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They attack from all angles. That

  • 14 Jun
    The Boston Red Sox versus the Cleveland Indians?could have been a fabulous series, one featuring the best starting pitching in the American League against the best offense in the major leagues, with the whole irresistible force/immovable object thing. Instead, its going to be a really good series featuring the two best offenses in the league, two great, young shortstops, a couple Cy Young candidates, a lot more of David Ortiz and a whole lot more of Tito Francona.Here are five questions.How good is the Boston offense?The Red Sox scored the most runs in the major leagues, 33 more than the mile-high Rockies and 101 more than the Indians, who were second in the AL. The Blue Jays scored 127 more runs than the next-best team in the AL last year, but 101 is still a really big gap. Bostons OPS was .810, which was by far the highest in the league and 66 points higher than the league average. The Red Sox, for the second time in their history (1977 was the other season), had three players (Ortiz, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez) with 30 homers or more, and the same three drove in more than 110 runs, which made this the first season the Red Sox have had three 30-100 guys. But its more than that. Bostons offense is relentless. It can beat you so many ways: with power, speed and athleticism. There is danger from top to bottom, and in the middle of the order is Ortiz, who hit .458 with four home runs in six games against the Indians this year.What shape is Clevelands starting rotation in? Sadly, it is damaged. Carlos Carrasco, who has great stuff, will miss the postseason after he broke his right pinky when he was hit by a line drive. Danny Salazar, whom Indians closer Cody Allen calls the most gifted pitcher Ive ever been around, likely will miss this series because of a forearm injury. Ace Corey Kluber, a Cy Young candidate, suffered a mild quad strain on Sept. 26 and hasnt pitched since. He is scheduled to start Game 2. That leaves Trevor Bauer, who can be really good and can be erratic too, to start Game 1 in Cleveland. Josh Tomlin, who had a terrific stretch early but struggled some in the second half (5.59 ERA after the All-Star break), will start Game 3 in Boston. Meanwhile, the Boston rotation is about as good as it has been all year. Cy Young candidate?Rick Porcello, David Price and?Clay Buchholz?make a formidable first three.How good is Clevelands offense?It scored the second-most runs in the league -- quite a feat, given that outfielder Michael Brantley missed nearly the entire season because of a shoulder injury. Francona did a marvelous job mixing and matching in the outfield to find production. A good portion of the teams offense unexpectedly came from current third baseman Jose Ramirez, who, Francona said at midseason, saved us this year. The Indians have been led lately by their offense, which is extremely versatile. The No. 6 spot in the order, for instance, produced 92 RBIs, and the No. 8 spot produced 19 homers. Most teams have a leadoff guy and a No. 5 hitter;?Carlos Santana does both. He hit 19 homers out of the leadoff spot and 12 from the No. 5 hole, joining Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001 as the only players to hit at least 10 homers from both those spots in the same season. Thats the Indians. They attack from all angles. Thats why they won 94 games and why they never lost more than three in a row.Is there concern about Boston closer Craig Kimbrel?Just when the Boston bullpen got really good -- roughly when Koji Uehara came off the disabled list and started throwing that splitter for strikes and blowing hitters away at 89 mph -- Kimbrel started to labor. He walked six of the final 13 batters he faced in the regular season. He looked like he had no confidence, one scout said. Thats very unlike him. In the last 17 batters he faced, Kimbrel gave up six earned runs. His velocity is good, but the Red Sox will need his faith and belief to return if they are to win the series. As for the Indians, their bullpen is better than it has been all season, in part because of the Andrew Miller element. Wherever he is needed most, thats where he will pitch.How familiar are these two teams? Very familiar. Indians manager Tito Francona managed the Red Sox to two World Series titles. He managed, among others, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, who remain his close friends. One of Franconas best friends is his former pitching coach in Boston, John Farrell, who, of course, is the Red Sox manager. Thanks to a strong recommendation from Pedroia to Francona in the offseason, the Indians signed former Red Sox player?Mike Napoli as a free agent last winter. You will love him, Pedroia told Francona. Napoli hit 34 home runs, drove in 101 runs and became a team leader. The Indians wear T-shirts that say, Party At Napolis. This is going to be a great series, no matter what.Prediction: Red Sox in five. Custom Paul Molitor Jersey . Brad Jacobs and his Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., team took control of the game early. Custom Brewers Jersey China . Q: Team Canada announces their Olympic roster three weeks from today. Who is general manager Steve Yzerman watching? LeBrun: Over the last 48 hours, hes taken in the home-and-home between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche with Jamie Benn and Matt Duchene being the obvious targets. http://www.custombrewersjersey.com/ . -- There were a lot of firsts for the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. Cheap Brewers Jerseys .4 million title. Ryan Riess emerged with the title after a session in which he started behind, but used expert skill to gather the chips to his side amid the unpredictability of no-limit Texas Hold em. Riess put his final opponent Jay Farber all-in with an Ace-King. Wholesale Custom Brewers Shirts . -- The Missouri Tigers might not have a roster full of superstars. No. 15 TCU | No. 17 UCLA | Top 25No. 16: USCLast Season: 8-6?(6-3 Pac-12 South)The Trojans play the toughest schedule in the country. In addition to their Pac-12 South foes, they face the top three North teams in Washington, Stanford and Oregon. But the Trojans do have some serious talent, ranking in my top 10 at running back (Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II), receiver (JuJu Smith-Schuster), offensive line (Zach Banner) and secondary. They are underdogs against Alabama (+10), Stanford (+7), Washington (+7) and UCLA (+3). All four games are away from home, where USC is just 15 -- 13 the past four seasons.USCs chances to win each game 09.03 vs. Alabama (AT&T Stadium): 35.7% 09.10 vs.Utah State: 95.3% 09.17 @ Stanford: 52.5% 09.23 @ Utah: 70.8% 10.01 vs. Arizona State: 87.3% 10.08 vs. Colorado: 90.3% 10.15 @ Arizona: 67.0% 10.27 vs. Cal: 87.7% 11.05 vs. Oregon: 77.8%% 11.12 @ Washington:?45.0% 11.19 @ UCLA: 47.8% 11.26 vs. Notre Dame: 72.7%If the defensive line can mature quickly, USC actually could exceed expectations -- the Trojans are loaded everywhere else, but a brutal schedule has 9-3 looking like a good year. -- Kyle BonaguraWith the nations toughest schedule as a backdrop, the Trojans have to break in a new quarrterback and patch a decimated defensive line.dddddddddddd Their skill players are as good as any team in the country, but the road ahead is daunting. With so many questions, 8-4 seems likely. -- Kevin GemmellWith players like Adoree Jackson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and a slew of other playmakers that make other coaches drool, the Trojans will slog through the countrys toughest slate to a 9-3 finish. -- Chantel JenningsThe Trojans are talented yet again, but USC must break in a new quarterback to replace Cody Kessler, and it remains to be seen if Clay Helton is the coach wholl finally be able to maximize this programs potential. The schedule here is particularly challenging -- its the nations toughest -- so an 8-4 finish seems like a solid bet. -- David LombardiFew teams lay out so obviously as the Trojans. They are looking for a new quarterback, yes, but their fortunes this fall depend on a nearly completely rebuilt front seven on defense. If that crew exceeds exceptions, then USC could do much better than 8-4 against the nations toughest schedule. -- Ted MillerNo. 15 TCU | No. 17 UCLA | Top 25 ' ' '