Worth the Wait: Twins Outlast Tigers and Playoff Predictions
It took 24 combined hits, 14 different pitchers and 12 innings, (not to mention 163 games) but the Minnesota Twins are the 2010 AL Central Division champs. Early on the Tigers took a 3-0 lead, but the Twins battled back to go up 4-3 in the 7th before the Tigers tied it to force extra innings. Minnesota had to outlast a number of Tigers opportunities in the late innings, including scoring the tying run in the 10th to keep the game alive. Now the Twins “won” the right to face the Yankees in the first round in a series that starts tonight.
Yankees vs. Twins:
New York is a huge favorite in the five game series, and that was even before the Twins used some of the best bullpen arms last night. This very well could be a sweep, but I think the Twins will steal one of the games from New York when they return home to Minnesota. The Yankees just have too much pitching and hitting for the Twins. And if the game is ever close in the 8th or 9th inning the Yankees have Mariano Rivera, the best closer ever to play the game. The Twins right now are without their second best offensive weapon (Morneau) and have a makeshift pitching rotation. They just can’t match up with the Yankees to really give them a threat.
Rockies vs. Phillies
No team has been hotter down the stretch this year than the Colorado Rockies, going 74-42 after replacing Clint Hurdle with Jim Tracy early in the season. They almost stole the NL West from the Dodgers, and overcame seven other teams fighting for the Wild Card spot down the stretch. Their impressive run though is about to come to an end, as the are prepared to meet the world champs in the first round. The Philadelphia Phillies have a great offense with five players with 20 or more home runs on the year. The Phillies have the deepest starting pitching they’ve had since they went to the World Series in 1993, with a pair of aces at the top in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Lee and Hamels should be the difference in the series, between the two of them they should be able to win three games. The Phillies only weakness is their bullpen, I don’t know if they can rely on them to hold 1-3 run leads night in and night out. The good news for Philly is they can use their extra starting depth to pitch meaningful innings out of the bullpen. The Rockies are a good team, but are already without one of their top pitchers for the series. They have a good lineup 1-8, but don’t have the star power outside Tulowitzki at SS. As long as the Phillies don’t need to rely on their bullpen too much, they should have no problems advancing to the next round. I think Philadelphia wins this series 3-1, although with the way the Rockies have been playing and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them force a game 5.
Dodgers vs. Cardinals:
The Cardinals seem to be a favorite NL World Series pick among baseball people out there, but I don’t think they will make it past LA in the first round. I understand that the Cards have Pujols and Matt Holliday, two of the best hitters in the game, and they have a pair of Cy Young contenders in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have enough talent elsewhere to win this series. The Dodgers are stacked 1-25 on their roster, they have the deepest, bench, lineup, bullpen and rotation in the National League this year. Combine that with the home field advantage aspect, and I think the Dodgers are the favorites in this series. The big difference is going to be the bullpens in this matchup. The Dodgers might have the best bullpen in the game right now, where as the Cardinals bullpen scares me even more than the Phillies bullpen. They have been pitching over their heads this year, and I don’t know if they will be able to shut the door on the Dodgers offense like they were able to do against the likes of the Pirates and Reds during the season. In the end I think the Dodgers bench and bullpen win the day (and series) for LA 3-2.