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Tampa Bay heads to Boston all square

Oct 14, 2008 5:00 PM

The 3-2 Pitch by Andy Iskoe |

It looks like both of the League Championship Series are certain to go at least five games.

Barring any extended rainouts next week’s column will contain the forecast for the World Series which is set to begin next Wednesday.

In the ALCS Boston and Tampa Bay are tied at a game apiece as the series moves to Boston’s Fenway Park for Games 3-5. In the NLCS Philadelphia holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 over the Los Angeles Dodgers as the teams played Game 4 last Monday night.

In the ALCS Boston has recaptured the home field advantage by virtue of splitting the first two games in Tampa. They have the chance to end the series at home with the middle three games at home. Boston should be solid favorites in all three games and, in fact, are 2-1 favorites in game three’s matchup of Jon Lester against Matt Garza.

ALCS

Rays vs Red Sox: Game 4 is expected to feature Tampa’s Andy Sonnanstine against Boston’s Tim Wakefield, the veteran knuckleballer.

Boston is the superior team in terms of overall talent and certainly with a huge edge in experience. That will be reflected in the line, making it tough to play the host Red Sox at such large odds. Rather, Boston on the run line at minus 1½ would be the preferred way to go in the remaining games in Boston.

Should the series return to Tampa with the Rays either up or down 3-2 they would have gained confidence from having won at least one game in the unfriendly confines of Fenway.

The Rays would be worth playing in Game 6 as underdogs of +125 or higher if they are looking to wrap up the series up 3-2. If Boston is up 3-2, then the Sox would be worth playing at -120 or less to wrap up the series.

If there is a Game 7 it would be hard to bet against Boston and the best bet might be on the run line where the Sox might well be "underdogs."

NLCS

Phillies vs Dodgers: There are a pair of oddities concerning the NLCS. First, the home team has won all 11 games played in the NLDS and NLCS through Sunday night’s NLCS Game 3. Secondly, all but one of these 11 National League postseason games have been decided by two runs or more.

The Phillies would like to win at least one of the two remaining games in Los Angeles before returning home. Of course a sweep of Games 4 and 5 would send the Phils to the World Series. However, the Phils are huge underdogs to win Game 4 and will likely be the slightest of underdogs in Game 5 with Game 1 starter Cole Hamels scheduled to toe the rubber on Tuesday.

The under would be the most attractive play in Game 5 with the total likely to be no higher than 7½ and quite possibly set at 7.

Philly should be favored in both Games 6 and 7 whether they return home 3-2 in games or down by that margin.

If the Phils trail 3-2, it would mean that the streak of home team wins in the NL would have reached 13 after a Dodgers sweep in LA. That fact would be factored into the Game 6 line, representing perhaps as much as a 20-cent adjustment to what would be the line had the home team not been on such a run.

In such a scenario the Dodgers would be playable as underdogs to wrap up the series in either Game 6 or 7, taking advantage of the line value and the belief that they are the better all-around team.

If the Phillies return home up 3-2 it would mean they would have snapped the home team win streak in Game 4 or 5 in Los Angeles. In such a case it would be hard not to see the Phillies win at least one of two home games to close out the series.

Still, the Dodgers would be worth a play in Game 6 if they are underdogs of at least +130. If the Dodgers win and extend the series to a seventh game, the play would be to the under, but only at a total of 9 or higher.

It’s unlikely the total would be higher than 9. At a total of 8½ or less, the preference would be to take the Dodgers at +140 or higher.

Next week: A look at the World Series which will feature either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Philadelphia Phillies playing the Boston Red Sox or Tampa Bay Rays.