You already saw my NLCS picks, but this one hits close to heart for me.
The Red Sox weren't suppose to win in the playoffs. I picked them to lose also. They were suppose to get beat by the 100 win Angels. Very few people doubted that fact when you see the Angels rotation. But the Sox took the Angels at home. Then they had a ninth inning win with Drew in the second game. They had gone to LA and put the iron fist (you know, the one with the '04 and '07 rings). They ended up winning in 4 as they rolled on to play the Rays.
The Rays were the story of the year, going from Worst to Best from last year. The question was, could they handle the playoffs? That was answered fast as they took the first two games. Just like the Red Sox they ended up winning in 4. There rotation stepped up and the team played well off eachother hits. They came into the ALCS for the first time in franchise history.
The Red Sox won't have Mike Lowell. This is tough and makes a switch in the infield but I don't see it affecting This is tough and makes a switch in the infield but I don't see it affecting the series. When Kotsay was brought as an addition in the last days of August, he brought a versatile player that can play first. In Game 4 he even made a few diving plays down the line and into foul territory. Lowell hadn't been as affective ever since the Rays series where he first felt the pain. David Ortiz is Mr.October in today's MLB. Go back to the ALCS in 2004 when David Ortiz had two nights in a row of walkoffs. No Manny? No problem. Jason Bay had two home runs in the series, both at away games. While Ellsbury led the American League with steals with 50, he also leads off the team to get the leadoff hits. After him comes the candidate for MVP in Dustin Padroia. He had a .326 average and led the major leagues with 54 doubles. With over 200 hits and only 52 strikeouts, he is one of the leagues best hitters and has been great in the clutch. Youkilis is another option for the AL MVP with his 29 homers and over 100 yards. He has been solid every game and is a fan favorite. Lowrie is another good rookie at shortstop. This offense has had some trouble with the Rays pitching, but have also been very successful at home.
The Rays are a whole other story. They run more than most teams and can hit the home runs. BJ Upton is one of speedsters, but he also showed his power as hit two home runs in the ALDS. Hinske plays a strong place on the bench, specifically when Crawford can't pull things together in left field. Carlos Pena had another 30 home run 100 RBI year for the Rays. He played an important role as a power hitter on the young squad. Longoria also played a power hitter as a rookie with 27 home runs. Iwamura has played a successful hitter and has been a very good second basemen. Then, of course, there is the All Star Navarro behind the plate. He hit .295 this season and made himself a known player around the league.
For the Red Sox, Jon Lester heads the rotation after his great regular season. He went 16-6 in the regular season and his season was starred by his no-no. He looked great in his two playoff games while his team won both. Lester has a great fastball and has been great in the playoffs.
Daisuke Matsuzaka went 18-3 and had a ERA just below 3.00. His star season has just one problem, his walks. Still, he did very well in his playoff game also and has been a clutch pitcher.
Josh Beckett has been the problem on this playoff rotation. His injury at the end of the season made him a weaker pitcher overall after a 12-10 season. He lost his game, going only 5 innings and giving 4 runs.
For the Rays, James Shields leads the pitching charge He went 14-8 during the regular season and both the ALDS games he pitched in they won. He has been a bright spot this season and looks to be on a roll going into the playoffs.
Kazmir has been on the Rays for a few years and does extremely well, but this season the whole team did. Kazmir went 12-8 and even though his home runs was much higher than past years, he has won over 10 games once again. He won his ALDS game in the second game at home.
Matt Garza has been the bleak spot of the three man rotation. He finished the season 2-3 in the last 10 games. He lost his postseason game but in the regular season he also had three complete games. He knows how to finish the game for the team, but can he in the playoffs?
Here are the facts to know.
The Red Sox have the playoff experience.
The Rays have good pitching, but the Red Sox already beat the great Angels pitching.
The Red Sox have a bad middle bullpen which won't do well against the nine inning team in the Rays.
The Rays won the regular season 10-8, but both teams crushed at home (8-1, 7-2).
The Rays have home field advantage which will give a big win.
So who wins?
Red Sox beat the Rays in series, 4-3