The final preview we have is the only series that has not started yet. The surprise team the Rays will take on the Central winning White Sox. The White Sox had to work hard to get into the postseason, beating three different teams in three straight days. The Rays were in front for most of the season, winning 97 games. Here is how it breaks down.
Starting Lineup: The Rays make pitchers work by creating offense and taking advantage of any misstakes. The Rays don’t have any regulars who hit over .300, but do have some pop from Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria. The White Sox, without Carlos Quentin, still have power in there lineup. They have five others who hit more than 20 Homers this season, including Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome with 34 a piece. Edge White Sox.
Bench: The Rays have a few options in Eric Hinske and Willy Aybar off the bench. Gabe Gross and Ben Zubrist round out their fielding reserves. They have had some production from these guys, especially Hinske’s 20 Homers. The White Sox are already into their bench basically, with injuries to Joe Crede and Carlos Quentin. Dewayne Wise and Brian Anderson will probably be used as defensive replacements for Griffey in Center, so they are in good shape there. However, they do not have much in their utility infielders. Josh fields has played sparingly and has not done too much. Edge Rays.
Starting Pitching: The Rays will throw James Shields (14-8 3.56 ERA), Scott Kazmir (12-8 3.49 ERA), Matt Garza (11-9 3.70 ERA), and Andy Sonnanstine (13-9 4.38 ERA). They have been a really solid rotation all year. The White Sox will come back with Javier Vazquez (12-16 4.67 ERA), Mark Buehrle (15-12 3.79 ERA), Jon Danks (11-9 3.47 ERA), and Gavin Floyd (17-8 3.84 ERA). Buehrle, Floyd, and Danks pitched the last three days so Vazquez has to go in game 1. Edge Rays.
Bullpen: The Rays objective is to get the ball to Troy Percival. They have been good at doing this with the help of Grant Balfour (58.1 inn 1.54 ERA), Dan Wheeler (66.1 inn 3.12 ERA), and JP Howell (89.1 inn 2.22 ERA). That definitley gets it done. The White Sox closer in Bobby Jenks who is very good. Getting him the ball will be Octavio Dotel (67 inn 3.76 ERA), Scott Linebrink (46 inn 3.69 ERA), and Matt Thornton (67.1 inn 2.67 ERA). They both have good bullpens so this is tough one, edge White Sox.
Intangibles: The Rays are really young and the White Sox are experienced. The White Sox had to work very hard to get into the postseason. Ozzie Guillen is crazy, but awesome.
Prediction: Rays win in 5.
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