So here we are on the cusp of major fun and games about to start. The cast is set. We know the players. Four teams – the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox – are the last men standing. Justin Verlander turned into Justin Verlander Thursday night when he showed the Oakland As the door and for Red Sox fans we know who the the most hatable team in the playoffs is.
If the Red Sox go to the show and face off against the Dodgers all Sox fans know who the evil villians will be. The August 2012 trade that shipped Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to La La Land and freed up $250 million that allowed Ben Cherington to retool a badly damaged engine is now part of Red Sox lore. What a delicious match up. But first things first. Beat the Tigers.
Going into the ALCS Boston has a few things going their way
1. Mojo: a magic charm, talisman, or spell: someone must have their mojo working over at the record company.• magic power. Boston has had it all season. There’s no reason to think why theses guys who really like playing with one another will suddenly lost their mojo.
2. Home field advantage: This is what teams strive so mightily for during the regular season. That one game can be so crucial. Don’t get me started about how stupid the All-Star game win rule is that determines home field advantage. If Boston were to advance to the World Series they automatically get home field advantage since the AL won the All-Star game. If the NL won the All-Star game the Dodgers would have home field advantage if they advanced even though they won 5 fewer games. The Cardinals had the same number of wins than the Sox and four more than the Tigers’ 93.
3. Miguel Cabrera is not the terror he was in 2012. Miggy’s lower body ailments have reduced his power and overall output. Sure, he hit a big homer against the As in game five of the ALDS to help put them away. Wanna know how long it had been since he’d had an extra base hit previous to that dinger? Nearly a month. If you’re Jim Leland that’s got to be keeping you up at night.
4. Speed. Boston was third in the American League in stolen bases with 123 while the Tiger were dead last with 35. A killer advantage.
Detroit gets the edge in pitching. Detroit had better starting pitching, an AL third (3.61) to Boston’s sixth ranking (3.79). Both teams improved in the ALDS to 2.86 and 3.03 respectively.
In any event it’s time get down to business. Call your friends, share a brew and a brat and get your Sox on. The stretch drive about to start.
For more analysis see Harry Burnham’s breakdown here.