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BASN MLB Playoff Previews: League Championship Series
By Tony McClean
Updated: October 9, 2006
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Baseball’s second season has now reached its second round. We can all wave goodbye to the Yanks, Padres, Twins, and Padres. Now we all look to see if Detroit’s magic ride will continue, or if the A’s and the Big Hurt will give them an unhappy ending.
On the other side, are the Cardinals getting hot at the right time or are the Mets destined to give Willie Randolph another ring? Several questions will be asked and answered over the next few days.
Lets take a brief peek.
TIGERS vs. ATHLETICS
The Skinny: Holding the Yankees to a .196 team BA in their last three games, Detroit overcame a Game One loss to defeat the Yanks in four games. Oakland exorcised some recent postseason demons by sweeping the Twins and advanced to its first ALCS since 1992.
Season Series: Detroit won 5-4.
Playoff History: En route to its first world championship since moving from Kansas City to Oakland, the A’s defeated the Tigers in the 1972 ALCS. They would go on to beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series in seven games.
What To Watch For: Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. A’s starters Barry Zito, Esteban Loaiza and Harden are a combined 21-11 lifetime against the Tigers. However, Kenny Rogers (a former Oakland hurler) is 21-7 lifetime vs. the A’s, including 2-0 this season, and Oakland will likely face him twice in the series.
Did You Know: Jim Leyland inherited a Tigers team that was 71-91 in 2005. Only one other manager took over a team that was at least 20 games below .500 and led it to a postseason series victory: Dusty Baker with the 2003 Cubs.
Pick: No matter who wins, we’ll have our fifth different American League champion in the last five years. That hasn’t been said since 1988. The first of those champs: the 1984 Tigers. The last: the 1988 Athletics. Both teams enter this hungry and streaking. Just on a hunch, we like the Tigers in seven.
CARDINALS vs. METS
The Skinny: New York completed its first postseason sweep since 1969 (3-0 vs. Atlanta) to reach the NLCS. St. Louis defeated San Diego for the second straight season and third time overall to advance.
Season Series: New York won 4-2.
Playoff History: In their only other postseason meeting, the Mets defeated the Cardinals in the 2000 NLCS in five games. New York would go on to lose to the Yanks in the Subway Series in five games.
What To Watch For: Jose Reyes vs. Jadier Molina. The NL’s stolen bases leader and one of the best catchers in the league will be a game within the game. The All-Star shortstop was a thorn in the Cardinals side during the regular season. In six games, Reyes hit .346 with two homers, eight RBI, and four stolen bases.
Did You Know: Only three teams in major league history reached the postseason despite losing as many as 28 of their last 50 regular-season games: the 1976 Royals, who lost in the ALCS to the Yankees, and the Cardinals and Tigers this season. The Cardinals had the worst record (28-37) in the NL Central from July 23 to the end of the season.
Pick: Much has been made of the Mets’ bullpen, however St. Louis’ pen totalled 13.1 scoreless innings in the NLDS. If New York can keep Albert Pujols in check they should have an easy time with the Cardinals. The Dodger sweep gave Willie Randolph the chance to reshuffle his starters. That rest could be just what the doctor ordered for Glavine, Maine, and Trachsel. Mets in five.