BASN MLB Playoff Previews: Division Series

By Tony McClean
Updated: October 2, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — The long journey that begins in mid February, stretches through the spring and the dog days of summer, and heats up during the signs of change in September, all come to a head in October.

Baseball’s annual postseason party is always a mixture of the best of what the sport has to offer. The eight best teams are still standing to see who really is the best team in the game.
With the playoffs set to begin on Tuesday, BASN gives who a brief peek at all four opening round series while also letting you know who we think will take home the prize at the end of the World Series rainbow.
The Skinny: New York won its ninth straight AL East crown while Detroit, who led the AL Central for most of the year, struggled down the stretch but was still able to gain a wild card berth in the playoffs.

Season Series: Yankees won 5-2.

Playoff History: This is the first-ever postseason meeting between the teams What To Look For: How Detroit bounces back from their late season slide, especially since they open on the road at the Bronx. Also, just how hurt is Randy Johnson? Can the Yanks win without the “Big Unit”?

Did You Know: Despite Detroit’s slow finish, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen were constant stalwarts for the Tiger offense, hitting a combined .355 (49-for-138) with nine homers and 25 RBIs since September 1.

Pick: The Yanks should win this series, but don’t be surprised if Jimmy Leyland’s bunch pushes this series to the limit. If Detroit hadn’t slipped down the stretch, I could see the upset, but right now New York just a slightly better team. Yanks in five.

The Skinny: After a 25-33 start on June 7, Minnesota went 71-33 to clinch the AL Central on the final day of the regular season. Oakland also rallied from a 23-29 start to take the AL West.

Season Series: Twins won 6-4.

Playoff History: The last time these two teams met in the postseason was in the 2002 ALDS. The Twins won the series, 3-2.

What To Look For: Oakland hasn’t won a playoff series since 1990, when the Tony La Russa-managed A’s made it to the World Series and were swept by the Cincinnati Reds. Nine times from 2000-03, the A’s needed one victory to advance to the ALCS, yet the team went 0-for-9 in those games.

Did You Know: Since the All-Star break, the A’s are averaging 5.2 runs per game, a figure surpassed by only the Yankees, Twins and Rangers, among AL teams.

Pick: If you’re a fan of pitching, this will be a series for you. The Twins are coming in as the hot team, plus they have home-field advantage. However, I really think Oakland can overcome that. The A’s have been playing under the radar most of this season. Here’s where they make some serious noise. Athletics in four.

DODGERS vs. METS The Skinny: The Amazins’ had the NL East wrapped up by the end of July and the NL’s best record clinched in August. The Dodgers went 41-19 down the stretch and only a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Padres cost them an NL West crown.

Season Series: Mets won 4-3.

Playoff History: In their only other postseason meeting, behind Orel Hershisher’s heroics, the Dodgers outlasted the Mets in the 1988 NLCS in seven games. They would go on to defeat the Oakland A’s in the World Series.

What To Look For: Could the ’06 Dodgers repeat what the ’88 Dodgers did? All things are the same: New York was a prohibitive favorite in ’88 as well, but were thwarted by Tommy Lasorda’s team of destiny.

Did You Know: Tom Glavine has 12 career postseason victories, which ties the lefty with Roger Clemens for the third-most all-time. Just behind them is Greg Maddux with 11. Maddux and Glavine will likely meet each other in Game Two.

Pick: This series should come down to the Mets’ bullpen and the Dodgers bats. Despite the good karma that L.A. has generated to reach the postseason, New York will be be just too much to overcome. But the Dodgers will keep it close. Mets in four.

CARDINALS vs. PADRES The Skinny: The Padres won back-to-back NL West crowns by dominating Los Angeles in head-to-head play (13-5). St. Louis led the NL Central most of the year, but had to hold Houston in the end to secure the title.

Season Series: Padres won 4-2.

Playoff History: For the second straight season and third time overall in the first round, these teams will meet in the postseason. The Cards have won the two previous series.

What To Look For: By winning the NL West, the Padres have home-field advantage in a postseason series for the first time in their history. However, San Diego was just barely over .500 (43-38) at Petco Park this season.

Did You Know: Since defeating the Atlanta Braves in the 1998 NLCS, the Padres have lost seven straight postseason games. They’re also 3-7 all-time in the NLDS, including 0-6 against St. Louis.

Pick: For once, the Padres will open this series as the favorite against the reeling Cardinals. Look for the San Diego pitching staff to give Albert Pujols the Barry Bonds treatment in this series. Despite that, this should still be a close series, but San Diego should still be able to pull it out. Padres in five.