|Two Days of Great Baseball Coming||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on October 06, 2011
This was one of those years.
One in which the AL and NL Division Series were all so evenly matched that you expected to see a lot of game fives.¬† In fact the only series I picked to go fewer than five was the NL wild card Cardinals against the Philadelphia Phillies.¬† That one was the only one I saw as mismatch despite the Cardinals having Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals proved me wrong as did the Rays, who I thought would go five but who bowed out in four games.¬† But even with the Rays falling prematurely, the prediction I made about us getting to see three game fives was accurate.¬† That should lead us to two terrific nights of baseball while the championship series match ups work themselves out.
In New York City don't think for a second that Tigers manager Jim Leyland will give Doug Fister too much rope after Fister failed to last even five innings in his first appearance.¬† The Yankees will counter with 16 game winner Ivan Nova, a frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award.
For the Tigers the key to victory will be getting to Nova early, and forcing the Yankees to either rely on their long relief type pitchers, or the weak sisters of the starting rotation or a weakened CC Sabathia.
For the Yankees, the key is hitting.¬† So long as the offense fires the New Yorkers have a very good shot at extending their season.¬† They've already gotten to Fister once in the series and have to believe they can do it again.¬† Of course Fister's first appearance was in the continuation of game one after rain forced a suspension of the game, so in a full start the game could be entirely different.
In Philadelphia the Cardinals will have to do what they've done so far every game -- defy the expectations and claw for runs against Roy Halladay, one of the best starters anywhere in the game.
For them to win, the Cards will have to put more runs on the board than they did against Halladay in game one where the total offense against Doc came to three hits, a walk and Lance Berkman's three run home run.¬† They'll also have to get more out of Chris Carpenter than they received in game two.
For the Phillies, it's the same old story.¬† Keep Pujols from beating you and trust in Doc, who is the epitome of big game pitcher.¬† Let Rollins and Utley set the table and wait for the middle of the lineup guys to knock them home.¬† They have to be considered favorites in game five.
In Milwaukee the battle should be a dog fight, and it's a fight in which the advantage so far lain with the home team.¬† That should mean that the Brewers have the edge, but when everything is on the line, I'm not sure that home field means all that much.
For the Diamondbacks, the key to winning rests on the arm of Ian Kennedy and his understudy for the day Daniel Hudson.¬† If they can hold up their end of the bargain and keep the D-Backs in the game, the offense which woke up back at home can see if they can continue the barrage on the road in Milwaukee.
For the Brewers it's about slugging, it's about power, and it's about the pitching too.¬† Yovani Gallardo has been reliable and has only two bad starts in his last 14 dating back to July 13th.¬† Offensively they'll have to slug it out with the Diamondbacks, something that didn't work out too well in Arizona, but at home the Brewers are monsters and in 2011 they scored 389 runs had the best record of any team in baseball.