2011 MLB Predictions: How the Playoffs Go Down
It is preposterous to think we know what is going to happen as the season progresses. There will be injuries. There will be trades. There will be unexpected distractions that impede a team's progress.
That being said, this is how one person thinks the 2011 MLB Postseason might go, if the teams stay as they are, and no key players get hurt, and players don't crash into unlucky, year-long, Adam Lind-status slumps.
American League Divisional Series
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Red Sox (98-64) win the AL East in the last two weeks and face off against the Oakland A's (85-77), who got hot in August and made up a six-game deficit on the Angels to win the putrid AL West.
Brett Anderson pitches seven innings in the opener, allowing one run and the A's win, to take the lead. But Josh Beckett provides a clutch performance in Game 2, going eight and allowing three runs, with nine strikeouts, and the Sox tie the series.
Clay Buchholz wins Game 3 in an unspectacular start of six innings and five earned runs, but they get a big home run late from Jed Lowrie, the starting shortstop.
Game 4, neither starter makes it out of the third inning and Boston's bullpen shuts Oakland down to win the series.
In Chicago, the White Sox (94-68) take Game 1 from the Yankees (95-67) when Carlos Quentin doubles in extra innings to score Gordon Beckham from second. The Yankees take games two and three on gems from Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett.
Gavin Floyd throws seven scoreless innings in Game 4, to send the series to a decisive Game 5, and Chris Sale, who has long-since moved to the rotation, throws seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out eleven in a masterful performance to win the series.
National League Divisional Series
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The Phillies (101-61) have been everything baseball hoped. All four of their aces won at least 15 games with an ERA under four. The Brewers (90-72) came out of nowhere to win the central, but Greinke gets blasted in Game 1 for five runs in one and two-thirds innings.
Yovani Gallardo throws seven scoreless innings, but the Brewers can't touch Cliff Lee in Game 2. He throws a shutout for the win. The Brewers grab Game 3 on a solid outing from Shaun Marcum, but Cole Hamels closes the door in Game 4.
Meanwhile, the Rockies (86-76) have won a miserable NL West and host the Marlins (89-73) who stole the wild card from the Braves on the last day of the season.
Josh Johnson throws eight shutout innings in a Game 1 blowout. Chris Volstad, who had an outstanding year, throws six innings, allowing two runs and the bullpen doesn't allow a single baserunner in a Game 2 win.
Ricky Nolasco throws Game 3 and gets off to a bumpy start before finding a groove. He goes seven, but allowed three runs in the first and the Marlins can't recover. Anibal Sanchez throws six innings in Game 4, allowing two-runs and the Marlins finish off Colorado and move on.
American League Championship Series
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The ALCS is dubbed "The Fruit of the Loom: The Battle of the Stockings ALCS."
The Red Sox win Game 1 when Jon Lester struggles early, but the bullpen closes down Chicago. John Danks goes seven innings allowing one run in Game 2 and White ones tie it up.
Chris Sale gets the surprise nod for Game 3 and is electric, going seven innings of two run ball, with nine strikeouts to win.
Mark Buehrle wins Game 4 on eight innings, allowing four runs, but the White Sox blow away Clay Buchholz. Josh Beckett provides another clutch performance in Game 5, going six shutout innings for the win.
In Game 6, Boston jumps out to an early lead on a David Ortiz three-run bomb. But Adam Dunn takes John Lackey deep twice and the White Sox come back to win the series.
National League Championship Series
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The Phillies host the Marlins in the NLCS.
Roy Halladay gets off to an uncharacteristic slow start, but the Phillies win on a Domonic Brown home run in the eighth. Ricky Nolasco throws a gem in Game 2, going seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight, to win.
Chris Volstad follows that up with another solid performance, giving the Marlins six shutout innings, before leaving the bases loaded in the seventh. The Marlins pen closes the door, and the Fish take Game 3.
Cole Hamels is hit hard in Game 4, and the Marlins keep pouring it on when he is replaced by Kyle Kendrick. They pull away with a 3-1 series lead.
Anibal Sanchez allows three runs in the first inning, but nothing else through seven, and Logan Morrison goes deep to tie it in the eighth. However, Jimmy Rollins steals third and scores on a throwing error from from John Buck and the Phillies win Game 5.
On the ropes, Roy Halladay returns for game five, and throws eight innings, allowing one run with 11 strikeouts. But the Marlins finish it in Game 6, when Josh Johnson throws a complete game, one-hitter and Gaby Sanchez doubles in Chris Coghlan in the ninth.
The 2011 World Series
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Chris Volstad is solid in Game 1, going six innings, allowing two runs. But the White Sox get to Clay Hensley in the eighth and steal Game 1.
Josh Johnson dominates Game 2, throwing eight innings in the win. And Ricky Nolasco follows that up with five shutout innings before the bullpen finishes off Chicago in Game 3. Buehrle provides a quality start in Game 4, going seven innings, with just four hits, but one of those is a two-run home run to Gaby Sanchez, and the Marlins go up three games to one.
John Danks is dominant in Game 5, pitching seven and two-thirds of one-run ball, before letting the bullpen close it out. The offense rocks Volstad and the Sox pull within one game.
Josh Johnson allows one run in the first and two more score on an error in the third, and the White Sox tie the series at three, looking at Game 7.
Game 7 is a shootout, with neither starter lasting more than three innings. Dunn, Konerko and Beckham go deep for Chicago. Morrison, Hanley Ramirez and John Buck go yard for Florida. Chris Sale pitches in relief for four shutout innings and Leo Nunez gives up a walk-off double to Alex Rios in the ninth to give the Sox the crown.
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If I was a betting man, I would NOT pick the White Sox to win the World Series, or the Marlins to win the NL. But, aside from picking the Red Sox and Phillies, which has been done ad nausium, this is a scenario that would not surprise me.
The Marlins have the young talent to make a late run, and the White Sox have an impressive combination of pitching and hitting. I'm sure you will comment on the stupidity of my projections, regardless, and tell me why YOUR team will win it. And I look forward to that.