The Red Sox and Rays will meet for the seventh time in the American League Championship Series. The Rays could’ve, should’ve closed out the series Thursday night; instead, they’re seemingly underdogs, backs to the wall with all the pressure because a hot Red Sox squad bombed them out in the last 20 innings of baseball.
Now that the Sox have made this series a classic, there are a few things at play. One is the adage that the relaxed, waiting Phils won’t be ready for the heat that either opponent would bring. The Phils will be facing an American League team that had only two off days, while the Phils will be coming off a six-day layaway. While I’m not a huge believer that the Phils will be cold as stone in game one of the World Series, they may not be as adrenaline-pumped as whomever they play.
Then there’s the starting rotation factor. The Phils will be lined up for the World Series with their ace, Cole Hamels, seemingly ready to pitch game one. Everything else will fall in exactly. Does it make a huge difference that the Sox and Rays may not have a lined-up rotation? Especially when the Sox would open with Daisuke Matzusaka, and the Rays would open with Scott Kazmir.
I’ve heard a lot of people tell me they’re scared about the World Series, now that the ALCS has gone seven. They think the Phils will be stiff and pressing, while the American League team will be playing a natural game. But I’ve seen a different Phillies team this season — especially in the last two months. It’s a team that doesn’t need to be hot to be good, to win. It’s a team that gets it done. Ultimately, that puts the Phils ahead of the pack, whichever team they play.