Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Climactically Critical Game 4

I'll be glad when the World Series is over and I can stop coming up with these lame headlines. But Game 4 has the possibility of being the climax of the 2005 White Sox season. Tonight, they can be World Champions.

Game 4 is something of a microcosm of the entire season. The Sox are able to throw their 4th starter, Freddy Garcia, against the Astros' 4th starter, Brandon Backe. As I've written before, the biggest difference between the White Sox in 2005 and 2004 is the fact that they have gotten much better matchups against the back-ends of other team's rotations. Thus, while Mark Buehrle and his 143 ERA+ matches up favorably with just about every 1st starter in the league, Contreras, Garland and Garcia dominate most 2nd, 3rd and 4th starters in the league. When Brandon McCarthy started throwing well in August and September, the Sox had five 120 ERA+ starters they could throw at teams. Tonight, it's Freddy's 115+ versus Brandon Backe's 87 ERA+. Advantage White Sox.

That said, I am listening to MLB Home Plate on XM right now and listening to Morgan Ensberg talking to Kevin Kennedy and Rob Dibble. He is amazing loose and in a good mood. He should be crushed. We should be hearing the lamentations of the Astro women at this point. That probably scares me more than anything. The 2004 Red Sox seemed loose down three games to none; that is about the only way the Astros are going to come back - stay loose and put the pressure back on the White Sox.

Like the other matchups in this series, there are very short histories between the Sox pitchers and the Astro hitters and vice versa. Mike Lamb has 5 hits in 17 at bats against Garcia, Orlando Palmeiro is 2 for 19. No current Astro has homered off of Garcia, although Berkman, Ensberg and Biggio are a combined 4 for 10 off Garcia. On the other side, Podsednik is 1 for 2 with a homer off of Backe, while Rowand is 1 for 1 and Pierzynski is 1 for 2. Konerko and Joe Crede are a combined 0 for 5, but nothing you could form an opinion about. It is mostly tabula rasa in tonight's game.

The Sox are -132 favorites over the Astros tonight, giving them a 56% chance to win the game. That sounds about right, but I do not count the Astros out. Their pride is on the line tonight, and Backe is a high energy pitcher. Again, the Sox tend to fair poorly when they should win in the post season. I actually would pick the Astros to win tonight as they suck it up.

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