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ALDS forecast: Red Sox vs. Angels
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10/03/2004 7:00 PM ET
ALDS forecast: Red Sox vs. Angels
An in-depth look at the first-round matchup
tickets for any Major League Baseball game

Why the Red Sox will win

1. Dynamite Twosomes: Manny Ramirez-David Ortiz (.305, 84 HR, 269 RBI) and Curt Schilling-Pedro Martinez (37 wins, 430 strikeouts) are the AL's top duos in their specialties. Any of those pairs can carry the team, and it's highly unlikely that all four will go flat.

2. Balance: These are not your daddy's Red Sox, those muscle-bound sluggers lacking in baseball's more subtle arts. This year's Red Sox have solid pitching at both ends of games, tight defense, and speed in reserve.

3. All for one: Boston has a deep roster, and Terry Francona uses all the pieces. We were tipped off to the talent level during Boston's fiery start minus two injured starters (Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon).

Achilles heel: Contact. Red Sox hitters led the league in strikeouts (1,189), and so did Anaheim pitchers (1,161). That can be an arresting combination, especially in some of the twilight conditions resulting from postseason scheduling.

Darkhorse player: Doug Mientkiewicz. The former Minnesota starting first baseman has had to accept a backup role in Boston. But he has playoff experience, and a good history against the Angels' playoff rotation (.348 lifetime average).

Why the Angels will win

1. The Vibe. Always featuring a pure team mentality anyway, Jose Guillen's exile has somehow fused the team even more. This is a collection of gamers absolutely without egos.

2. Vlad to meet you. Vladimir Guerrero, the top all-around individual talent in this postseason, will rise to his first opportunity to perform on the national stage.

3. Pen is mighty. The six-inning game is no longer a novelty. But the Angels perfect the concept, using a combination of Brandon Donnelly-to-Francisco Rodriguez-to-Troy Percival.

Achilles heel: Chorus line. Injuries and discipline have left the Angels depending on many stepping out of the crowd into the limelight. Can Alfredo Amezaga, Adam Riggs and Jeff DaVanon keep stepping up as the light intensifies?

Darkhorse player: David Eckstein. Though hardly an unknown by now, he is still a dim bulb among all the marquee names. But look for the little guy to light a fire, especially with the chance to go up against the team that let him go on waivers three years ago.

Key Showdowns

1. Mike Myers vs. key left-handed hitters. Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad eat up closer Keith Foulke (9-for-21 combined), but are batting only .095 (2-for-21) against the former Mariner.

2. Johnny Damon vs. Jarrod Washburn. It doesn't take long to set the tone for a short series. The Boston leadoff hitter is 1-for-19 lifetime against the Angels' Game 1 starter.

Prediction: Angels, in 5.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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