The American League begins the Division Championship Series with two teams defying the odds and advancing. Heavily favored Boston fell to the AL West Champs San Francisco Seals, while the Baltimore Lords took out the higher seeded St. Louis Maroons. That sets up the next round of games, which begins today.
#4 SAN FRANCISCO SEALS v #1 PHILADELPHIA STARS
San Francisco is just happy to be here. Philadelphia expected to be here. The Seals advance to this series with a stunning 3-game sweep of the heavily favored Boston Beaneaters. The prize for accomplishing that feat? Face the team with best record in the entire world.
The Seals will try to ride the bat of George Forrest. Forrest had a career year, hitting .349 with 46 home runs. If the Seals have any chance of beating Philadelphia, Forrest must remain on a tear. They will also need big outputs from Billy Neagle and Vince Payton. Philadelphia bring their Big Three to the series, three men who provided more than 125 combined home runs and over 400 combined RBI's. Their superstar? Valerio Pizzaro, who led the team with 54 home runs and a .320 average. Otto Judd is no slouch, contributing a .319 average, while slugging 44 home runs.
If the Seals have one weakness, it's their pitching. Darron Becker is their ace, winning 14 games this past season with a 3.94 ERA. David Shin had a solid season as well, winning 13 games with an ERA a hair over 4.00. After that, it's anybody's guess. Philadelphia, on the other hand, arguably has one of the best starting rotations in the entire world. They are led by record breaker Bernie Alvarez, who had an amazing 25-4 record with a 2.49 ERA. As Bernie goes, so go the Stars. Cristobal Velazquez and Jorge Beltre both contributed with 16 wins a piece during the regular season. All three of the Stars' top starters are innings eaters who can dominate at any given time. Usually automatic closer Larry Hart added 30 saves out of 35 chances, with a 4.71 ERA. Hart wasn't as dominating as in past years, so the Seals have to take advantage if put in that situation.
The Seals have had a nice season, but it's time for Philadelphia to bring them back down to reality.
PHILADELPHIA IN 3 GAMES
#2 MONTREAL SHAMROCKS v #6 BALTIMORE LORDS
Baltimore advances after a thrilling game five win over St. Louis, they now face the Shamrocks of Montreal.
The Shamrocks proudly displayed the career season best of Boomer Brooks, who led the Shamrocks with 38 home runs and a .286 average. Erv Hines had a huge impact with Montreal after coming over in a trade from Boston, contributing a .352 average with 17 bombs. Montreal needs those two players to be hot for them to advance. Baltimore bring one of the best offenses to the playoffs, with Barry Broadhurst and Winston Ripken leading the way. They both earned averages over .300 and slugged 40+ home runs a piece. With Joaquin Martinez and Keith Lee also in that lineup, you can see exactly how nobody wants to face this team come playoff time.
Mark Post and his 21 victories lead the way for the Shamrocks. He's a complete ace who can turn up his game at any moment. Bruce Shea contributed with 5 victories since coming over from Boston, and Luther Alexander makes a solid #3 starter. The Lords have a solid rotation, with Lyle Coco leading the way with his 15 wins. Junior Cerveza, obtained from the Albuquerque Dukes earlier in the season, is an ace-quality pitcher. Look for Dave Perkins to have a solid series.
If there's one team who will continue their upset run, look for it to be the Lords.
BALTIMORE IN 5 GAMES
#4 HONOLULU ASAHIS v #1 TOLEDO MAUMEES
It looks like a mismatch on paper, but that's why they play the games. Honolulu sent the Tobacconists packing, as they advance to this round. Toledo is well rested, waiting anxiously for their next opponents.
The Asahis only hit a hair over .260 as a team. None of the Asahis' main offensive threats aren't household names, but they can definitely put the runs on the board. They are led by Chris Marte and his 45 home runs. Alex Bonilla contributed 32 home runs as well, but neither man was able to sport an average over .270. Toledo is led by Brian Nomura and David Ortiz, who each hit over 30 home runs a piece, while respectively knocking in 100 RBI's. For the Maumees to advance, they need their other hitters in their lineup, such as Chuck Romero and Corky Grant, to come through big-time at the plate.
Honolulu's Ed Karsay won 15 games this past season, earning him a spot on the all-star team. Javier Pineda and Damion Mitchell each won 14 games for the Asahis, and all three pitchers were able to pitch more than 200 innings a piece. All three need to pitch well, and long, for the Asahis to have a chance. Toledo was led by Bert Blair, his 20 wins, and his miniscule 2.63 ERA. Leon Haynes was his usual spectacular self, a 17-3 record and a 3.07 ERA. Gary Bell, with a 15-5 record and a 3.09 ERA, is your #3 starter? Now that's a deep rotation.
Toledo's rotation is just too much for Honolulu's offense to handle.
TOLEDO IN 4 GAMES
#2 AUSTIN SWING v #6 LOUISVILLE COLONELS
Austin is 1 for 5 in playoff appearances. Louisville is 3 for 4 in World Series WINS. Just how will this one go down?
Julian Jacquez is the one to fear in the Swing' lineup, as he belted 38 home runs and a .315 average. Dave Coleman and Midre Guerrero each blasted more than 35 home runs a piece in Austin's super potent lineup. The Colonels are led by Les Cloud and Julian Julio, two power hitting beasts who almost combine for 100 total home runs between the two. Veteran Ted Mercedes is no slouch, hitting .324 for the season with 30 home runs.
Austin has 4 guys in their starting rotation who earned 15 victories or more last season. Felipe Maradona is the team ace, winning 16 games with a 3.25 ERA. Their bullpen is the weakness, as only one player (Lloyd Carter) has an ERA under 4.00. Now, if you're a playoff fan, then these names should ring a bell. Bono Stone, Glenallen Clontz, Matthew Brown, and Erick Shannon. These guys make their living the playoffs for the Colonels. And they are back, once again.
Would you dare bet against Louisville in the playoffs? I sure won't.
LOUISVILLE IN 5 GAMES