The Sim Says Tougher Game for Rays in ALDS, But Still Favored
SOX, Game 2
Our Diamond Mind simulation showed the Tampa Bay Rays as heavy favorites (63.9%) to win game one (and the whole series), and the Rays did not disappoint, winning 6-4. After doing 1,000 simulation runs of game two, the Rays are favored again, though not as heavily - the Rays won 555 of the 1,000 runs of "The Sim," as we reverently call it. The average run differential was also much lower - the Rays averaged 4.2 runs in game 2, just as they did in our simulations of game 1, but the Chicago White Sox average 3.8 runs in game 2, compared to just 3.3 runs in game 1. That's a run differential less than half.
Keys to the Game: The Sim runs show the Rays getting a solid start from starter Scott Kazmir (pictured), while the White Sox are also likely to get decent results from starter Mark Buehrle. But Kazmir does much better at home in Tropicana Field, so the Rays appear to have an advantage there. No hitters on either team stood out as particularly likely to have a big night, though Konerko (again) and Dye look most likely for Chicago. Most importantly, watch the bullpens. If Kazmir and Buehrle are solid, as projected, it'll come down to the pens. While we show the Rays with the edge in this game, the Rays bullpen shows a high enough probability of a blow-up to create concern for the Tampa faithful, especially if their control is off - The Sim shows, on average, a high number of walks from the Rays' bullpen.
Intangibles: Tampa first baseman Carlos Pena left game one with an injury, and an odd one at that - blurred vision. He says he'll be ready for game 2, but "blurred vision" doesn't sound good. If he can't play or is ineffective, it could have an impact on the results. Hmmm... maybe we'll do another run of The Sim without Pena in the line-up.
In case you were wondering, the Tampa victory in game one dramatically increases their odds of winning the whole series, which were already high. The Sim gave the Rays a 64% chance of winning the series before it started, and that's up to 76.8% now, with a 27.5% chance of sweeping and a 57.4% of taking it in 4 games or less.