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Sweeps Dominate the Weekend

So much for parody. In the National League, half of the teams were mathematically alive until the last weekend of the season, but then both NLDS series were sweeps. At least the most mathematically probable sweep of the four match-ups, the Red Sox over the Angels, happened. For a team to sweep they pretty much dominate all facets of the game, so there's not too much to analyze. However, here are my two cents on how each of the sweeps happened:

Diamondbacks over Cubs - Some may try to twist this series into an example of how the Diamondbacks used timely hitting all year to win close games, but the reality of this series is that Arizona just out-slugged Chicago. They hit six home runs this series, an average of two a game. That's not too bad for a supposedly anemic offense that scratches and claws their way to wins with timely hitting. Whether the homers were a product of hot hitting or bad pitching is up for debate (my bet is that it was a combination), but once Ted Lilly slammed his glove to the ground in game two it was clear the Cubs were rattled, while the Diamondbacks were staying loose, yet focused. The series was over at that point.

Rockies over Phillies - In a clash between the two Cinderella stories, Colorado proved to be the hotter of the two teams. In game one, Jeff Francis stepped up and out-dueled Cole Hamels, then in game two Kaz Matsui stepped up, and game three featured an all-around great pitching effort that the Rockies just squeezed out. The Phillies did not play too badly; they just went against the one team hotter than them (and some curious pitching moves by Charlie Manuel did not help the team either).

Red Sox over Angels - The Red Sox were simply the better team on the field from the first pitch to the last. Josh Beckett was overwhelming in game one, and the heart of the Red Sox order proved to be too much in games two and three. Granted, the Angels did have significant injury concerns, and maybe they were significant enough to impact the outcome of this series. However, the Red Sox were so superior I wonder how much of a difference Gary Matthews Jr. in center field would have made.

As for the Yankees and Indians series, the Yankees are still in bad shape even after their victory tonight. C.C. Sabathia will go for the Indians if the series goes five games, and they had no chance against him in game one. Plus, the pressure of winning multiple must-win situations in New York with the manager's job on the line has to wear on the team some.