Red Sox still hoping for miracle

Oct 19, 2004 5:43 AM


Boston’s ninth inning rally against Mariano Rivera and David Ortiz’ twelfth inning game winning home run has enabled the Red Sox to avoid being swept by the Yankees. And the National League pennant is up for grabs between Houston and St. Louis.

Nevertheless, here’s our take on what we might see in each of the four potential World Series match-ups.

My first preference in any Series match-up would be the OVER in totals of 10 runs or less. We are likely to see a high scoring World Series regardless of which teams are matched up. The few exceptions are if Houston’s Roy Oswalt or Roger Clemens, Boston’s Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez, or the Yankees’ Mike Mussina are involved in head-to-head contests. Otherwise, OVER 10 is preferred.

Any team is capable of winning any game, thus the UNDERDOG will preferred in any game in which the price is at least +120. The exception would be a play in game three on a team if it is down 2-0 and favored by no more than -130.

By winning the All Star game this past July, the American League will host the first two games and would host the last two games of a seven game series. The World Series is played in a 2-3-2 format.

The most likely match-up is the Yankees facing the Cardinals. Both teams have plenty of offense, with the Yanks having the best starter, Mike Mussina, on either staff.

The Yankees also rate the edge at closer with Mariano Rivera versus Jason Isringhausen. But the Cardinals rate the edge in middle relief and with two solid offenses, that aspect of the game takes on even greater importance than usual.

The forecast is for the Yankees to win the series in six or seven games with their edge in starting pitching, closer and experience offsetting any edge the Cards may have on offense, which is slight at best.

Should Houston win the National League Championship Series, the headline will be the return of Astros’ ace Roger Clemens to either Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park to pitch in the World Series. Clemens has already shown this postseason that he still is near or at the top of his game with solid efforts in two games against Atlanta and once against St Louis. The combination of Clemens and Roy Oswalt is at least the equal of Boston’s Curt Schilling (if healthy) and Pedro Martinez and would be considered better than the Yankees’ Mike Mussina and either Jon Lieber or Kevin Brown (when not healthy as he currently appears to be).

Houston has plenty of power in their lineup, but the Astros have a better chance of defeating Boston than they do of beating the Yankees. Nevertheless, the selection here is for the Yankees to defeat Houston in five games and for Boston to defeat the Astros in six games.

A match-up of Boston against St. Louis, while improbable because of Boston’s current 3-1 deficit to the Yankees, is compelling. Boston has the two aces in Schilling and Martinez who are clearly better than any starter the Cardinals could put on the mound. St. Louis has the edge in middle relief and that could be as big a factor in this series as in any of the four possible match-ups.

St. Louis also has the edge in overall lineup balance especially in power as the trio of Jim Edmunds, Scott Rolen and Albert Puljols (with support from Larry Walker) rate the edge over the power duo of Boston’s Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. This series would have the greatest likelihood of going seven games and what a spectacle it would be for Fenway Park to host a World Series Game 7. Unlikely? Yes. But should it occur the pick would be Boston to finally put an end to the curse that has existed since 1918.