Bring on the Angels
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 11, 2005 5:25PM
Following their 5-3 victory Monday night, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim eliminated the New York Yankees and earned themselves a red eye flight to Chicago to face off against the well rested White Sox Tuesday night in the ALCS. The Sox will send Jose Contreras to the mound against The Angels' Paul Byrd.
The two teams played ten times during the regular season, with the Angels taking the season series 6-4. The teams split a 4-game series in Anaheim and the Sox then took 2 of 3 at U.S. Cellular, all in late May. The Angels returned to Chicago in September and swept the Sox.
So how do the teams stack up?
The White Sox have had one of the best and most consistent rotations all season, finishing second in the AL in team ERA. With the extended break between series, Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen was able to line up his rotation exactly to his liking, and plans to follow Contreras with Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia.
While the Angels pitching staff had the 3rd best ERA in the AL during the regular season, they might be looking for volunteers from among the crowd to pitch game 2. Likely Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon left last night's game after 1 inning due to shoulder soreness. He's also suffering from back pain. Can he pitch in this series? Jerrod Washburn has strep throat and a fever, so there are questions about his availability, too. Paul Byrd warmed up last night for possible action and John Lackey pitched on Sunday on only 3 days rest. So their staff is pretty spent.
Edge: White Sox
The White Sox have a strong bullpen that includes Orlando Hernandez. While he fell off during the regular season, he's known for being a clutch postseason pitcher and only built upon that reputation with his performance in Boston on Friday. Rookie closer Bobby Jenks has performed well so far. Neal Cotts, Cliff Politte, Dustin Hermanson have all been solid all season. Damaso Marte remains on the playoff roster despite his irratic pitching and shaky performance in Boston.
The Angels have a tough bullpen as well, lead by closer Francisco Rodriguez. Brendan Donnelly, Scot Shields and Kelvim Escobar have pitched well this season post-season. Ervin Santana was masterful last night, but went over 5 innings, so he's not available until the series returns to L.A. With their starting pitching in shambles, the bullpen will be expected to log many innings.
Edge: White Sox
The White Sox have shown they can score a number of ways, whether through small ball or the long ball. They had 9 guys hit at least 10 homers this year, lead by Paul Konerko's 40 and Jermaine Dye's 31. Scott Podsednik lead the AL in stolen bases most of the season, although his baserunning suffered since he injured his hamstring. He finished with 59 steals. Nobody in the lineup hits for particularly high average, though.
The Angels lineup includes Vladimir Guerrero, one of the games most feared hitters. He hit .317 this year with 32 homers and 108 RBIs. Garret Anderson bats cleanup, and although his power numbers have dropped the past couple season he remains a good hitter. Chone Figgens lead the league with 62 stolen bases (in 100+ more at-bats than Pods), so the Angels also have speed at the top of their lineup.
The Angels and manager Mike Scioscia won the World Series in 2002 and had lead his team to the playoffs in 3 of the last 4 years. Ozzie Guillen is in his second year as a manager and first playoff appearance. Ozzie's also received lots of press for his hold-no-punches comments. Will that motivate his club or distract them in the playoffs?
Chicagoist's Prediction: White Sox in 6, same as our siblings in L.A.