The start of the ALDS is a little more than 24 hours away and the Angels and their fans are eager to learn their post-season fate. Will it be another year of Boston-induced disappointment, or will the Angels finally overtake their playoff nemesis? A lot of people think that this is LAA’s year and I happen to agree with that sentiment. Here are ten reasons why the Angels should at long last defeat the Red Sox:
Ten Reasons Why the Angels Will Beat the Red Sox:
- Patience – The Achilles heel of the last several Halo post-season squads has been their over aggressiveness at the plate. But this line-up is different and finally knows how to work the count until they get their pitch, taking the pressure off themselves and putting it on the opposing pitcher.
- Rotation depth – The Angels are going to roll out four starters who are all on top of their games right now, while Boston has just Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. Both of those guys are excellent, but after that, they have to turn to unproven youngster Clay Buchholz, who has been terrible lately and then either Lester on short rest or Daisuke “Effing Shaky” Matsuzaka. They say that pitching wins in the playoffs and on paper it seems the Angels trump the Red Sox in that area.
- Line-up depth – It used to be that the Angels had to try and scratch out runs with sac bunts and bloop singles while praying for the occasional Vlad Guerrero home run, but now the Angels have run producers all throughout their line-up. Every single hitter in the Angel line-up can hurt the Red Sox with either their power or speed or both… assuming Mike Napoli gets the start over Jeff Mathis, that is.
- We’re hot, they’re not – The Halos come into the series riding a huge hot streak and are clicking in just about every facet of the game. The Red Sox can’t say the same though. They did win their final four games, but they also dropped six straight prior to that. Sometimes these series just boil down to which team comes in playing better baseball and that team is the Angels right now.
- Need for speed – One edge the Angels have always had over the Red Sox is in the running game. Neither Jason Varitek or Victor Martinez are any good at throwing out runners anymore which pretty much gives the Angels free reign to steal a base whenever they feel like it.
- Defense – With the exception of Bobby Abreu, the Angels don’t have a single defender who isn’t at least above average. The last few ALDS between these teams have been marred by Angel fielding flubs, but this team is vastly better in the field and won’t be making those same mistakes again. The Red Sox, however might. They’re best infield defender, Alex Gonzalez, hurt his hand right before the season ended and may not be 100% for the series and, depending on the line-up, the Red Sox will have either Mike Lowell (limited by injury) or Victor Martinez (limited by ability) at one corner infield spot.
- Boston is banged up – Alex Gonzalez is going to play hurt, Lowell still has a bad hip, Rocco Baldelli also has a bad hip, Josh Beckett is battling a sore back, J.D. Drew has a nagging shoulder problem and Tim Wakefield’s bad back will keep him off the ALDS roster. The Angels injury list consists of Jason Bulger who has a sore arm, that’s it. Edge Angels.
- They’re due – I know it isn’t exactly a scientific theory, but the Angels are simply due to get over the Boston hump. They can’t possibly continue to one up them year after year without the Angels sneaking one by them every once in awhile. Right? Right? Anyone?
- Poor Papi – Ortiz used to beat the Angels all by himself, but at this point in his career, I really wonder if he will even get the start in Game 3 against Scott Kazmir. Papi ended the season hitting just .237 with a .794 OPS. This Boston line-up isn’t nearly as scary as it used to be with Ortiz such a shell of his former self.
- Because this one is for Nick – The drive to win a championship in honor of Nick Adenhart seems to have helped the Angels focus on something other than putting all sorts of pressure on themselves as they usually do late in the season. Instead of stepping on the field for Game 1 looking they are about to crap their pants, the Angels should come out fired up and ready to take on all comers.
I’ve never been one to only look at one side of the story, so in the interest of equal time, here are a few reasons why the Angels might not beat the Red Sox:
Five Reasons Why the Angels WON’T Beat the Red Sox:
- Fenway freaks them out – For some reason, Fenway Park just causes the Angels to self-destruct. We all got a sneak preview of what kind of ridiculous crap always seems to happen to the Halos when they visit Boston during that fateful Rick Reed game a few weeks ago. Don’t think for a minute that little memory won’t be in their heads when the series shifts east.
- Closing time – Lord help the Angels if Brian Fuentes has to close multiple games in this series. Tito couldn’t possibly be shakier right now, to the point that he could single-handedly cost the Angels the series. Pray for big wins.
- Overpowering pitching – The Angels don’t strike out much, but when they face guys with overpowering fastballs, like Lester and Beckett, they just can’t seem to do anything but produce pop-ups and weak groundouts. In other words, it could be the same post-season sob story all over again.
- History sucks – We all know that Angels are 1-9 against the BoSox in the post-season this century and when you dig deeper into the numbers it is obvious to see why. In those 10 games, the Angels have scored just 29 runs. While this year’s team promises to be better at pushing runs across, the pitching may not be up to the task. The four Angel starts scheduled to face Boston has combined to go 1-3 with a 4.10 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in their post-season history versus Boston.
- Pressure – As much as they might try to deny it, all the pressure in this series is on the Angels. The Red Sox won a title two season ago, so anything they do now is gravy, but the Halos are trying to avoid their fifth straight fruitless post-season campaign. If they fall behind early in this series, expect them to start gripping hard.