Despite the fact that Boston’s complete dismantling of my Angels made me the biggest Indians fan around, I just don’t see the Tribe stopping the Red Sox. With the gems that ace Josh Beckett and October superstar Curt Shilling throw in the American League Division Series, how can you bet against Boston? Cleveland got all it could ask for from hurlers C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona last round, and they’ll need a repeat performance – probably two – to get to the World Series.
The biggest question heading into this series is how rattled this young and inexperienced Indian squad will be by the Fenway crowd. Cleveland allowed 12 runs in two games at Yankee Stadium and was fortunate enough to outscore the Yanks in one of them. The Sox have a lineup that is just as potent as New York’s, especially with dreadlocked stud Manny Ramirez raking at the place like old. As long as Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield don’t put Boston in too many early holes, the Red Sox should be in line for their second World Series appearance of the decade.
The pick: Red Sox in 6.
I’m ecstatic that one of these two teams that no one west of the Rocky Mountains has ever heard of will represent the National League in the World Series. Clearly the match up that will play the biggest role is Arizona’s pitching staff against Colorado’s powerful bats. Former Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb is about as good as it gets on the mound, and while none of his fellow hurlers instill fear into opposing hitters, the Diamondbacks gave up just six runs in three games to the Cubs in the National League Division Series.
The Rockies won two series on the road at Chase Field during the year and there is no hotter team in baseball. This same Arizona squad ended Colorado’s 11-game winning streak late in the year, but the Rockies proved they could compete with the D-Backs down the stretch, winning their season-ending series to catch the Padres to force a Wild Card playoff. Both these teams are young and exciting to watch and know each other extremely well after facing off 18 times this year, with Colorado taking 10. Soon to be MVP Matt Holliday and his slugging mates will break through Arizona’s rotation and earn the franchise’s first World Series appearance.
The pick: Colorado in 7.