BASN’s MLB Playoff Preview: Scouting The ALCS

By Tony McClean
Updated: October 11, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Note to the folks at Fox Sports: Sorry, you’ll have no Yankees-Red Sox series this year. But trust me, if you play your cards right, it will still windup being good for you in the long run. Despite the whining from the Bronx, the AL’s best two teams are truly playing for the pennant.

Many folks are trying to play the playoff experience vs. playoff inexperience card in this match up. For example, Boston, combining all the players on the probable 25-man roster for the ALCS, have 126 games of experience in this round.

Cleveland, thanks in large part to Kenny Lofton’s 33 games in LCS play, have 63, or exactly half of what Boston has. But wait a minute. Didn’t we hear this last year when the Tigers dismissed the A’s.

In fact, weren’t the mighty Yankees supposed to send Cleveland home in the previous round? Oh well, I just thought I’d bring that up.

In many ways, Cleveland has a bit more momentum entering this series. Beginning in mid-August, they went on a 25-8 tear, and when it appeared that Detroit was making a move, they took three straight from the Tigers to make the AL Central title their own.

Both teams won 96 games during the regular season and showed their hitting and pitching prowess during the ALDS. So on the surface, this series is going to be just as evenly matched as the NLCS. We examined Colorado vs. Arizona yesterday, we’ll now do the same for this series.

The East champs from Beantown made quick work of the injured Angels in last week’s ALDS. On the other side, Cleveland outhit and out pitched the wild card Yankees to take their series in four games. The Central champs prevailed despite going winless (0-6) against the Bronx Bombers during the regular season.

Boston won five of seven games against the Tribe this season, manly because they were able to put Cleveland’s lineup in check.The Bosox held the Tribe to two runs or less in four of the seven match ups and just three runs in another.

As we mentioned before — pitching, pitching, and more pitching. In fact, Boston finished with the AL’s best team ERA (3.87) and the second-best team ERA at in the majors. Only the Padres 3.70 mark was better. The Indians weren’t that far behind, finishing third in the AL (4.05) in fifth overall at 4.07.

The two teams have met three times in the postseason before, but all in the ALDS, with the Indians having won two of those three series: 1998 in four games and 1995 in a three-game sweep. The Red Sox are only one of four teams to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a first-round series, winning in 1999.

Since joining Boston, Manny Ramirez has feasted against his former team. He hit .417 against them this year, .370 last season and .357 for his career, with 15 home runs in 49 career regular-season games. This will be his first postseason match up against the Indians.

The differences between these teams are so slight that I real feel this series is a tossup. Boston has the home-field advantage because of the season series, but Cleveland has already proven that doesn’t mean much — just ask the Yankees. Back in 2004, the Red Sox broke the “Curse Of The Bambino”, we think Cleveland will break the “Curse of Rocky Colavito” and get back to the World Series.

Pick: Cleveland in seven.