Why is Yankee pitching like Chicken Vindaloo? They’re both forms of Indian food.
The hapless Cleveland Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948, a record so tragic it’s even worse than that of the Giants. They’ve been the butt of a series of comedy movies about their extreme suckitude and get no respect from anyone. But they handed a spanking to the surging Yankees in the playoffs and probably ended Joe Torre’s career as a major league manager. And they did it by proving an old maxim of baseball wisdom: good pitching beats crappy pitching.
Seven Indians had OPS’s above 1.000, compared to exactly one for the slugging Yankees, Robbie Cano. Captain Clutch produced exactly no offense for the Yanks, as his three singles were erased by the three double-play balls he hit, and while he didn’t exactly choke, the great A-Rod hit a mediocre .267 with one measly RBI. You can’t blame it one the short series or the plague of locusts, as the Yankees simply didn’t have the pitching to dominate the Central Division champs.
All you can say for the Yankees and their $230M payroll is that they didn’t get swept, which puts them in rarefied company this post-season. But maybe it’s better for the fans of the Cubs, Phillies, and Angels who had their teams surgically removed from the tournament in the shortest order possible. The ALCS (or Real World Series as I like to call it) should be great baseball because the teams are so evenly matched.
Sabathia vs. Beckett: advantage Boston
Carmona vs. Schilling: advantage Cleveland
Westbrook vs. Dice-K: advantage Cleveland
Byrd vs. Wakefield (or somebody TBD): advantage Cleveland
The Indians have a better bullpen, with the exception of closers, and that may be the difference. I don’t see much difference between these two teams offensively, but the Indians have the edge on defense as long as Manny is on the field. Statistically, the Sox are slightly ahead of the Tribe in both ERA and OPS, but that was regular season. Post-season, the Indians have the edge in hitting and the Sox have ridiculous pitching numbers due to the performances of Schilling and Beckett. Small sample size. Emotionally, I’d give the edge to Boston as they haven’t had to work hard, while the Indians may crash with all the off-days they have before Friday and a big high after beating the Yanks.
Both of these teams are well-designed, so it will all come down to execution, as they say. Go Indians!