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Can't Dodge the ending

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff September 30, 2008 09:44 AM

Last year it was Matt Holliday scoring the (controversial) winning run in arguably the most thrilling baseball game of the 2007 calendar year.

Tonight, it will be hard to anticipate the drama witnessed in Coloradoís one-game playoff over the Padres of a season ago, but at least weíll have some answers.

Itís going to take the first one-game playoff in the American League since 1995, (Angels-Mariners) and only the third since 1978 (Red Sox-Yankees) to fully set up the particulars in the AL playoffs. By virtue of its 8-2 win over Detroit last night, Chicago welcomes Minnesota in a winner-take-Tampa contest this evening.

The White Sox appear to be the favorite, although based on their offseason activity, there would be something fitting about the Twins and Rays matching up in the ALDS, considering it was Minnesota that helped the hardball fairy tale happen by dealing Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza to Tampa.

So, in all, there will be eight left standing, perhaps only four by Sunday, which, considering it took 162 games to get to this point, seems hardly fair. But unless you want to extend the series two more games, and play until November (which they might do next year anyway, thanks to the foolhardy World Baseball Classic) the LDS is going to remain a five-game set.

Of the nine remaining today, hereís who is not winning the World Series: Milwaukee and Philadelphia. As awesome as CC Sabathia has been, itís not just the amount heís thrown lately thatís to be concerning, but his postseason resume of a year ago: 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA in the ALCS vs. Boston. And while I like the Phillies to win the series in three, either team really is going to play sacrificial lamb for the Cubs, the best team in the National League, or the Dodgers, the hottest team.

Now, look, I understand the want and hope of romanticizing the Cubs and their quest for an even 100 years between titles, but is anyone paying attention? Itís not just that Manny Ramirez hit .900 with 42 home runs since arriving in Los Angeles. Itís not just that Joe Torre has arguably his best chance since the 2001 Yankees. But what about Derek Lowe, he of the 3-0, 0.66 ERA September? Anyone remember what kind of things he can do on a playoff run? Anyone?

While the Dodgers didnít exactly go on a late-season hot streak like the Rockies of a year ago, it was the kind of September that can launch a team into the postseason on a threatening note. Of course, that can also be terribly overrated, as you might remember with the White Sox of three seasons ago, who nearly blew their division lead in the final weekend of the season, then rolled to the crown during the ensuing weeks.

If Iím Torre, I feel good about taking my chances with a trio of Lowe, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda, who as Tim Kurkijan points out, allowed one earned run in 15 1/3 innings against the Cubs this year. Thatís not to disparage Cubs starters Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Rich Harden. We're just noting that this is a balanced matchup that could very well be tipped by momentum. And one very potent bat.

In the American League, while I canít exactly speak very highly of either the White Sox' or Twins' chances of winning the World Series, it would be somewhat duplicitous of me to talk of momentum and then disregard either entirely off the high of winning Game 163. Although of the six one-game playoff games since 1978, only two have gone on to the World Series, and only one has won it (New York). So, taking that into account, weíre talking one of Tampa, Boston, or Los Angeles.

At this point, itís a three-way toss-up. Boston is behind the injury eight-ball with major question marks surrounding Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and J.D. Drew. But the Angels have never beaten them in an October playoff series, and while John Lackey and Co. roughed up the Red Sox to the tune of an 8-1 mark during the regular season, their staff ace is coming off a final tuneup for the playoffs in which he allowed 10 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against Texas, watching his final season ERA jump a half-run from 3.25 to 3.75. Heíll go up against Jon Lester, who yesterday was named AL Pitcher of the Month for the second time this season.

If you like momentum, you have to like Bostonís Game 1 chances, no?

Also, consider this. Take away his last start of the season, and Lackey still had a subpar September, 1-1 with a 4.48 ERA. Game 2 starter Ervin Santana was equally as bad in his last start of the season, giving up eight runs to the Rangers over 5 2/3 innings Game 3 starter Joe Saunders, who has a 15-inning scoreless-inning streak going, missed his second-to-last start of the season with a kidney stone.

The Red Sox, while they have issues, have had issues since May. And all they did was win one fewer game than last season. Boston in four.

That will pit the Sox against the Rays Ė who will take the ALDS in four games themselves Ė in a baseball apocalyptical LCS. The dream ends with a shot off the catwalk. Red Sox in six.

Boston-Los Angeles.

It begins with the two cities.

It will end with the two cities.

No free furniture this time though.

Dodgers in six. Manny, Lowe, Nomar, and Torre celebrate on the Fenway lawn.

40 comments so far...
  1. No comment... foolish drivel..

    Posted by PP September 30, 08 10:43 AM
  1. You have an excellent record for eating your words when you predict Red Sox failure (see: 2007), so, I'm glad to hear this prediction. You make it more fun.

    I do hope for a Sox-Dodgers matchup. But if the Sox don't make it out of the American League, I'm hoping for Cubs-Rays.

    Posted by JC September 30, 08 10:44 AM
  1. So we'll go on the road and beat arguably the two best teams in baseball in LA and Tampa and then lose to the Dodgers in the WS despite home field advantage?


    Posted by Bill September 30, 08 10:55 AM
  1. Are you seriously calling the Dodgers Torre's best team since 2001? They won 86 games in a horrible division and in an inferior league. Any of the Yankees teams from 2002-2007 was better than this team. If you want to argue that they have momentum and are dangerous, that's fine, but ridiculous statements like that hurt your argument.

    EW: Should have said "chance." Edit made.

    Posted by Tom September 30, 08 11:24 AM
  1. Yikes!

    Posted by Rupert September 30, 08 11:34 AM
  1. It's a lock. Now either neither team will make it, or the Sox sweep LA.

    Posted by Amy September 30, 08 11:52 AM
  1. Someone's performance in one playoff series the year before is not an indication of whether or not his new team can make the World Series.

    Posted by J-Bone September 30, 08 12:32 PM
  1. isn't this year's sox team kind of similar to last year's Angels team? talented, but with injuries to key players? unfortunately, I think Angels in 4

    Posted by dw September 30, 08 01:10 PM
  1. Sox Cubs, Sox Dodgers..... It's all the same SOX WIN AGAIN!!!!!

    Posted by HollywoodHAV September 30, 08 01:18 PM
  1. The beauty of fiction writing is you can write anything you want....

    Posted by John Harrington September 30, 08 01:31 PM
  1. I really think the Globe needs to take a harder look at the effectiveness of their drug-testing policy.

    Posted by StartedIn67 September 30, 08 01:43 PM
  1. Given the studpidness of this foolish inane column, only one thing is clear: You should be writing for ESPN.

    Posted by Monty September 30, 08 01:50 PM
  1. I'll eat my hat.

    Posted by Tom Leach September 30, 08 01:52 PM
  1. Love getting a reaction don't you? A shrink can provide the same outlet.

    Posted by BTM September 30, 08 01:52 PM
  1. The Dodgers are going to come in and win the Series in Boston? Interesting..I have some ketchup Popsicles to sell you if you've got white gloves.

    No way do the Dodgers beat the Sox in the WS. No way do the Dodgers even MAKE it there. Nice try...what a perfect way to waste seven minutes.

    Posted by Moo September 30, 08 02:08 PM
  1. i want sox dodgers so i can see the sox in the alds (tickets for friday!!) and the world series!! I have seen more sox games since moving to LA 3 years ago that I did in my previous 32 years growing up and working in Boston. while that is an exaggeraton, it certainly is an exciting time to be a sox fan living in LA!!

    Posted by Will September 30, 08 02:09 PM
  1. Come on - the Dodgers with "no-hit" Nomar will fail - he was the problem with the Red Sox in 2004 until he was going-going-gone. Now we have two World Series.

    Posted by Tom Miller September 30, 08 02:15 PM
  1. I'd hate to think that Karma or the Universe would reward Manny for being Manny and giving up on his teammates let alone the fans...the man made 160 million dollars here and he alone is to blame for this all.. Or the Sox and their pitching staff allowing that kind of embarrassment for that matter.

    Posted by SoxFanNPhilly September 30, 08 02:23 PM
  1. foolish.

    Posted by Joe M September 30, 08 02:33 PM
  1. why does the globe and and it's writers get pleasure from sticking it to the fans?

    Posted by carl September 30, 08 02:37 PM
  1. "Although of the six one-game playoff games since 1978, only two have gone on to the World Series, and only one has won it (New York). So, taking that into account, weíre talking one of Tampa, Boston, or Los Angeles."

    So, what you're saying is that a 1/3 and 1/6 chance - both better than a straight average - says that Chicago and the Twinkies have zero chance?
    Taking that into account, I'd say that Wilbur is admitting this entry is his worst yet. Come on, you're better than that.

    Posted by Greg September 30, 08 02:41 PM
  1. I don't disagree with the Sox losing, but the Dodgers going all the way? Really? So you're saying the 2003 Red Sox West are going to win it all? The other teams will walk Manny every time, thus negating any "hot" bat L.A. has. End of Torre's dreams right there.

    Posted by Classless September 30, 08 02:48 PM
  1. I love it. This is a riot. Wilbur is taking his life in his own hands. This man will be hung in Boston if what he says here comes true. Well no need to worry Red Sox fans. After all you have Jason Bay, a proven postseason winner! I am still laughing. Being a Red Sox fan, if not as obsessive as I used to be after having a sick taste in my mouth since the events at the trade deadline, I can so see the humor of this prediction.

    Posted by elccpa24 September 30, 08 03:08 PM
  1. I think it could very well be a Boston v LA final, however I don't agree with the outcome, the Dodgers don't have the Red Sox depth, and anyway, this incarnation of the Boston Red Sox don't do losses in the World Series.

    Red Sox 4-1 over Dodgers, Tito Francona confirmed as one of the all time great October managers.

    Posted by Cormac September 30, 08 03:17 PM
  1. Lifelong Sox fan... Currently living in Pasadena ( 8 miles from Dodger Stadium)... When's the last time you watched an NL West game? Its a miracle the Dodgers are even in the playoffs. Put them anywhere outside the hapless West and Boras is already trying to steal 100 million for Manny right now...

    Posted by David September 30, 08 03:21 PM
  1. Manny has an OBP of 1.000. Every pitch smack in the left ear flap.

    Posted by Mike September 30, 08 04:02 PM
  1. Wilbur...Wilbur, where have I heard that name before....Ah yes, he was the idiot that had the talking horse, Mr. Ed I believe. Must be related but this Wilbur must be getting his info from the back end of the horse.

    Posted by Why_Wilbur_Why September 30, 08 04:11 PM
  1. World Series Game 1, Manny's first at-bat, Beckett goes noggin high and tight on the first pitch. Manny has flashbacks of Krazy Kyle Farnsworth and gets one hit in the series.
    There goes LA only bat and with it the Series.
    Please tell me I'm not the only one who noticed that whenever Manny saw a pitch up around his ear he would go on a 2- to 3-week slump.

    Posted by Chris in Illinois September 30, 08 04:12 PM
  1. If Manny makes it to the World Series, I'd walk him every time. Treat him like Barry Bonds, let him go .000. I'd even walk him with the bases loaded. Don't let him beat you, and gloat about it.

    Posted by Mark September 30, 08 04:12 PM
  1. After what the Cardinals did in 2006, any scenario is possible. The only quibble I have is the final outcome. I envision Game 7 at Fenway, top of the ninth, Sox leading, 4-2 or 3-1, Manny at the plate with two outs and two on, Papelbon closing. Should Pap walk him and take his chances with the bases loaded, or go after him with the splitter?

    Posted by David Corriveau September 30, 08 04:16 PM
  1. If the Sox walk Manny in the WS then the Dodgers have no offense. Wonder why National League teams did not figure that out.

    Posted by Jim Hodges September 30, 08 04:48 PM
  1. David - what splitter?

    Posted by mnpunk23 September 30, 08 04:57 PM
  1. You still talking to your horse, WILBUR?

    Wonder which end?

    Posted by Stephen September 30, 08 05:00 PM
  1. Who is this writing rectum, Wilbur.
    The Dodgers don't have the pitching or the lineup to win it all.
    They've had their way in AAA, and Manny's had a ball hitting lousy pitching.
    Sox even with the injuries, are too deep. to lose to the Dodgers.
    Guaranteed, the AL playoffs will be the toughest road to hoe.
    As for the idiot knocking Jason Bay, the guy has done everything asked of him since August 1st. He's a fine player, and his teammates and manager love him.
    Nuff said.

    Posted by Roger C September 30, 08 06:12 PM
  1. i hope manny comes back and sticks it to john henry and epstein, they will regret trading away one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball for the rest of time.

    Posted by dave September 30, 08 06:19 PM
  1. I honestly think Eric is just playing here. The Red Sox beat the Angels and Rays, then lose to the Dodgers? The Red Sox, Angels and Rays are all vastly better teams than the Dodgers.

    Nice numbers by D-Lowe, though. Wouldn't mind getting him back.

    Posted by Bob McNeil September 30, 08 09:00 PM
  1. You're insane!

    Posted by Sarah September 30, 08 09:19 PM
  1. Nah, you can't get to me that easily.

    Posted by Anne September 30, 08 10:16 PM
  1. Dodge this, bozo.

    Posted by Bob LeBlanc October 1, 08 05:02 AM
  1. What a bunch of crap.

    Posted by RozGrl October 1, 08 09:35 AM
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