The Tampa Bay Rays are in the series for the first time in the history of their franchise and the Phillies haven’t been since 1993 when Toronto’s Joe Carter ended it in game six with a walk-off homerun. Both teams are fundamentally sound and bring their own unique brand of play to Major League Baseball’s biggest stage.
The Rays are ahead of Philadelphia in post-season batting average (.268/.259), slugging percentage (.508/.431) and runs scored (64/40). By looking at the stats you’d want to give the offensive advantage to Tampa Bay but the Phillies have Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell all of whom have a big bat and can change the game in one swing.
Advantage: Tampa Bay
There isn’t much that separates these two staffs. Since the beginning of the playoffs the Phillies have the advantage in ERA (3.19/3.52) and the Rays have the edge in strikeouts (85/74) but the two teams are dead even in WHIP (WHIP stands for walks + hits divided by innings pitched) at 1.32. What is ironic is that pitching may have already settled the series. Tampa Bay’s Scott Kazmir was the winning pitcher of the All-Star Game that awarded home field advantage to the American League while the Phillies Brad Lidge was credited for the loss.
Both teams pride themselves on playing great defense. You could make the argument that Tampa’s defense was the reason that the Rays lost games 5 and 6 of the ALCS but you could also argue that it was Boston’s incredible knack for pulling out post season wins. Tampa Bay has given up more runs in the post-season than Philadelphia has (41/29) and that is the most telling stat of all.
We’ve waited all season for Tampa Bay to fold. At first we thought that they wouldn’t be able to hang around until the All-Star break. Then after the break we just knew that they would fold. When it was evident that they were bound for the post-season we thought it would be as the Wild Card and not a division champion. In their first time to ever make the playoffs we thought that the White Sox would get them and then everyone (including me) thought that Boston was going to win Game 7 of the ALCS. This is clearly a team of destiny and they aren’t going anywhere.
Prediction: Tampa Bay in 6