Division Series Recap and ALCS Overview

Last week was a fantastic week of baseball, culminating with 3 game fives in the Divisional Series between the Tigers and Yankees, the Diamondbacks and Brewers and the Cardinals and Phillies.  No matter how exciting the Divisional Series were, I still highly dislike best-of-five series because they’re just too short in my opinion (as a fan of an eliminated team).  Last week, I attempted to predict the four series, and before I go into my Championship Series picks, I’ll recap the NLDS and ALDS series. 

Tampa Bay Rays 1 – 3 Texas Rangers (My pick: Rays in 4)- Lessons learned: if you let Adrian Beltre hit 3 home runs in a game, that’s not a good thing.  The Rays started off this series pretty well, with Matt Moore winning his first postseason start  spinning 2 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts in seven innings of work helping the Rays along to a 9-0 win that would be their only win of the series.  After that, the Rangers basically took complete control of the series and even Desmond Jennings hitting two home runs in game four couldn’t stop them.  One note from this series is that the Rays are now 0-3 at home in their last two playoff appearances, I blame poor fan support.

Detroit Tigers 3 – 2 New York Yankees (My pick: Tigers in 5)- Like I said last week, the difference maker in this series was going to be the bullpens, specifically Detroit’s.  The Tigers’ bullpen proved to be Grade A tight rope walkers squeezing their way out of multiple jams in this series.  Joaquin Benoit’s bases loaded escape act in game five, followed by Jose Valverde’s 51st consecutive save achieved by striking out Alex Rodriguez is a prime example of what went right for the Detroit Tigers.  And Alex Rodriguez is a prime example of what went terribly wrong for the Yankees as he produced a dismal .111 batting average and 3 RBI over the series.  Along with A-Rod’s batting woes, it didn’t hurt that Justin Verlander gave an 11 strikeout performance in game 3 of the series.

St. Louis Cardinals 3 – 2 Philadelphia Phillies (My pick: Phillies in 4)- Ryan Howard’s stat line from the NLDS: 2-19, .105 average, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K, .143 OBP.  And to only make matters worse, in his final at-bat (which also was the final out of the series) he ruptured his achilles and will be out until mid-May or June of next season.  Philadelphia sorely missed his offensive output throughout this series, and that is one of the reasons they lost this series.  I do have to give credit where credit is due, and that goes to Chris Carpenter and his clutch shutout that he threw in game five.  The Cardinals are in a good position going forward.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2 – 3 Milwaukee Brewers (My pick: Brewers in 4)- I expected this series to be a slugfest, but I didn’t expect this much slugging.  The Brewers were out hit (48-42), outscored (25-23), and out homered (10-4), and they still won this series.  There was at least one homer hit by each team in this series except for game five where Justin Upton was the only player to go deep.  The home team won each game of this series and that was highlighted by the D-Backs hitting grand slams in consecutive games (3,4) on consecutive nights outscoring the Brew Crew 18-7 in the two games in Arizona.  Game five was an exciting game to watch, ending with Nyjer Morgan, AKA Tony Plush driving in Carlos Gomez from second on a single up the middle in the bottom of the 10th to make their first Championship Series appearance since 1982.  That hit was followed by a decidedly “Not for TV” moment in an attempt to interview Nyjer Morgan.

So now, we begin the battle for the pennant with the Detroit Tigers/Texas Rangers series beginning tonight in Arlington, Texas.  The key to winning this series is going to be pitching.  Both of these teams can hit for days, it’s going to be up to the pitching staffs to make sure the other team doesn’t do that.  As a fan, I want the Tigers to win this series, but as an analyst, I see the Rangers going to the World Series with a 4-2 series victory.


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