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There are only a handful of games left (12 and counting to be exact) and the Red Sox are right in the midst of another run to the postseason. Boston doesn’t have another night off as they roll through Kansas City and New York before ending on a home stand against Toronto and Cleveland.
Winning seven games will lock them into the Wild Card, where they currently hold a seven-game lead over the Texas Rangers. If the season ended today, a matchup against the Anaheim Angles would happen for the second season in a row. However, Boston is just six games behind New York for the AL East, and while catching the Yankees might be highly unlikely, it is not out of the question.
In 2007, the New York Mets had a 7.5-game lead in the NL East with 17 games remaining. However, after a horrendous stretch, they found themselves second in their division and third in wild card standings by the end of the year. That same season, the Colorado Rockies were in the middle of winning 21 of 22 games, en route to their first World Series appearance (in a loss to the Red Sox, of course).
So there is always the chance for the Red Sox to steal the East crown. After finishing their series with the Angles, the Yankees will welcome Boston to New York, followed by Kansas City. Then they travel to Tampa where the Rays might get the chance to play spoiler to the Bronx’s Bombers division title hopes.
However, there is an underlying question behind all of this. Who would the Red Sox like to play come October? Sure winning the East would be great, but a matchup against the Tigers, or the surging Twins, might not be as favorable as the Angles, who the Sox have had postseason success against. Each offers a different matchup and a different battle.
The Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim currently sit 7.5 games up on Texas and need to only win six games to win the AL West. They are a solid lineup complete with power, defense, and a proven manager in Mike Scioscia. They have a strong cast of characters, too: Vladimir Gurrero, Bobby Abreu, Kendry Morales, Torii Hunter and Mike Napoli, just to name a few. They are sitting on 90 wins and have won 90 or more games in five of the past six seasons. They are no stranger to the postseason, or to Boston.
In 2004, Boston rolled past the then “Anaheim” Angles with a 3-0 sweep. In 2007, the Angles added Los Angeles to their name, but couldn’t add a win, once again being swept 3-0. Last season, the two squads once again met and Boston was looking to bring out the brooms again. However, down 2-0 and playing in Fenway, the Angles won their first game in six tries against Boston in the postseason, winning in 12 innings. The Sox won the next one and went to the ALCS again.
The Angles won the season series against the Red Sox 5-4. Most of those wins were early in the season, and as everyone know, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. In the final match up between the two teams, Boston took two of three and looked like the better team all-around.
The Detroit Tigers are sitting a top the AL Central right now. They are clinging to a 2.5-game lead over the Twins, and just lost two of three to Minnesota. They have to go to Cleveland and Chicago before finishing up at home with a four game series against the Twins and ending the season with the White Sox.
The Tigers are stacked with guys like Miguel Cabrera, Aubry Huff, Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge and pitchers that include Jarrod Washburn and 16-game winner Justin Verlander. This team could look to avenge the 1915 Detroit Tigers who lost the American League Pennant, to the eventual World Series winning Red Sox, by just one game.
The Tigers were at the mercy of the Red Sox this season, going 1-6 against Boston and being outscored 42-23 during the match ups. There is bad blood between these two as on Aug. 11, the benches cleared when Kevin Youkilis charged the mound after being hit by a pitch. A postseason matchup could see more bad blood spill between the two old school teams.
The stars would have to really align for the Minnesota Twins and Red Sox to meet in the first round, but it isn’t out of the question. The Red Sox would have to climb out of their six-game deficit and the Twins would have to make up the two and a half games they trail. However, Minnesota has won seven of their last eight, including two of three against the Tigers. After finishing up their series with the White Sox, they go to Kansas City before a four game series in Detroit ending their season with the Royals.
Despite being post season regulars, the Twins and Red Sox have never met in October. The Twins couldn’t get past the Yankees in 2003 or 2004 to meet Boston in the ALCS and lost to Oakland in 2006, when the Red Sox weren’t even post season bound. This year’s team was led in part by Justin Morneau, but he’s now out for the season. MVP candidate Joe Mauer will look to take the Twins on his back to the ALCS for the first time since 2002, in their loss to the Angles.
The Twins are another Central team that has not had success against the Sox, going 2-4 on the season. However, the two teams haven’t met in the second half, as the last matchup was on May 28. This is a new Twins team and could be dangerous in the post season.
Tags: Aubrey Huff, Bobby Abreu, Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers, Jarod Washburn, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Justin Verlander, Kevin Youkilis, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrerra, Mike Napoli, Minnesota Twins, Red Sox, Torii Hunter, Vladimir Gurrero