Wacky baseball playoffs
Major League Baseball's League Divisional Series were loaded with surprises the favoured Yankees and Athletics were ousted, the Diamondbacks were dethroned and even Barry Bonds forgot to choke.
The last time any of the four remaining teams played in a World Series was 1991, when the Twins edged out the Braves in a classic. This post-season has been highly unpredictable, but The Gazette will try again to aid you in your gambling habbit.
American League: Minnesota Twins vs. Anaheim Angels
This is a classic underdog match-up. Neither the Twins nor the Angels boast any household names, but they've probably just knocked off the top two contenders in all of baseball.
The season series between these clubs was tight, 5-4 in favour of the Twins. However, there is a glaring statistic that could mean the difference in this series: the Twins couldn't hit a lefty if he was hurling beach balls, but they punish right-handers. To be precise, they were 23-29 with a .252 team batting average when southpaws got the start this season, but an astounding 71-38 against righties.
In the divisional series, the A's made the mistake of running right-hander Tim Hudson to the mound twice, where he was shellacked for a 6.23 earned run average and two of the Twins' victories. Why on earth lefty Barry Zito only started one game will forever remain a mystery.
Anaheim, on the other hand, has no choice. The staff ace, Jarrod Washburn, is the only lefty in the Angels' rotation. In fact, in three regular season starts against the Twins, Washburn was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA, while Kevin Appier and Ramon Ortiz, both righties, were a combined 0-3 with a 5.04 ERA versus the Twins. With Washburn starting game three, he'll only get to the hill twice for the halos and that may very well cost them the series.
Twins in seven games.
National League: St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
The sleeping giant has awoken. After five playoff series of utter futility, Barry Bonds has finally shown that he is not a one-trick pony by socking three homers against the Braves and becoming a catalyst for the Giants offense.
The Cardinals attack has plenty to boast about as well. They pummeled Randy Johnson, held off Curt Schilling and altogether batted .314 in a three game sweep of the hapless D-Backs. The Cards are red hot from top to bottom in the order and probably have the toughest lineup of the four remaining teams. The loss of Scott Rolen to a shoulder injury will leave a gaping void in the heart of the Cards' order, but they have proven they can win not just with their bats, but with their arms they posted a sparkling 1.33 team ERA against Arizona.
The Giants overcame a formidable pitching staff as well the Braves staff ranked first in the National League in ERA, followed by the Giants and the Cards, who sit second and fourth respectively.
All signs suggest that this will be a close series. Bonds is finally producing in October, the Giants bullpen has looked flawless, but it's hard to imagine a team that can knock off Johnson and Schilling in consecutive games won't continue to put runs on the board.
Ultimately, this series will come down to execution and, under the watchful eye of manager Tony La Russa, the Cards will prevail.
Cardinals in six games.