Wednesday, October 19, 2005
It's The Astros
The Astros won Game 6 of the NLCS tonight, setting up a Sox-'Stros World Series. This also guarantees that there will be the 19th different team to win a World Series since 1979. Congratulations to the Astros for making their first ever World Series.
I really wish the Astros would have won it in Game 7. By winning in Game 6, their top 3 starters - Clemens, Pettite and Oswalt, will all be able to throw games 1, 2, and 3 on full rest. Had they gone 7, the Astros would have had to use Backe in either Game 1 or 2, or would have had to use Oswalt on short rest in Game 2.
I'm assuming the pitching matchups will be:
Game 1: Clemens vs. Contreras (battle of the splitters)
Game 2: Pettite vs. Buehrle (battle of the cutters)
Game 3: Oswalt vs. Garland
Game 4: Garcia vs. Backe
I like the Sox having to face Pettite twice at US Cellular. He's pitched very poorly there - a 3-6 record with a 6+ ERA. Buehrle has pitched well at home, so those two games favor the Sox.
Garcia vs. Backe also favors the Sox - Backe is an honest to goodness 4th starter, while Freddy is no worse than a #2. Backe has, however, come up big in playoff games and I would expect him to be formidable. The Sox have never seen him (not that I know of).
Clemens vs. Contreras in Games 1 and 5 is hard to call. Many have said that Clemens is running out of gas, and that his Game 3 performance against the Cardinals was all guts. Mind you, Clemens has hall-of-famer guts. Contreras is riding a hot streak that stretches back to August, but he has consistently given up runs. I'd probably favor Contreras in Chicago (Game 1) and Clemens in Houston (Game 5).
Garland vs. Oswalt is one where I think the Astros have the edge. As great as Garland looked against the Angels, Oswalt is a dominant pitcher; I think he's the best of the three Astro pitchers. I think the Astros have the edge in Game 3 and, if necessary, Game 7.
I think this is a tough series all the way. It probably goes at least 6 games, although I could see a four-game sweep if one team's pitching just totally shuts down the other side. I'd like to think that the Sox pitching can do that. The Sox should be able to fair well at Minute Maid, given their righty-dominated lineup and ability to play on the road, but getting a good start in the first two games is crucial.
I'll have more analysis as I look at the matchups more closely.
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