Friday, October 14, 2005

The Excrutiatingly Important Game 3

Unlike Game 1, in which I noted that virtually every advantage favored the White Sox (the pitching matchup, the Angels' travel, Byrd's short rest, etc.), most everything about Game 3 favors the Angels. They are playing at home with their best pitcher on the mound. The Sox have their "worst" post-season starter on the mound, Jon Garland, a sinkerball pitcher who is working on far too much rest going into tonight's game. He's 1-4 with a 4.91 ERA in his career at whatever the Angels call their stadium now. The Sox have traditionally played poorly in Anaheim, going 15-29 there since 1995. In addition, the Angels are undoubtedly fired up about the controversial call to end Game 2. All signs point to a White Sox loss. Why does that make me feel a little better? Probably because the Sox have been winning games they should not win all year (and I just picked games from the first half in those links).

Other people can talk in great length about the importance of Game 3, but there's one simply truth - a loss in Game 3 on the road puts the Sox in a position where even if they split the remaining two games in Anaheim, their backs will be to the wall. I do not want to see the Sox when their backs are against the wall (although the one time they were, they seemed to respond well).

Surprisingly, there are several hitters who hit Lackey relatively well, according to ESPN's invaluable Stat Pack. Surprisingly, Aaron Rowand owns Lackey (not like he owns Tim Wakefield mind you):

Geoff Blum1.000 (3-3)
Everett.462 (6-13), 1 HR
Podsednik.364 (4-11)
Rowand.545 (6-11)

Dye is hitting .231 off of Lackey, but has a couple of home runs. Oddly, Crede, Paulie and Dye each have the same type of stats off of Lackey. Crede is 3-13 with 1 HR, Paulie is 3-13 with 1 HR, and Dye is 6-26 with 2 HR. What are the odds?

On the other hand, there are some Angels that murder Garland, chief among those is Darren Erstad, with a .500 average in 20 career at bats. Ouch.

Cabrera.375 (6-16) 1 HR
Erstad.500 (10-20)
Finley.500 (5-10) 2 HR
Guerrero.333 (4-12)

We'll see how this one goes. I doubt we'll see only 4 or 5 runs scored in this game like in Games 1 and 2. I think that both teams hit the other's pitchers better than their records would indicate, although Lackey did got 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA against the Sox this year, he did give up 22 hits in 21 innings. He walked only 5 in those 21 innings, meaning that the Sox showed a problematic lack of patience against him. I hope that the Sox can get at least 3 walks off of him tonight; hopefully Podsednik is a pace-setter for patience tonight.

The Angels are +135 favorites to win Game 3, implying that they are 59% favorites to win the game. That strikes me as a little low, but I'll be rooting for the Sox to come through as underdogs yet again.

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