There was an all-American League East matchup in the American League Division Series last year and there will be one this season - just not involving the Orioles and Yankees.
The Boston Red Sox host the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon in Game 1 of the ALDS. The Red Sox are returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 after a 97-win regular season.
Tampa Bay is back in postseason play and, after winning games Sunday at Toronto, Monday at Texas and Wednesday at Cleveland, they try to win one at Fenway Park today.
You can’t pick a winner of this series by comparing their play in 2013 against the Orioles. But the O’s beat Boston 11-8 in the season series while they went just 6-13 against the Rays.
Against Tampa Bay in 2013, the Red Sox hit just .208 with a .280 OBP and scored just 3.7 runs per game. Yet Boston went 12-7 versus Tampa Bay, pitching to an ERA of 2.93 against the Rays.
I’m picking Boston to win this series. I was leaning for a bit toward the Rays and their strong pitching, but Boston led the league with a 53-28 home record and led the majors in scoring at 6.5 runs per game in September.
Their offense is relentless right now, they met every AL East challenge this year and they just seem to have a great chemistry, as well.
Tampa Bay played well the last few weeks, delivered the dagger to the Orioles and they have strong chemistry, too, and Joe Madden to lead the way.
But this just may be the Red Sox’s year. No Robert Andino to get in the way this time.
What say you? Who do you like in this series?