Both the Bruins and Red Sox will be battling against teams from Anaheim tonight. The Bruins are playing my boy Nick Bonino’s (Go BU hockey!) team, the Anaheim Ducks. Looch plays for the first time since signing a big, three year deal. The Bruins are also looking to continue their win streak post-Carolina killing.
The Red Sox begin the ALDS tonight at 9:37 p.m. ET. Jon Lester grabs the ace role for the club, taking the hill against Jon Lackey, who the Red Sox faced a couple of weeks ago.
I am feeling most confident about tonight’s game. Lester and Lackey are pretty similar pitchers on paper. Lester has a 15-8 record, Lackey is 11-8. Lester has a 3.41 ERA, Lackey has a 3.83 ERA. Lackey is 0-1 versus Boston this season.
Lester has only pitched once in an ALDS in his career and it was last year against the Angels. He gave up one unearned run, six hits and struck out seven in seven innings. Lester has also not faced the Angels this season. This is bad news for the Angels, as they still have to figure out Lester’s stuff. Lester, meanwhile, will be pitching the same game he always does.
The Red Sox have also ended the Angels season three out of the last five years. Players will downplay this. History does not matter, they’ll say. It’s all about this year. We are only focused on this game.
Baseball can be a very mental game. If players get an idea stuck in their head, they are bound to play into that idea. Thus, the Angels are bound to have more doubts than the Red Sox. The Red Sox own Anaheim in the playoffs. Of course the Angels will want to put an end to this, but the second something goes wrong, a double play ends a promising inning, a fielder makes an error, a batter strikes out with the bases loaded – those doubts will start to overwhelm Angels’ players’ heads.
The Angels have to wage a battle in their heads and on the field. The Red Sox have only one battle to worry about.
That said, I still do not believe the Red Sox have what it takes to win this series. The first two starting pitching slots are a little shaky but not horrible, yet Daisuke and Buchholz bring up a lot of question marks. Is Daisuke sharp enough to pitch well in the postseason? Can Buchholz handle the pressure of possibly pitching in an elimination game? Will we even get to Buchholz?
All of these questions will begin to be answered tonight. I’m saying Angels in 5.