When putting together my other Major League Baseball playoff previews, I’ll be writing normal pieces in which I compare and contrast the two baseball teams. Not in this article, though. For the third consecutive baseball season, the Boston Red Sox will be facing the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) in the ALDS. In 2007, the Red Sox swept the Angels out of the playoffs en route to winning the World Series. Last baseball season, the Angels managed to win one game before dropping the ALDS to the Red Sox.
Things will be different in 2009. The Los Angeles Angels will defeat the Boston Red Sox in this year’s ALDS. There are several reasons why I believe the Angels will triumph over the Red Sox. You almost have to wonder how FOX will survive a non-Yankees v. Red Sox ALCS.
Reason 1 the Angels will beat the Red Sox: Boston’s pitching
Josh Beckett is without question one of the best postseason pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball. He had a stellar 2009 season, finishing with a 17-6 record and a 3.86 ERA. Beckett’s been suffering from back spasms as of late, however, and he gave up four earned runs in five innings in his last performance. Jon Lester is going to be great. There’s no denying that. Who’s next for the Red Sox after these two? 25-year-old starter Clay Buchholz was rocked at the end of September. Tim Wakefield is getting older by the second and Daisuke Matsuzaka walks as many batters as Oliver Perez.
The Red Sox bullpen isn’t what you would call “shutdown,” either. It’s October which means a Billy Wagner meltdown is imminent. Takashi Saito and Hideki Okajima were shaky down the stretch. Jonathan Papelbon is great. Can the Red Sox get to him before it’s too late.
Reason 2 the Angels will beat the Red Sox: Runs, Runs, Runs
The Angels are much, much better offensively than they were during the two previous ALDS match-ups against the Red Sox. Simply put, opposing pitchers get no breaks facing the Angels lineup heading into the 2009 Major League Baseball playoffs. Bobby Abreu enters the ALDS with a .293 batting average, 15 homers and 103 RBI He also stole 30 bases during the season. Kendry Morales slugged 34 HRs during the regular season (.306 Avg., 108 RBI). Vladimir Guerrero isn’t the Vlad of old but he’s shown he can hit against the Red Sox in the postseason in the past. In the four playoff games against the Red Sox in 2008, Guerrero had a .467 batting average (7-15) and 1.112 OPS. With the Angels’ lineup in 2009, Vlad doesn’t need to carry Los Angeles to a series victory. I’m sure he’s got a HR or two in him.
Reason 3 the Angels will beat the Red Sox: Underrated starting pitching
The Angels don’t have a Beckett, Sabathia or Lee. Even without this offense, the Angels could do much worse than having to send John Lackey and Jered Weaver out on the hill against the Red Sox. The acquisition of Scott Kazmir could be huge for this particular series. Kazmir hasn’t completely owned the Red Sox in the past. He is 2-0 against Boston in 2009, though. I’m just saying.
Reason 4 the Angels will beat the Red Sox: Revenge
The Red Sox and Angels have played seven playoff games in the last two years. The Angels won one of them. When you consider that fact, you can throw the regular season match-ups out the window. If the Angels are ousted out of the playoffs by the Red Sox in 2009, I’m thoroughly convinced they will never defeat Boston in a playoff series. Ever.
The Angels are better than in 2007 and 2008. This is not the same Boston Red Sox team that won it all two years ago. I expect both teams to pull out a win on the road. Winning once in Fenway will be enough to put the Angels over the top in this year’s ALDS.
Angels over Red Sox in 5
Check out my other ALDS / NLDS previews
Why the Yankees Will Beat the Twins
Why the Phillies Will Beat the Rockies
Why the Cardinals will beat the Dodgers