Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Still, I think you'd have to categorize tonight's game as a must-win for the Cardinals: they don't want to fall behind 0-3, and it would probably be devistating for their morale to lose a playoff game at home, something they didn't do in the NLDS or NLCS. For them to have success the Big 4 will have to start hitting: they are a collective 8-for-32 so far. Rolen in particular has struggled, going 0-for-8 against the Red Sox pitching. They'll also have to drive Pedro from the game: Suppan v. Pedro is a mis-match and the Cards will have more success against the Red Sox bullpen than their starters, as Schilling proved in Game Two.
So who has the advantage? Probably the Cardinals. While it is true that their pitching was better at home than away (3.54 ERA / 1.24 WHIP at home; 3.96 ERA / 1.26 WHIP away), the key factor will be the Red Sox discomfort at playing on the road: the Red Sox were a sterling 55-26 at Fenway and 43-38 on the road. The Red Sox were terrific offensively at home (.304 BA, 517 runs, .504 SLG) and ordinary away (.250 BA, 432 runs, .441 SLG). No team in baseball probably benefitted as much from homefield advantage than the Red Sox, although it is worth noting that the Red Sox led the AL in road WHIP at 1.30 ...
The NL factor has to be discussed too: Red Sox pitchers hit in ten games in '04: they went 2-for-21 (.095 BA), with 10 strikeouts and one RBI. Without the DH the Red Sox will be forced to start David Ortiz at first over Kevin Millar: not only will they be losing Millar's bat (.297 BA, .383 OBP, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 74 runs, 36 2B), but they'll have to deal with a downgrade on defense*, a troubling prospect as the Red Sox committed a whopping eight errors in Games 1 & 2. The offensive / defensive production loss may be difficult for the Red Sox to absorb. So far in the series their depth on offense has enabled them to bog down the Cardinals pitching and score runs. The Cardinals will lose a lot less with their pitchers swinging the bat.
*Though I would note that according to ESPN, Ortiz has a better Range Factor and Zone Rating for 2004:
Ortiz: .797 ZR; 9.47 RF; .989 FP
Millar: .789 ZR; 9.21 RF; .986 FP
So advantage Cardinals. The Red Sox hopes to win will rest squarely on the shoulder of Pedro, who pitched much worse on the road than at home:
Away: 7-6; 4.61 ERA
Home: 9-3; 3.22 ERA
If Rolen, Edmonds, Pujols & Walker can drive Pedro from the mound early, they should probably win. I predict: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 3.
here, keep up the good work :-)