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Red Sox-Angels prediction roundup

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff October 1, 2008 10:18 AM

Where's the love?

There hasn't been a repeat World Series champion since the Yankees in 2000, and hardball prognosticators across the country don't think there will be another one until at least 2009.

Citing Boston's injuries, regular season head-to-head record (8-1, Los Angeles), home-field advantage, and a general aura of baseball well-being hovering over the City of Angels -- just below smog level, but above the cloud of Sean Penn's self-importance -- the Angels are being tabbed as heavy favorites going into the ALDS against the defending World Series champion Red Sox, wild-card entrants into the postseason for the fourth time in six seasons.

Indeed, the prognosis does seem bleak from a Boston perspective. Mike Lowell is battered. Josh Beckett is a question mark. J.D. Drew's back is still giving out. "Frank TV" is returning.

Jason Bay, Jed Lowrie, and Justin Masterson are playing in their first postseasons, which is an unpredictable X-factor for sure. You can react like Mo Vaughn in 1995, or you can burst onto the scene like Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007. This Angels team is very different than the one the Red Sox swept in the 2007 ALDS, having added Mark Teixeira and Torii Hunter since last October.

These Red Sox are sans Manny Ramirez, who has lit up Chavez Ravine just 30 miles north of where the Red Sox and Angels will kick things off tonight. And they might be without an effective Beckett. And Lowell.

But they've also won nine straight postseason games over this franchise, and have 16-game winning lefty Jon Lester on the hill tonight in Game 1 against John Lackey. The Angels righthander finally enjoyed some level of success against Boston this season, but is still 3-6 with a 5.54 ERA in his career against the Red Sox.

It is a love-fest in LA, where they're hoping for the first Southern California series, a similar dream to the one they're having in Chicago. In Boston, though, the now-familiar boasts that come with success have been quieted some, a fan base glowing in the shadow of a World Series title that could very well be headed somewhere else this time around if the Angels have anything to say about it.

Who they're picking

Our roundup of pundit predictions for the Red Sox-Angels ALDS.
  • Boston Globe: Dan Shaughnessy and Adam Kilgore pick the Angels in five, while Bob Ryan, Nick Cafardo, and Tony Massarotti pick the Angels in four. Amalie Benjamin picks the Red Sox to win in five.
  • Tim Kurkijan, ESPN: Angels in five. "Now this is a hard one. The Angels beat the Red Sox eight times in nine games this season, outscoring them 61-33. And yet, the Red Sox swept the Angels out of the playoffs in 2004 and 2007, winning six straight games by a combined score of 44-16. Maybe none of this means anything, maybe it was too long ago, maybe so much has changed since the two teams last played in late July. Still, it makes a fascinating series even harder to pick."
  • Ken Rosenthal, FOXsports.com: Angels in five. "The Red Sox are the Red Sox even without Manny Ramirez, but the Angels possess home-field advantage and are 8-1 against the Sox this season. If Beckett isn't Beckett, the Angels' chances will be that much better."
  • CBS Sports staff: Danny Knobler, Eric Mack, Scott Miller, and Adriane Rosen all pick the Angels in 5.
  • Jose Mota, Yahoo! sports: Angels. "Recent failures in October should have Angels ready to continue their run. Red Sox will miss Manny Ramirez, period."
  • Yahoo! sports staff: Tim Brown predicts an Angels sweep, Jeff Passan picks Angels in four, and Gordon Edes likes the Angels in five. Steve Henson is the lone staff member going with the Red Sox, picking Boston to win in five.
  • Bill Plunkett, Orange County Register: Angels in five. "The Angels lost to the Red Sox in the 2004 and 2007 playoffs for a simple reason and it had little to do with homefield advantage - the Red Sox were the better team each time. The roles are reversed this year, particularly when the health issues of each team are taken into account. It's a thin margin, though, and the homefield advantage could prove to be the difference."
  • John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle: Angels. "The Red Sox aren't all about small ball. They still have plenty of big-time players, but health is a serious concern. Right-hander Josh Beckett (oblique), third baseman Mike Lowell (hip) and outfielder J.D. Drew (back) are hurting, and they'll be facing a well-rested roster in the only first-round series matching teams that appeared in the 2007 postseason."
  • Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News: Angels in four. "Boston's offensive edge was not evident during the season series when the Angels won eight of nine games by a combined score of 61-33. The Angels scored at least six runs in seven of the nine games - and all but three were played before Mark Teixeira landed in Orange County. Los Angeles was 48-9 when scoring at least six runs. Unless the Red Sox get to the Angels' rested starting pitchers quickly, there won't be a repeat World Series champ."
  • Harold Reynolds, TBS: Angels.
  • Mike Phillips, Miami Herald: Angels in five. "The Angels play like a NL team (129 stolen bases, 50 sacrifice flies) and have enough pitching to stop an ailing Red Sox team."
  • Ryan Fagan, The Sporting News: Red Sox in five. "Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez set the single-season record for saves (62) this season, but Boston's Jonathan Papelbon has yet to allow a run in 14 2/3 career postseason innings. The Red Sox have the best trio of starters in baseball in righthander Josh Beckett, lefthander Jon Lester and righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka. Beckett and Lester have both started and won World Series-clinching games, and Matsuzaka's uncanny ability to wriggle out of jams helped him fashion an 18-3 record this season."
  • Vegas Insider: Angels in four. "A short five-game series favors Boston, a team currently hampered by some key injury issues. Plus, the Red Sox are the defending champions loaded with veteran talent. However, Los Angeles is the better team this season that appears to have Boston's number. The Angels finished the regular season with the best record in baseball, and have the best reliever in the game to close out games. Los Angeles finally reverses its postseason losses to Boston and advances to the next round."
  • Our pick: Red Sox in four. If Beckett isn't Beckett, then all bets are off. Still, Lester and Matsuzaka are a year better, and if they can go deep into each of their starts, Angels batters are hitting .267 against Hideki Okajima and .188 against Justin Masterson (his 9 2/3 innings vs. Los Angeles are the most on the Sox staff outside of Beckett) this season, bridging the gap smoothly to Papelbon. If the Angels get into the Boston bullpen any earlier (Manny Delcarmen, 10.13 ERA vs. Los Angeles this season, Javier Lopez, 13.50) things could get out of hand in a hurry, with Boston's offensive injury concerns a looming problem trying to play catch-up.

    Odds are Lester does that tonight. Matsuzaka on Friday is another story. But with Beckett on Sunday and Lester a probability again Monday, the Sox can assure themselves an extra day of rest before hopping a familiar flight to Tampa, at an unfamiliar time of year.

34 comments so far...
  1. Vintage line about Sean Penn! I'm hopeful that the experts are wrong but if you look at the last three years, the teams who have been the best all season long, despite struggling down the stretch, have put it together and won the pennant (White Sox, Tigers, and Red Sox). Let's hope that trend won't continue. Series depends heavily on Lester and Dice K. Would rather have Beckett going in Game 1 but the other guys are capable of doing it. Additionally, John Henry could also retire 2-time All-Star and all around great citizen Rich Gedman's #10 before Game 3 to inspire the fans.

    Posted by internet_king October 1, 08 11:02 AM
  1. I simply CANNOT fathom ALL those LA picks....
    c'mon all those Boston media jerks picking LA....
    maybe Manram was onto something.... ;)
    ya THINK?!?!

    Posted by nhsoxlovah October 1, 08 11:20 AM
  1. The Angels are tough, no question. However, Lester will win game 1 and game 4, leaving the Sox only having to win 1 other game. My guess? Paul Byrd starts and wins game 3.

    Posted by Ben October 1, 08 11:55 AM
  1. I agree with your pick of the Sox in four games. I think the starting pitching favors us strongly, and am buoyed by the way this Sox team played the entire second half. I believe they won the second most of all teams since the AS break, and this was by playing excellent fundamental baseball. I think based on this season's performance we have a definite edge with Lester and Dice K in Anaheim, a superior closer, excellent base running (Angels love running into outs), and I give Terry Francona the edge in the managerial department.

    Posted by Capt Stu October 1, 08 12:01 PM
  1. What is Mike Phillips of the Miami Herald talking about? First he says the Angels play like an NL team. Since when is it an advantage to play like a team from an inferior league? Then he lays out his case for that assertion, i.e. the Angels had 129 stolen bases and 50 sac flies. We are left to assume that the plodding old Red Sox have numbers nowhere close to these. But 2 seconds on Google showed that the Red Sox have 120 stolen bases and 62 sac flies. Clearly, Mike Phillips is going on team reputation (from the 90s? 80s?) as opposed to wasting precious seconds looking up actual facts.

    Posted by Mark October 1, 08 12:04 PM
  1. Dan Shaughnessy, Adam Kilgore, Bob Ryan, Nick Cafardo, and Tony Massarotti, you guys are pathetic!!!! I know you guys are the "sports experts" but you are about to look like a bunch of boobs!!!!! Do you remember Lester last year in the playoffs????? He was LIGHTS out! Expect the same! Sox in 4! If the sox win in 4 like I predict, can I get a job at the Globe too? Let me guess, did you pick the Osama Bin Laden to win the war? Maybe Saddam Hussein to escape the death penalty? Let's go REDSOX! Don't worry about the media, your true fans know you are going to win!

    Posted by Steven Richard from Waltham October 1, 08 12:04 PM
  1. I don't put a lot of faith in either our record vs the Angels in the playoffs since 86 or theri record against us this year. I feel that the Sox match up very well.

    I also don't think the Angels record this year means much. Eight teams (Tribe snuck in at end) ended up over .500 in the AL and 4 play in the AL East. Angels played in 46 games against east opponents while Sox played 76. While they were beating up on West- we were playing tough games against tough opponents.
    Game one win puts all pressure on Angels with Beckett in 3. Tonight is KEY.

    Ga

    Posted by Scott October 1, 08 12:11 PM
  1. Shaughnessy and Massarotti, picking against the Sox??? Really??? Gee, didn't see that one coing.

    Posted by Dogg October 1, 08 12:15 PM
  1. Predictions in the MLB playoffs are kind of silly, but quibbling with them is even sillier. Anyone remember the Cardinals of a couple years ago or the Marlins of 2003? Or even the Angels in 2002. It's about who gets hot at the right time and it's near impossible to predict. That's what makes it exciting.

    Posted by J-Bone October 1, 08 12:22 PM
  1. Sox will Sweep! Bye, Bye Angels! The mighty Angels won 100, just 5 more than the defending World Champs. Ya Gotta Believe. Go Sox! To be a winner you have to know how to win when it counts!

    Posted by Bill Murphy October 1, 08 12:25 PM
  1. The Red Sox are a different team than last year, as are the Angels. The Angels are just a better team so Boston has to have a new hero step up, and EARLY in the series.
    Keep your fingers crossed but keep the golf clubs nearby.

    Posted by Bob Fredette October 1, 08 12:29 PM
  1. Lester is the ONE to be on the mound tonight. I have as much faith in him as anyone in the rotation. If he does what he should(can), Scott is right the pressure will be on the Angels. Playing in the west is hard to figure in the playoffs.

    Posted by Gidget October 1, 08 12:44 PM
  1. I can't blame people for picking the Angels, as they're clearly a better team this year and owned the Sox in the regular series. However, I like our pitching matchups, especially in Game #1. If the Sox can take one of the first two games, they're winning the series.

    Posted by Jim October 1, 08 12:53 PM
  1. The Angels beating the Red Sox 8-1 in regular season should not have much of a bearing. It all comes down to starting pitching and the Sox are better in this department. What's with almost all Sox Globe writers picking the enemy? Does Bob Ryan remember his prediction about the Celtics before the start of last season? He said Celts had the worst bench in entire NBA and that they would be lucky to win the first round of playoffs.

    Posted by Nithi Sivaneri October 1, 08 12:58 PM
  1. Let's go Red Sox! Do not put the fork in us just yet. Remember game 4 in Cleveland when we came back to life. Keep your brooms in your closet. Whether they win or lose, I have been blessed to see two world series. I am thrilled they will be going at it again. Would I like a back to back - heck yeah! We come through in the post season and that is what everyone needs to remember. We can taste it. Our rookies have played incredible ball this year. Believe in Boston!
    Red Sox Nation alive and well in Central Ohio. I will be awake tonight to see us pull through game 1.

    Posted by Jackie Smith October 1, 08 01:37 PM
  1. My prediction:

    Game 1 Sox
    Game 2 Angels
    Game 3 Angels
    Game 4 Sox
    Game 5 Sox

    I believe games 2 and 5 could go either way. Ervin Santana is the Angels best pitcher in spite of him starting second. He has uncannily similar numbers to Lester. I'm banking on Dice K's luck to take 1 of his 2 starts.

    Posted by Slee_Stack October 1, 08 01:47 PM
  1. What a bunch of knuckleheads. I want the Sox to win too, but are you really upset that the staff of a newspaper are being objective and choosing the better, healthier ballclub?

    Also, what kind of bozo Boston fan spells words to phonetically imply a Boston accent? We are all aware of where we hail from, we don't have to sound like morons to boot. Leave that egregious crap to the sports staff at the NY Post.

    Posted by Will October 1, 08 02:00 PM
  1. Red Sox in three-
    Game 1- Lester is dominant
    Game 2- Dice k isnt the best but look at his win loss..18-2..he wins games
    Game 3- Beckett or Byrd Sox wont loose at fenway

    Posted by jake October 1, 08 02:11 PM
  1. Hey Will,

    Why are they better? Explain that to me?

    Posted by A Bostonian living in Cali October 1, 08 02:15 PM
  1. Red Sox NATION is well represented here in Arizona. I will be ready come 705pm and going to enjoy another Red Sox playoff win over the Angels. Keep the Faith and the Dirty Water flowing. Sox in 4.

    Posted by Bostonian in the Desert October 1, 08 02:33 PM
  1. Out of the 8 losses to the Angels this year, 2 were by Bucholz, 1 by Hansen, 1 by Delcarmen, 1 by Dice-k, 1 by Wakefield, and 2 by Beckett.

    I attended 2 out of 3 games in Anahiem, back in July. Both Beckett and Wake went deep in their starts. I think Beckett had a ridiculous 58 or 60 pitches into the 7th inning. Tito just left him in too long. Wake was also cruising, after giving up back to back HR's in the 2nd inning of his game. Again Tito let him pitch the 8th with game tied 2-2.
    Lester's only start was on 3 days rest, back in April. If Beckett can get trought this olique strain. I like our chances. The pressure is all on Anahiem.
    I'll be there Friday routing for Dice-k !!!

    Posted by sox fan west October 1, 08 02:39 PM
  1. Who? The NY Post? They're not better...than anyone. But they do do that constantly - and not to be flattering to those of us living in the Hub. I can't for the life of me understand why anyone who would write like that deliberatley. It's ignorant and ostentatious. It's fine to have an accent, (or at least I hope it is), but adding "H"s and a touch of patois to a post in which you complain about lack of home team rah rah attitide from the local sports scribes doesn't help drive the point home of what a superfan you are.

    Posted by Will October 1, 08 02:52 PM
  1. Oh you meant why are the Angels better - right? I guess, if they are, it's because they are healthy, have a scary 3-4-5 and competant pitching front to back. But to be honest, I think the Sox will probably win. I just think its kind of dumb when people expect professional writers to put objectivity aside and choose the home team. I'm sure Shank wants the Sox to win (well maybe not Shank) - he just doesn't think they will. Love them or hate them, no one would read them if they penned hard-hitting headlines like "Youk is Wicked Good." That was really my point.

    Posted by Will October 1, 08 02:58 PM
  1. Will, get a life.

    Posted by Mike, Boston, MA October 1, 08 03:29 PM
  1. I'm OK with people objectively picking the Angels, if they make sense. I keep hearing that the Angels have the edge in starting pitching, when Lester, Dice-K, and Beckett combined have had better seasons than Santana, Lackey and Saunders. Lackey has struggled big time down the stretch, which I suppose offsets Beckett's oblique, except that instead of facing Beckett, he twice has to face the Sox' best pitcher this year in Lester. On top of that, until this year Santana was a pretty big headcase, unable to do ANYTHING on the road. I realize he will only pitch at home in this series, but something tells me he's going to be a bit mentally fragile, when we know for certain that won't be the case for Lester, Beckett, or Dice-K.

    Also, I keep hearing about how the Angels were 8-1 against Boston this year. Fair enough, but a closer look shows it wasn't that bad. Mostly close games against our Top 3 starters, Lester pitching on three days rest, the Angels sweeping us in Boston while Mannypalooza was going on at the trade deadline. I'm not concerned at all about that.

    The one fair argument I've been hearing to support giving Anaheim the advantage is the injury factor - while I think that all things being equal the Red Sox would have the slight edge in this series, I think the Lowell and Beckett injuries can be the great equalizer.

    All that said, I like the Red Sox in 4 as I think Lester will win twice and we'll only need one other win. I'd be even nicer (duh) to win both in Anaheim so we don't need to use Beckett in Game 3 - I'd rather save him until a Game 5 if necessary.

    Posted by Mike October 1, 08 03:39 PM
  1. Why is no one discussing the fact that the start times for these games is ATROCIOUS!!! a 10 PM start for game 1 (which will really be more like 10:20) means the game MIGHT get over by 1 am. That's just willfully disrespectful of the fans of the Red Sox. Someone give me ONE good reason why this game could not have started at 8 PM??? Baseball and the Networks should be ashamed of themselves and the East Coast media should have the fortitude to stand up and raise HELL about this. Glad we all don't seem to mind that not only do we have to decide to be exhausted the days after these games, if we want to watch them live, but that we also have NO CHANCE of sharing these games with our Sons and Daughters. Enjoy the games Red Sox Nation (for those of you that can actually stay up to watch the whole thing).

    Posted by Liam October 1, 08 04:19 PM
  1. It comes down to the guys on the mound. I like Lester over Lackey. I'll take Dice-K over Santana, and even a 90% Beckett over Saunders. But, you have to give the Angels lineup some credit, so I think the Angels will pull one of those three out, maybe the Beckett game. So, pundits schmundits. I like the tired-old Sox in four with Big Papi taking series MVP.

    Posted by Steve Nikosey October 1, 08 04:29 PM
  1. Eric, no comments on the Phish reunion yet?

    Posted by Stephen October 1, 08 05:15 PM
  1. I think I heard the same thing a few months ago. All the media was picking the Lakers over the Celtics. They were wrong then and I believe they will be wrong again.
    Go Red Sox!

    Posted by Kevin Boissonnault October 1, 08 06:18 PM
  1. SOX in 4!! If Beckett starts game 3 and is not adversely affected by his oblique, the Sox will sweep. Not having Manny is a positive - not a negative. Manny only showed up when he felt like it. This must have been eating at everyone else on the team. Jason Bay busts his hump always and he is a defensive asset. The Sox are much better defensively this year than last year, with major up grades at left and shortstop.

    Posted by Fred October 1, 08 07:05 PM
  1. Angels played in a very weak division. The record is based on playing a bunch of games against teams with a less than 500 record. Sure the beat the sox a bunch of times, but the sox were injured. It's the post season and all changes now. Sox are great at do or die, remember trailing the Yankees 3-0. Need I say more . . . .
    By the way, the only team in the ALW with a winning record, The Angels . . . .

    Posted by Bob October 1, 08 07:19 PM
  1. boston media guys picking the angels??? gotta be kidding me...
    #17 why should staff of a local paper be objective in this case? i want them to pick the redsox and make comments like Amelie B did.

    and now lets sweep the halos so all those local media je... i mean guys will be big time laughingstock!!!

    Posted by supertouch October 2, 08 03:30 AM
  1. Wonder if Jose Marijuana from Yahoo sports will amend his pick now.

    Posted by PhishGettingBackTogether October 2, 08 09:01 AM
  1. The Angels record means nothing since they play the majority of their games in the crappy AL west where they were the only team to have a winning record. The AL west had a combined record of 315 and 332. The AL east, however had 4 teams with at least 10 more wins than losses with a combine record of 435 and 374. If the Sox were playing in the AL west and the Angels were playing in the AL east, the Sox would have the better record.

    Posted by Scott October 2, 08 04:36 PM
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