meeting: First postseason meeting between the teams.
Series Keys: Speed vs. power. Can the modern-day “Go Go Sox” holdoff Big Papi, Manny and the rest of the Boston bunch. The Bosox’s league-high 900 runs were 162 more than the Pale Hose, or one extra run per game.
Did You Know: Chicago hasn’t won a postseason series since 1917. The White Sox can end that drought and perhaps get a crack at their first World Series title in 88 years
Prediction: Chicago has been playing the “we get no respect” game since August and it almost cost them as the Indians made a run before fading. Boston appears to be the hotter team entering this series. But I don’t think they still have the magic from last year. Chisox in 5.
PADRES vs. CARDINALS
(Padres won season series, 4-3)
The skinny: The Padres tied the 1973 Mets for the worst winning percentage of a division winner by taking the NL West. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had the Central all but wrapped up by August.
Last playoff meeting: In the 1996 NLDS, the Cardinals swept the Padres in three games.
Series Keys: St. Louis appears to have all the advantages on paper, but they must put the clamps on Brian Giles. The Padres’ best hitter batted .417 with a combined on base-slugging percentage of 1.340 against the Redbirds in 2005.
Did You Know: The Cardinals led the National League in team ERA, rank second to Cincinnati in runs scored and are sixth in defense.
Prediction: The worst thing the Cardinals can do is come into this series over confident. The Padres have shown that they aren’t afraid of the Redbirds. However with all that being said look for St. Loo to win a tough faough series. Cards in 5.
ASTROS vs. BRAVES
(Braves won season series, 5-1)
The skinny: After another slow start (11-19), the Astros fought off the Phillies and others to claim the NL Wildcard for a second straight season. Despite a cast of newcomers and rookies, Atlanta won its 14th straight division cown.
Last playoff meeting: In last year’s NLDS, the Astros won the series in five games.
Series Keys: Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. However, if the Atlanta rookies keep doing what they been doing all year, it could be a very short series.
Did You Know: Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte are a combined 28-13 record in 60 postseason starts.
Prediction: Much last year’s series, this should be a low scoring, pitching dominated affair. The Astros got over the hump last year an finally knocked off the Braves. Despite their perceived inexperience, Atlanta still has one of the game’s best staff even without an injured Mike Hampton. Braves in 5.