MLB Division Series Day Six: The AL's Survivial of the Fittest

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IOctober 6, 2008

Some teams know how to scrap, claw, struggle, and fight their way through when their backs are against the wall.

Some know how to completely turn the tables and overtake the opposition, while others are just giving it their one last push before they are inevitably knocked out.

The Angels and White Sox both showed the ability to fight their way away from the wall, but can they sustain it?

We'll find out today where both Chicago and Los Angeles stand. Yesterday, we found out that Milwaukee had a little fight left in them, but they couldn't muster enough for a comeback.

Philadelphia was a very much underrated team coming into this postseason. I think many figured they'd beat the Brewers, but no one thought they were a force when it came to winning the National League and the World Series.

They shouldn't be overlooked at all. The NLCS is going to be one exciting series to watch between the Dodgers and Phillies. I'm excited for the potential the matchup has with similar characteristics.

We still have Division Series games to play though and both series are far from over in my opinion.

ALDS Game 4: Tampa Bay (Sonnanstine) @ Chicago (Floyd)

The second youngster of Chicago's dynamic duo of breakout starters goes tonight to save his team for the second night in a row.

That youngster is Gavin Floyd and for the good things you say of John Danks and his season, you need to follow up with one to Floyd and his.

Floyd is a 17-game winner with a 3.84 ERA in the regular season and he was a frequenter to the "almost no-hit game" club this year. However he has yet to face Tampa Bay in his career, so there is no real record to go off of in this matchup.

On the other side is a bit of an overlooked cog in Tampa Bay's machine. The Ohio-born Andy Sonnanstine, winner of 13 games in the regular season.

Sonnastine has pitched well in his career against the White sox, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starters including a three-hit shutout earlier this year.

One White Sox that's had Sonnanstine's number is perhaps Chicago's hottest hitter in the postseason, catcher A.J. Pierzynski. With a .500 average in the playoffs, Pierzynski leads all but Los Angeles' Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Teixeira in AL average.

Pierzynski has six hits in nine at bats against Sonnanstine, yet no damage as far as RBI or home runs, which seems to be the White Sox's Achilles’ heel in this series. Getting the big home run or run batted in.

We all know the White Sox are built to hit the long ball, but it isn't exactly happening like they hoped it would. Someone, be it Pierzynski or Jermaine Dye, who has 20 home runs in his career against Tampa, needs to spark that Chicago offense.

I think Chicago is right where they want to be in terms of this series. They are down 2-1, but they got a win and here they are at home, where the Rays aren't exactly at an advantage.

Tampa Bay is used to the dome and nice weather, where they can run and win with their pitching and defense. Chicago is chilly, it might be a little rainy and, of course the wind will probably be blowing which supports the White Sox.

I like Chicago to even up this series and put some serious heat on Tampa Bay. They love this situation; it's what Ozzie has built his club to thrive on. They are the perfect team to handle a 0-2 hole and actually make a comeback.

ALDS Game 4: Los Angeles (Lackey) @ Boston (Lester)

I have to give some credit to Los Angeles and their will to keep fighting. For a team that hasn't won many meaningful games this year, they sure did come up big in probably their most meaningful game of the season to date.

This will be a game of starting pitching, without a doubt. Whoever has the better starter is probably going to win this one. Yesterday's extra innings game took a toll on both bullpens.

For the Angels, Jose Arredondo pitched 1.2 innings of work, Scot Shields pitched 2.1 innings, and closer Francisco Rodriguez went one inning.

For Boston, closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched two innings and is the only one in question according to pitching coach John Farrell. While Manny Delcarmen went 1.2 innings, Hideki Okajima went one inning, and Justin Masterson went 1.1 innings.

Scot Shields has what you would call a "rubber arm", Arredondo could probably go at least another inning, and if need be I'm sure Rodriguez could close out an Angels win.

Boston is in a little bit better shape aside from their closer, who I'm sure, like Rodriguez, could pitch a one inning save.

That leaves it up to the starting pitchers to take the teams deep into the game. John Lackey and Jon Lester both pitched well enough to win Game One, but it was Lester that came out on top.

Lester is back in the friendly territory of Fenway Park where he is 11-1 with a 2.49 ERA this season. He showed he could get it done in the big game on the road and now he is in a very familiar situation, ready to pitch the possible clinching game of a series.

Lackey is Los Angeles' best bet, so they aren't holding anything back in this possible elimination game. He pitched well in the first game, but he needs to pitch better as the team's ace.

Offensively the Angels have a lot to build on, more than the Red Sox have. The Red Sox have gotten the clutch hit, which is for sure a product of their postseason experience. But, the Angels have been getting the most hits.

The Angels are hitting .293 as a team, second to only Tampa Bay in this year's postseason. Guerrero and Teixeira are hitting .583 and .538 respectively, yet combine for just one RBI.

The Red Sox are hitting .246 as a team, yet they've knocked in four more runs than the Angels have. Talk about clutch, the Red Sox know how and when to get the job done.

One player who hasn't gotten the job done is Dustin Pedroia, the MVP candidate at second base. Pedroia carried the AL's second highest batting average in the regular season. In this year's playoffs he is 0-13 with two walks.

Pedroia is a .333 career hitter against the Angels in his 81 career at-bats. So we know he can get it against the Angels.

I've picked the Angels to win this series, but I picked the Red Sox to win yesterday, so I obviously have my doubts about the Angels. I'm going to pick the Red Sox because I just think we are seeing something special with Jon Lester in the post-season.