Friday, September 21, 2007

Down the Stretch They Come!

Wang versus Halladay.

Beckett versus Kazmir.

Could you start the final push with a pair of more dramatic matchups? I'll give you my take on both games and perhaps offer a prediction for what we might see in what promises to be the best drama of the year for a one night stand.

First, I will look at the two pitchers going in the other matchup. Career versus Tampa Josh Beckett hasn't been all that good. A small 4 game sample shows the following numbers for Beckett:

4 Games
25.2 IP
28 hits
6 walks
5 HR
30 Ks
4.91 ERA
1.32 WHIP
.280 BAA

This year Beckett is probably going to walk away with the Cy Young though. He's a bit different in 2007, and has only really faced Tampa once. He dominated them to the tune of 6 innings, 9 hits, a walk, 3 runs, and 9 strikeouts. The Red Sox won that game 15-4. They scores 6 in the first, 3 in the second, and 4 in the third. Hardly a tough day at the park for the Boston boys.

Beckett's opponent tonight is Scott Kazmir, who seems to kill Boston. His career numbers against the Beantown Boys are:

16 Games
96.1 IP
76 hits
44 walks
6 HR
109 Ks
2.62 ERA
1.25 WHIP
.218 BAA

This season Kazmir has started 5 games against Boston and has 30.2 innings pitched, 28 hits, 13 walks, 1 home run, 40 Ks, and a 2.64 ERA. It's hard to argue that Kazmir doesn't have Boston's number. What's more the Red Sox come in on a 4 game losing streak in which they've only managed 8 total runs. They were shut out 1-0 by Kazmir on the 10th of the month and are without Manny, and possibly Youkilis, Crisp, and Ortiz. All are ailing in one way or the other. I expect to see two of the three play, but Manny is definitely out. With the troubles the Sox are having the pen also is without Okajima for the next 5 days, and I have a hard time seeing them win if several of the regulars miss the game. My prediction:

Tampa 4, Red Sox 3

On to the Yanks and Jays. Halladay is a flat out monster. That is, when he's healthy. He's up to 210 innings now, but all signs point to a very tough ace heading into town. Halladay has had very little in the way of bumpy roads in recent weeks and months and looks every bit the Cy Young caliber pitcher we all know and hate. Against the Yankees his numbers are outstanding, with a 3.10 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and .247 BAA in his career. He's been good against the Bombers again this season and I expect him to be lights out again.

Wang has been very good lately. He didn't pitch well in his last start in Boston, but really hit his stride after some early August struggles. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Wang's worst outing of the year came in a 15-4 loss to Toronto when he only went 2.2 innings and allowed 9 hits, 2 walks, and 8 runs. Ouch. His career numbers aren't very good against Toronto either, with an ERA approaching 5.00, so I don't see things going our way tonight. Unlike the Red Sox, however, the Yankees are on a goofy roll, winning 12 of 14. Of those two losses, one was lopsided in Boston and the other was an Ian Kennedy masterpiece that unfortunately ended in a tough 2-1 walk off loss thanks to Chris Britton. That means that we were really close to winning 13 out of 14, and in my book that means we're nuclear hot. I still can't see it tonight. My prediction:

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 3

If my predictions hold, we'll stay 1.5 back and the race will continue. I'm just hoping that all the numbers that we've seen are moot with the recent explosion by the Bombers and we'll pull out some whooping sticks against Halladay. If we can do that, look out. See you tomorrow. Go Yanks.