No manager ordered fewer intentional walks this year than Mike
Scioscia of the Angels. While Barry Bonds presents a challenge to
that philosophy in the World Series, Scioscia is likely to have
his pitchers attack Giants hitters because his bullpen is so
good--righthanders Troy Percival, Ben Weber, Brendan Donnelly and
Francisco Rodriguez are effective against lefthanded batters as
well as righties--that he doesn't obsess about creating matchups.
The Series is must-see TV just to catch the 20-year-old Rodriguez
challenge Bonds with his hard, nasty stuff in an update on the
Bob Welch-Reggie Jackson smackdown of 1978.
The Angels, who play National League-style baseball, won't be
hamstrung without the DH for the middle games of the series in
San Francisco. However, except for lefthander Jarrod Washburn,
who has enough deception in his delivery to fluster San
Francisco, Anaheim's starting pitching will be pressed to stifle
a lineup made more potent by Rich Aurilia's rejuvenated power
stroke and Benito Santiago's hot bat. Anaheim will lean on its
bullpen and pesky offense to win games late.
The first all-wild-card World Series has the makings of a
seven-game stress test. Home teams are 7-0 in Game 7s over the
past 20 years, a trend that portends a world championship for the
Angels. --Tom Verducci