Last year, I thought that the (then) Anaheim Angels should have been the post-season favorite to win the World Series. So, I was shocked when the Red Sox knocked them out of the playoffs in the ALDS with a sweep.
How did the Red Sox do it? Good starting pitching helped – the Sox starters all went at least 6 IP in their three games.
But, more so, the key to the 2004 ALDS between the Angels and Sox was batting. The Sox did a great job at shutting down Figgins, Vlad, and Anderson. And, on the Boston hitting side, Damon, Manny and Ortiz were just flat out from another world with their sticks.
And, looking at this, I think this approach will be the same key for the Yankees in 2005 (against the Angels). New York must:
1. Have their starting pitchers hold the game into the 7th inning.
2. Do not allow Figgins, Vlad and Anderson to hit with success in the series.
3. Have at least three batters on their team hit somewhere between .385 and .545 over the course of the series. It can be Jeter-Rodriguez-Sheffield, or Cano-Giambi-Matsui, or Posada-Bernie-Bubba, etc. The “who” is not as important as it actually happening.
All three of these things are going to have to happen for New York to win. Preferably, they will all happen in the first three games and then the Yankees can have all of next weekend to prepare for the ALCS.