The postseason path has definitely been an interesting one this year. We’ve seen major upsets, rain delays, squirrels stealing home, walk-off heroes, and precision pitching. Also, three out of four of the division series went the distance, two of them resulting in the early dismissal of the AL and NL champs. And if the road is paved with good intentions, then all four of the remaining teams have the “hustle and heart” to be standing there when the dust settles.
The Texas Rangers
Of the remaining four, I would say they are the team to beat. They quelled the red-hot Rays in four games, and were the only team to win their series without going the distance. They are also currently up on Detroit 2-1 in the ALCS, and don’t seem to be afraid of the Tigers ace, Verlander. Their starting rotation and bullpen have both been consistent (except for the first game against the Rays), and Feliz hasn’t had a problem closing the door. The Rangers have also swung the bats well putting up 26 runs on 44 hits in their last five games. Four of those hits were of significant importance. In Game 4 of the ALDS against Tampa, Adrian Beltre belted three homers, which makes him only the sixth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a single postseason game. And then in game 2 of the ALCS against Detroit, Nelson Cruz hit two long balls, the second being a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 11th inning. It was the first walk-off grand slam in MLB postseason history, as well as the first walk-off win in Rangers postseason history.
The Detroit Tigers
After a grueling five game series with the Yankees, Detroit finds themselves down 2 games to 1 to Texas in the ALCS. The Tigers were actually outscored by New York 28-17 over the five games, but were able to come away with the win. Knocking off the number one seed is always a big feat, especially when it is the New York Yankees. And what makes it even more impressive is New York was a 7-2 favorite to win the World Series. The Tigers haven’t been very good offensively though, with only 27 runs in 8 games. That must improve if they expect to have any chance of another upset. Their D has been solid, and so has “Papa Grande”, but it’s not gonna be enough without any run support. Plus, Verlander must win. He’s been good, but he has to be lights out.
The Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee has been inconsistently good so far. What I mean by that is, when they win, they look great. But when they lose they look terrible! Luckily they have been the former more than the latter so far, but I never know which side of them I’m gonna see when they step on the field. In the NLDS series against the Diamondbacks they won the first 2 games handily, but then dropped the next two giving up a combined 18 runs. The fifth game they squeezed out with some tenth inning heroics by Morgan, and went on to the NLCS to face St. Louis. They beat the Cards fairly easily in game one, but once again got shellacked the very next night, this time surrendering 12 runs. Thats 30 runs against in three losses! The good thing is their working the sticks well. Braun has been red-hot, and Fielder is doing what he does best. If they can just keep their defense consistent, they will have a shot, but that’s gonna be tough to do against the Cards.
The St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter’s “Cardiac Cards” – This Cinderella story is as real as it gets, and by my count, it’s far from midnight. The Cards have gone from getting into the postseason by the skin of their teeth, to knocking off the juggernaut Phillies. The Phillies were hugely favoured to win the World Series getting 3-1 odds in Vegas. And yes, I picked them too… But I give all the credit in the world to the Cards who have played with a sense of urgency for the last month and a half that no team has been able to match. They just find a way to grind out games. And then there’s Chris Carpenter, who is more of a surgeon then a “carpenter” these days. After a shaky game 2, and on short rest, Carpenter hits the mound for a do-or-die game 5. His opponent, Roy Halladay. Doc has a masterful performance, pitching an 8 inning, 1 run game. Not good enough. Carpenter out-pitches Doc, going 9 scoreless innings, earning the shutout and a birth to the NLCS. The Cards are currently locked at 1′s in the NLCS, but guess who is back on the mound for game three…
Texas vs. St. Louis
This is the matchup I think is most likely of the four. I think Texas is too good, and the Cards want it too badly. This is a good matchup because; Texas would have their second chance (and second consecutive) to win their first World Series as a franchise. And St. Louis would have a chance to complete the Cinderella story.
Texas vs. Milwaukee
This matchup would pit the top two remaining seeds against each other. This is a good matchup because; Neither of these teams have ever won the World Series. And they have both only made it to the final once. Texas has been in the League since 1961, and Milwaukee since 1969.
Detroit vs. St. Louis
This is the matchup I would like to see the most. This is a good matchup because; Both of these teams are two of the oldest most storied franchises in the league. Detroit was established in the league in 1894, and St. Louis in 1882. It would also be a rematch from the 2006 World Series in which St. Louis won 4-1.
Detroit vs. Milwaukee
In my opinion this is the least likely, and most uninteresting of the four possibilities. However, this is a good matchup because; Detroit hasn’t won since 1984, and Milwaukee never has.