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Red Sox-Angels ALDS Preview

Boston and the Los Angeles Angels renew their colorful postseason rivalry in this best-of-five divisional round. The Red Sox and Angels have met in three previous playoff series beginning in 1986, with Boston winning every time. These two franchises have also collected three World Series championships since 2002.

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Boston upended the Angels back in the 1986 American League Championship Series in a classic seven-game series. The Red Sox swept Los Angeles in the 2004 and 2007 AL Divisional Series en route to World Series victories. The Angels avoided Boston en route to their lone World Series championship in 2002, beating the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants.

The divisional series follows a 2-2-1 format, with Los Angeles currently listed as a $1.30 favorite (bet $130 to win $100) to win this series over Boston, the $1.10 underdog (bet $100 to win $110). The Angels outscored the Red Sox, 22-9, during a three-game series in July at Fenway Park. The next day at the July 31 trading deadline, Boston shipped disgruntled slugger Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

During the nine-game season series between these squads, Los Angeles connected at a .305 clip while scoring an average of 6.8 runs. During those same games, Boston hit a measly .252 while averaging just 3.7 runs. 

 
2008 STATISTICS
TEAM SU HOME AWAY OVER/UNDER
Boston Red Sox 95-67 (+993) 56-25 39-42 72-79
Los Angeles Angels 100-62 (+2207) 50-31 50-31 70-87
 
 
Red Sox:
Boston is going through the wild-card route once again, but this time the team finished behind the upstart Tampa Bay Rays and not the New York Yankees. The Red Sox have only won the AL East once since 1996, winning the division last year en route to the World Series victory. Boston has been relegated to the wild card in 2003, 2004 and 2005 before missing the postseason in 2006 and winning the AL East last year.

Boston enters this series at less than 100 percent, with pitcher Josh Beckett suffering through an elbow injury. The 28-year-old also strained his oblique muscle on his side during a Friday workout. The right-hander is scheduled to pitch Game 3, but only time will tell how effective he will pitch. Third-baseman Mike Lowell has been slowed by a sore left hip that affects his fielding more than anything. The reigning World Series MVP was instrumental last season during the Red Sox run to the title, and his health will play a major part in Boston’s chances this year.

Angels: Despite the Angels’ dismal postseason history against Boston, Los Angeles has dominated the Red Sox this season in nine meetings. The Angels have gone a robust 8-1, winning the last eight encounters. Los Angeles swept Boston in a three-game home series and a three-game road series during the month of July.

The Angels finished the regular season with the best record in baseball (100-62), finishing a whopping 21 games ahead of second-place Texas. That could actually work against Los Angeles during the postseason, not playing a meaningful game the past three weeks. When games are close, the Angels can turn to ace reliever Francisco Rodriguez who set a major league record this season with 62 saves.

Projected Pitching

Game 1: Wednesday October 1 Boston Jon Lester (16-6, 3.21 ERA) vs. Los Angeles John Lackey (12-5, 3.75 ERA)
Game 2: Friday October 3 Boston Daisuke Matsuzaka (18-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. Los Angeles Ervin Santana (16-7, 3.49 ERA)
Game 3:
Sunday October 5 Los Angeles Joe Saunders (2-3, 2.24 ERA) vs. Boston Josh Beckett (12-10, 4.03 ERA)

2008 Head to Head Meetings
Date Results Total
04/22/08 LA Angels 6 @ Boston (-120) 7 OVER 10
04/23/08 LA Angels (+130) 6 @ Boston 4 UNDER 10.5
04/24/08 LA Angels (+110) 7 @ Boston 5 OVER 10.5
07/18/08 Boston 3 @ LA Angels (-145) 11 OVER 7.5
07/19/08 Boston 2 @ LA Angels (+110) 4 UNDER 8
07/20/08 Boston 3 @ LA Angels (+105) 5 UNDER 9
07/28/08 LA Angels (+160) 7 @ Boston 5 OVER 9
07/29/08 LA Angels (+115) 6 @ Boston 2 UNDER 9
07/30/08 LA Angels (+175) 9 @ Boston 2 OVER 8.5
Winners in BOLD

Prediction:
Boston is the defending World Series champion, while Los Angeles has won four AL West division titles (2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008) since its lone championship in 2002. The Angels have dominated the Red Sox this season, winning the past eight meetings.

A short five-game series favors Boston, a team currently hampered by some key injury issues. Plus, the Red Sox are the defending champions loaded with veteran talent. However, Los Angeles is the better team this season that appears to have Boston’s number. The Angels finished the regular season with the best record in baseball, and have the best reliever in the game to close out games. Los Angeles finally reverses its postseason losses to Boston and advances to the next round.

Los Angeles in four games

Brad Young can be reached at byoung@vegasinsider.com.

  
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