Baseball playoff preview pt. II
By Anthony Lafratta
(AL Central champ)
vs. New York Yankees
(AL East champ)
The Twins would probably prefer a date with just about anyone
but the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers owned the Twins this season,
outscoring them 49-13 in a sweep of the seven game season series.
In fact, the Twins put up the worst numbers - a .203 batting
average, 1.86 runs per game, 7.05 earned run average and zero
wins - of any American League team versus the Yankees this
year (OK, so the Royals ERA was 7.06).
So, what do the playoffs hold for last year's near-Cinderella
team, the Twins? Don't get too excited, but the answer is not
The Yankees have something to play for this year besides a
fifth title in the last eight seasons. Always reliable rumours
suggest Yankee skipper Joe Torre is on the chopping block if
he fails to bring home a ring. The drought has simply gone
on too long - the Yanks haven't claimed baseball's crown since
- gasp - 2000.
After a late season surge, it would appear the Twins might
be poised to upset the Yanks. Then again, bear in mind the
Twins playoff push was made possible, in part, by favourable
scheduling. Although the Twins went 37-18 in the final two
months of the season, 41 of those 55 games were played against
ball clubs with losing records, including 13 against the exceptionally
horrible Tigers and not a single game against any of the other
three AL playoff teams. With that in mind, it's unlikely there
will be any repeat of a Cinderella story for the Twins in 2003.
Boston Red Sox
(AL Wild Card)
vs. Oakland Athletics
(AL West champ)
This series will seek to answer the question that has plagued
baseball thinkers for decades: does good pitching really beat
In this epic battle, the Red Sox come into the playoffs sporting
the best offensive numbers in all of baseball, while Oakland
continues to boast the top pitching in the AL.
Starting pitchers Tim Hudson and Barry Zito provide the A's
with a formidable one-two punch, but a glaring hole has been
left by a season ending injury to ace Mark Mulder. The A's
will give the nod to Ted Lilly over rookie Rich Harden to fill
the number three spot in the rotation, after the southpaw finished
the season by winning six of his final seven starts.
That being said, baseball games are won by putting runs on
the board. The BoSox need no reminder - they knocked around
Harden, Lilly, Mulder and Zito to the tune of an 8.54 ERA in
six starts this season before Hudson tamed Boston's potent
attack in their final meeting.
On the other side of the coin, Oakland's offense has been
dismal, ranking near the bottom of the AL in production. Although
Boston's pitching has been sketchy, in a five game series the
Red Sox can run Pedro Martinez to the hill twice. Martinez
has been brilliant in playoffs past, posting a 3-0 record and
a sparkling 1.13 ERA. In this series, it appears the powerful
offense of the Red Sox tilts the scales in their favour.