Two games into the 2008 World Series and we are tied 1-1. Where am I going with this? Game 7 in Tampa, thats where. It's a tough call as far as giving a prediction for who's winning this series but I think I will have to go with the Rays. Rays in seven again!
Here's how I view it:
James Shields has pitched well this postseason and Matt Garza's impressive ALCS performance earns them the edge here. Phillies' Cole Hamels can't pitch every game, that becomes a problem considering the rest of the rotation is questionable, but it's possible they can get the job done, I just like the stability of the Rays' staff over the course of a long series.
The Rays don't have a closer unless they plan on using David Price, which they should do. The Phillies 1-2 combo of Ryan Madsen and Brad Lidge are untouchable and have been lights out this October. That's a HUGE factor in October. This is the biggest difference between the teams.
Philly with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell can go to-to-toe with BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford. So far we haven't seen as much offense as we thought we might see but the guys listed can certainly set off some fireworks.
This is a close call but the Rays all around defense is stellar. The outfield is one of the game's best. Upton and Crawford for TB cover a lot of ground. Philly's outfield isn't bad either led by Shane Victorino but TB has the edge there. As far as the rest of the infield it's a tough call but I gotta call it even there. While Philly I think has the better doubleplay combo TB has Dioneer Navarro behind the plate and I think he's the main difference maker. He has come into his own this year and has the almighty task of directing the pitching staff, that kind of leadership is important in a series like this. A plus is he can throw out runners, that's important because if Rollins or Victorino ever get on base, they'll think twice before swiping a bag.
Rays won my breakdown 2-1-1. Hey, I told you it's close but when it comes down to the playoffs, starting pitching is the most important thing. If the Rays can take the lead early then they have a good shot at keeping it, but if Philly has a lead late in the game it'll be tough for Tampa to comeback. I hope people have been watching this series as it's been competitive so far and the trend looks to continue as the series progresses. I won't be disappointed if Philly wins because then it means they can show up to Citi Field next season with their world championship hats and t-shirts. They can taunt the Mets fans all year long and I would love to see it. If Tampa wins and not only am I right with my prediction but it completes the Cinderella story for 2008. Let's hope for a memorable World Series, that's what I'm rooting for the most.