ALCS Thoughts: Rays in Seven

That's right I predict Tampa Bay to reach the Fall Classic. It's the perfect Cinderella story. A team that has been at the bottom of the A.L. East for it's entire existence since 1998, finally got their act together and is making a serious run at a championship. The youth and talent on the Rays is endless, thus making it difficult for a veteran team like the Boston Red Sox to easily put them away.

Boston in their own right is leaning on youth to guide them through this postseason. Names like Jed Lowrie, Dustin Pedoria, John Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury are leading the way. There's no more Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz isn't a god anymore at the plate and last year's World Series heores Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell aren't contributing as expected. This also is a even matchup in my opinion. Although Boston gets a slight advantage at the end of the bullpen with flame thrower Jonathan Papelbon as opposed to the Rays and Dan Wheeler (?) as their closer. Troy Percival, the Rays main closer has been hampered by injuries and was left off the ALCS roster.

The Rays have had that magic that has led many teams into the postseason in past years. They grind out one run victories, they gut out nail bitters...in other words they find a way to win. They had Boston's number all season long and held on to first place for the last 75 days of the season. A feat that is very impressive given the competition in the A.L. East. Tampa lost a hard luck game in Game 1, a game in which they had numerous chances to score and couldn't. Game 2 saw them get to Beckett and overcome various deficits and ultimately won in 11 innings. The series now shifts to Fenway Park, a place where the Sox usually hold an advantage, especially this time of year. The Rays however have not been backed down from any challenge all season and have not been afraid of the Fenway faithful. They won 2 of 3 in their last series in early Septemeber. One of those games the Rays won a game in 14 innings.

I like the underdog story of the Rays and I hope they can eliminate Bsoton. I can't stomach another Red Sox World Series appearance. I hope Joe Maddon and his crew has what it takes to stand toe to toe with Terry Francona and his troops. It seems to me that they do. The health of Boston ace Josh Beckett is a big question going into the rest of the series. He is scheduled to pitch Game 6 if it goes that far. A year ago Beckett was lights out in all of his postseason starts. This year, his production is uncertain. That could be the leading factor into whether the Sox make it back into the Fall Classic. Even then, I still like the Rays' chances and their never say die approach.
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