Now that the Boston Red Sox have gone back to Fenway Park, cleaned out their lockers, and settled in for a nice long 150 day vacation, let’s get down to hard cases. On paper, the Tampa Bay Rays - Philadelphia Phillies series might resemble a wash. Starting pitching is about even; the Phils have a clear edge with Brad Lidge as their closer, but if the Rays activate Troy Percival, that edge gets considerably filed down. The Phils get the nod in power hitting and fielding; the Rays are better at small ball - hitting for average, base swipes, hit and run, and hitting in the clutch. All nice, neat and in a row, right?
Not so fast kemo sabe. Time for a reality check.
Hard fought series? Check. Scratching out runs? You bet. Clutch hitting and smart pitching? No question. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels goes tonight against Los Angeles Dodgers veteran pitcher Derek Lowe. Both posted 14 wins. Lowe chalked up 11 losses while Hamels had 10. Both hurlers were pretty even in ERA, WHIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. Look for a real pitchers duel. Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will probably break out of their NLDS slumps with timely hits while the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez will be swinging a mighty bat throughout the series.
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