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    Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Playoff Preview – ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
    -Cybsball20

    Thursday 10/2 at Tampa Bay
    Chi – Vazquez TB – Shields

    Friday 10/3 at Tampa Bay
    Chi – Buehrle TB - Kazmir

    Sunday 10/5 at Chicago
    TB – Garza Chi – Danks

    Monday 10/6 at Chicago
    TB - Sonnanstine Chi - Floyd

    Wednesday 10/8 at Tampa Bay
    Chi – Vazquez/Buehrle TB - Shields


    Results This Season
    At Tampa Bay
    4/18 White Sox 9 Rays 2
    WP Vazquez LP Niemann

    4/19 White Sox 0 Rays 5
    WP Sonnanstine LP Buehrle

    4/20 White Sox 5 Rays 0
    WP Danks LP Jackson

    5/29 White Sox 5 Rays 1
    WP Danks LP Jackson

    5/30 White Sox 1 Rays 2
    WP Wheeler LP Linebrink

    5/31 White Sox 0 Rays 2
    WP Kazmir LP Vazquez

    6/1 White Sox 3 Rays 4
    WP Howell LP Thornton

    At Chicago
    8/22 Rays 9 White Sox 4
    WP Jackson LP Danks

    8/23 Rays 5 White Sox 3
    WP Balfour LP Vazquez
    8/24 Rays 5 White Sox 6
    WP Jenks LP Hammel


    About the White Sox

    The White Sox enter the playoffs as the AL Central champion after holding off the Minnesota Twins then beating them in a one game playoff, 1-0. They may have just squeaked in, but non of that matters now that they have made it. The sox were hoping to get some good news this morning in the form of Carlos Quinten’s medical reports. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Quentin’s wrist will be ready to go for round one and he will be left off the ALDS roster. Many thought that the White Sox were going to treat this season as a rebuilding year, knowing they had to rely on untested young players like Quinten, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd. Those three youngsters, all under 26, combine with Rookie of the Year candidate Alexei Ramirez for a good solid nucleus that should have South Side fans excited for years to come. When you add veterans like Mark Buehrle, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome and A.J. Pierzynski to that mix, you are looking at a very dangerous post-season team.

    The White Sox pitching has been led by the two youngsters, John Danks (12-9 3.39) and Gavin Floyd (17-8 3.84). Danks came up huge in the one game playoff, holding the Twins to two hits and no runs over 8 innings to secure the Sox postseason berth. Considering that the game before, Danks didn’t gave up 7 runs in 4 innings, the playoff could have been the boost of confidence the 24-year old needed going into the ALDS. The 25-year old Floyd has already spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues coming into this, his first full Major League season. Some worried that the 206 innings Floyd has pitched would catch up to him, especially looking at his 4.81 September ERA. But, the right hander finished the season strong with a solid 6 inning 8 strikeout performance against the Tigers. Mark Buehrle (15-12 3.79)will once again be the veteran anchor to the staff. The long time Sox lefty is entering his third postseason with the club (3-1 3.42 in postseason) and will be looked to for stability. Game one starter, Javier Vazquez (12-16 4.67) might be the biggest question mark on the staff, you never know what you’re going to get. Manager Ozzie Guillen called out Vazquez, hoping he would step up to the challenge and lead, but Javier’s ‘who cares’ attitude was not the response Guillen or Sox fans wanted. Entering the postseason givng up 19 runs in your last 12 innings is never the kind of momentum you want on your side. The Sox have struggled all year to find a competent fifth starter, but lucky for the sox, they won’t need one the rest of the way.

    On the surface, the White Sox bullpen would appear to be very solid, but there are some question marks and the Sox are only going with a seven man pen in this first round. Closer, Bobby Jenks (3-1 2.63), has been pretty reliable this year, converting 30 out of 34 save opportunities. However, in Jenks’ last 10 appearances he has allowed 9 earned runs in just 13.1 innings pitched. Setting him up will be Octavio Dotel (4-4 3.76) and lefty Matt Thorton (5-3 2.76), both appearing in more than 70 games this year but combining for 9 blown saves between the two. Rounding out the bullpen are D.J Carrasco (1-0 3.96), Scott Linebrink (2-2 3.69) and rookies Adam Russell (4-0 5.19) and Clayton Richard (2-5 6.04). Of the four, only Linebrink has appeared in more than 31 games.

    We already know that the White Sox offense is going to be without their MVP in Carlos Quinten, so who is going to step up? Over the last 30 days the Sox only have one player hitting over .300 and that’s Orlando Carbrera at .324. The good news is that over that same time period, Paul Konerko (.240) seems to have found his power with 9 of his 22 home runs. Jermaine Dye leads the team with a .292 batting average and is tied with Jim Thome (.245) for second on the team with 34 home runs behind Quinten’s 36. The Sox had hoped for more from Nick Swisher than just his post home run antics, but his .219 batting average and .332 on base average just aren’t cutting it. Alexei Ramirez has been more than a pleasant surprise. His .290 average and 22 home runs make him a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate and the Sox may not even have this chance without his go ahead grand slam against the Tigers in the season’s final game.


    About the Rays

    The Rays are coming into the post season after winning the grind that is the AL East. They held off a charge by the Red Sox and a nice token effort by the Yankees to finish 97-65 and a Major League best 57-24 record at home. Not bad considering it isn’t like they have the best home field advantage in the league. This year’s Rays are a product of past Devil Rays futility. By finishing so poorly over the last dozen year they have stocked the minor league system with scores of top draft picks and top talent. It was only a matter of time before that talent would be ready to play winning baseball at the Major League level. The Rays have have won with a very balanced combination of speed, defense, pitching, and timely hitting.

    The Rays pitching, like the rest of the team, may not put up flashy numbers, but they also don’t beat themselves. Game one starter, James Shields, leads the team with 14 wins against 8 losses. The 26 year old is nearly averaging seven innings a start and has a very nice 4-1 strikeout to walk ratio. Game two starter is All-Star Scott Kazmir. The 24-year old lefthander led the team with 166 strikeouts to go along with a 3.49 ERA. The Rays will follow with another 24-year old, Matt Garza. The right hander, obtained from the Twins in the offseason comes in with two complete game shutouts, a 3.70 ERA and 128 strikeouts. Rounding out the four man staff is 25-year old Andy Sonnanstine. Sonnanstine may not have the power arm like the other Rays starters, but makes up for it with command, only allowing 37 walks this year to go with his 13-9 record and 4.38 ERA. Fifth starter Edwin Jackson did not make the post season roster.

    The Rays bullpen will be without closer and veteran presence Troy Percival as he still has yet to recover from the latest back problems that have plagued him along with knee and hamstring problems. Replacing him as closer will be Dan Wheeler (5-6 3.12). Wheeler leads the team with 70 appearances but is just 13 of 18 in save opportunities. Wheeler does not have spectacular strikeout or whip numbers but seems to get the job done more times than not. Veteran Chad Bradford (4-3 2.12) was a late season addition from the Orioles and will be trusted in some late situations along with left hander J.P Howell (6-1 2.22). Rounding out the bullpen will be Grant Balfour (6-2 1.54), and lefties Trever Miller (2-0 4.15) and David Price (0-0 1.93). It’s safe to say that Jim Thome will probably see a lot of left handers and could a pitcher have a worse last name than “Balfour”????

    The Rays offense is led by Rookie phenom Evan Longoria. Longoria, the likely rookie of the year has been a major factor in the Rays emergence as a team to be reckoned with. Not only has he played gold glove caliber defense, but he also brings .272 average, 27 HR’s, and 85 RBI to the table. The Rays lineup does not have a single .300 hitter but combines great speed, patience, and timely hitting. The Rays lead all of the Major leagues with 142 stolen bases and have a solid .340. Carlos Pena leads the team with 31 home runs and 102 RBI to go with aan .871 OPS. Short Stop, Jason Bartlett is the team’s hottest hitter coming into the playoffs with a .321 average over the last 30 days along with catcher, All Star Dioner Navarro at .317.


    Key Players and Pitchers

    Chicago White Sox
    Key Player – Juan Uribe – The White Sox have to find a way to turn the order over as much as possible against the Rays. Uribe, at .247 hasn’t been an automatic out, but his .297 OBP isn’t helping things. If he can get on base and get back to the top of the lineup, it will really help the White Sox offense.

    Key Pitcher – Javier Vazquez – There really isn’t any other candidate here. Not only does Vazquez have to set the tone in game one, but he has to pitch ahead of his stuff. His pitches are too good to put up the kinds stats he is.

    Tampa Rays
    Key Player – Carl Crawford – Craford returns from the DL just in time for the playoffs. Without the ability to take a full rehab assignment, Crawford will be thrown right into the lineup today. If he can put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. His speed certainly hasn’t gone anywhere.

    Key Pitcher – Dan Wheeler – Again, this one seems to be a no contest. Wheeler hasn’t responded well to the closer roll in Houston or Tampa. He has the stuff to be a very serviceable closer, but needs to get past his own nerves. The Rays can’t afford to let leads get away late against a veteran team like the White Sox.


    Game Preview and Predictions
    Game One – Vazquez vs. Shields in Tampa 1:30 PM
    Vazquez has been shaky all season long and even worse in the last weeks of the season. This game should continue the trend. The Rays get it done with the long ball in this game and hold on late to win 5-2.

    Game Two – Buehrle vs. Kazmir in Tampa 5:30 PM
    Kazmir has been a little off towards the end of the year and Buehrle is a rock solid veteran. Kazmir doesn’t make it out of the fifth and the Sox take advantage of a trio of home runs to win 7-3.

    Game Three – Garza vs. Danks in Chicago TBD
    The Rays bounce back behind solid, but not spectacular pitching by Matt Garza. The bullpen holds on to win a close one 5-4 and Dan Wheeler lets out a huge sigh of relief. Evan Longoria and Rocco Baldelli both have big games for the Rays.


    Game Four – Sonnanstine vs. Floyd in Chicago TBD
    The rowdy South Side crowd gets the best of the young Sonnanstine and he is wild in the zone. Without the front-line stuff of his fellow Rays starters, the Sox hitters feast and win this one big, 8-2.

    Game Five – Vazquez vs. Shields in Tampa TBD
    The only series to go the full five, and why wouldn’t the White Sox play as many games as possible… The young Rays bounce back behind the best crowd they have seen at home. The young hitters come out swinging, running, and playing great defense. Rays win 8-4.



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    I hope the Rays can win this series. Has there even been much discussion in the higher ups of MLB to extending the first round to 7 game series?



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    If it goes five, Buehrle is pitching. Vazquez pitched Game 1 by default, not as a reward.



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Quote Originally Posted by mwitt View Post
    If it goes five, Buehrle is pitching. Vazquez pitched Game 1 by default, not as a reward.
    I agree and don't know how you could go any other way. Vazquez doesn't have the "guts" to handle a deciding game...



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Grant Balfour is now my favorite baseball player... The post game interview was awesome!



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Quote Originally Posted by cybsball20 View Post
    Grant Balfour is now my favorite baseball player... The post game interview was awesome!
    Didn't see it. What did he say?



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Quote Originally Posted by cybsball20 View Post
    Grant Balfour is now my favorite baseball player... The post game interview was awesome!
    He showed a lot of promise when he broke in with the Twins before his injury. Unfortunately, it took him over 2 years to make it back and they could not afford to tie up a roster spot for that long.



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Balfour is the Aussie right?



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Quote Originally Posted by cybsball20 View Post
    Grant Balfour is now my favorite baseball player... The post game interview was awesome!
    So your brother is chopped liver now?


    Chuck Lidell: I paint my toenails with pink and black polish. Problem is, I get more paint on my toes and on the carpet than on my nails. Any advice?
    Maria Sharapova: Don't you beat up other guys for a living? I don't know how to answer this.



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    If we make it to the ALCS, dollars to donuts Richard is the new starter.



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Quote Originally Posted by CrossCyed View Post
    If we make it to the ALCS, dollars to donuts Richard is the new starter.
    I know we're getting just a TAD ahead of ourselves here...

    What do you do with Javy then?? You can't leave him off the playoff roster. Long relief?? If you're going to use him for long relief you might as well start him. I never want to see the guy pitch in a Sox uniform again, but I don't know what they do with him...



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Quote Originally Posted by JRCampy View Post
    I know we're getting just a TAD ahead of ourselves here...

    What do you do with Javy then?? You can't leave him off the playoff roster. Long relief?? If you're going to use him for long relief you might as well start him. I never want to see the guy pitch in a Sox uniform again, but I don't know what they do with him...
    He's proven himself uncapable of doing anything under pressure, so he'd be in mopup.



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Quote Originally Posted by mwitt View Post
    Didn't see it. What did he say?
    Quote Originally Posted by BryceC View Post
    Balfour is the Aussie right?
    Ya, Balfour is the Aussie. He was just having fun in the clubhouse and kinda teasing Cabrera about it all.


    "Cabrera kicked dirt after the first pitch and I was like, 'Did that just happen?'" Balfour said. "And he's yelling at me to throw it over the plate."
    "He started cussing and it fired me up a bit," Balfour said. "I don't know if he was trying to get himself into the game, but I liked it. I felt he was insulting me so I stood my ground."


    "I was like, all right, and went right at him. And I started saying some words and left it at that. It just fired me up. ... It's not like I went in on him or anything. I was just trying to make a good pitch down and away."
    "I told him to go sit down. ...... I felt like he was insulting me. I was standing my ground, letting him know I wasn't going to stand there and take it ," Balfour said.

    "Yeah, I think I might have mixed one or two words in there with it," Balfour said. "I just let him know that I just wasn't going to stand there and take it."

    "Every time I come into the game, I'm fired up and I'm talking to myself," Balfour explained. "That's my game."
    Now just imagine it with the Aussie accent and smirk on his face like he really doesn't care... It was pretty entertaining...



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Cabrera has been all talk, all year long, he can stop running his mouth. Honestly I don't think the Sox are where they are without him, but I'm not going to be sad to see him leave at the end of the year. Alexei Ramirez will be play SS for the Sox next season... all they need to do is find yet another 2nd basemen, is Chris Getz the answer?? Guess we'll find out...



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    Re: Playoff Preview ALDS Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    Baseball is an odd sport for me, its the only one where I can say, If my team can't win it all, I don't want anyone in our division to do it. Sorry White sox fans, but I gotta cheer for the Rays in this one. I will say though, I was impressed with the 1 game playoff, you played well.



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