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The Blue & Gray Press | September 26, 2017

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Four Left, Only Two Move On

By JOEY MERKEL

Sorry, Cubs fans. I know people have been saying “maybe next year” for 100 years (literally) but…maybe next year. For the second year in a row, the Chicago Cubs were swept out of the National League Division Series; this year by Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers came into Chicago blazing hot and took out the Cubs with pitching and clutch defense, not to mention the long ball.

I wasn’t doubtful of the Dodgers hitting, however I was not sure if their starting pitching would be able to keep up with Dempster, Zambrano and Harden. However, Billingsley was stellar in game two and Derek Lowe filled his playoff repertoire even further going a strong six innings. In the end, when the Cubs went to Los Angeles, their offense was anemic and Rich Harden couldn’t measure up to Hiroki Kuroda’s 6.1 shutout innings. The Dodgers move on.

Without a strong outing by C.C. Sabathia, the Brewers were all but sunk in the Division Series. Sabathia was not able to carry his dominant performance during the regular season into the playoffs not unlike he did last year with Cleveland. The bottom line is that when it came down to pitching, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Joe Blanton were all superior, and there is no reason to believe they won’t do the same thing against the Dodgers.

The two teams played each other eight times this summer and every time the home team won. Home field advantage will be big in this one.

The Dodgers are dangerous, but if the Phillies’ pitching can perform like they did against the Brewers, they have just as potent of an offense as the Dodgers and can easily keep up. In the seven-game series, I believe that the Phillies will win in six games.

The Tampa Bay Rays will face off against the Boston Red Sox as they both took down their respective opponents in four games. The Red Sox beat the Angels on Monday night after a controversial play enabled the Red Sox to win in the bottom of the ninth.

With pinch-runner Reggie Willits on third base for the Angels, Erick Aybar squared up to bunt as Willits took a suicide lead.

Soon after, Aybar was unable to get the bat head on the ball and Jason Varitek was able to chase down Willits and put the tag on him before reaching third base. Vartiek fell right after the tag was put on; his glove hit the ground and the ball rolled out.

However, Willits was still called out because third-base umpire Tim Welke determined that Varitek had control of the ball long enough after the tag that the ball leaving the glove was a discontinuation.

The Rays-Red Sox series will spark up a feud that has been around throughout the year as the team’s butted heads and competed for first place in the American League Eastern Division. It was early June when Coco Crisp charged the mound after being beamed by Rays’ pitcher James Shield, igniting a benches clearing brawl that earned suspensions for eight players for a combined 38 games.

The season series for the Rays and the Red Sox went 10 to eight in the Rays favor. The Rays won all but one of their home games but went 2-7 at Fenway Park. Home-field advantage will play a big role in this series for both team and it’s possible the series goes to seven games because of it.

The first four games of the series are extremely important. At the end of the first four games, who ever has a road win, I say wins the series. If the teams are tied, hold on to your hats because it’s going to be a heck of a series.

The series is sure to ignite old flames once again and should be very exciting. With the emergence of Jon Lester as the new Josh Beckett of the postseason, the Red Sox look strong.
I can honestly say I do not know who will win this series, but just for kicks, I say the Rays take it in six if only because they are the underdogs.

Though it would be immensely cool to see “Manny Being Manny” in Fenway NOT wearing Red Sox jersey, this World Series is going to be a showdown between Tampa and Phildelphia.
I wonder how many people stopped being Rays fans this year after all the losing seasons only to come up one year short of the World Series.

It’s not their fault of course, it’s just as easy to switch to the Florida Marlins and say you were a fan all along.

This could finally be the year the city of Philadelphia ends its championship drought. The city hasn’t had a championship season since 1983. And no, I’m not counting the Philadelphia Soul winning

the Arena Football League championship this past summer, and neither will Philadelphia fans, unless they don’t win the World Series.
Unfortunately, I don’t think they will.

Against the Rays, in Tampa, you do not win. These guys just don’t lose at home. They have fought through adversity all year long. No one thought that they would be able to hold off the stampeding Red Sox all year, but they did.

When Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford both went down for a month in August, a critical time, they were able to hold on to first place the whole month. Now they have both back healthy.

In his first two postseason at-bats, Longoria went deep twice. B.J. Upton hit two bombs in the series-clinging game against the White Sox and Carl Crawford has been with the team longer than anyone else, so you know there is nothing that will keep him off of the roster.

To be honest, it’s just too good of a story to not believe in. The Rays, their first ever postseason appearance will win the World Series,beating the Phillies in either five or six games.
Whether it be the Phillies or Rays that win thewhole shibang, to me, it doesn’t matter.

As long as the Rockies aren’t in the postseason, this year is sure to be much more exciting than last.

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