Phightin' Phils will rule

The Baltimore Sun

So you think you're surprised by the Tampa Bay Rays? How about Las Vegas?

The Rays opened the season as much as a 200-1 long shot to win the World Series. Now they're nearly 5-7 favorites.

Having said that, the Philadelphia Phillies will win this thing - but it won't be easy.

I picked Philadelphia over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, and frankly, that was a slam-dunk. The Dodgers were a one-man gang, and the Phillies had too much going for them to succumb to just Manny Ramirez.

The Rays might have demonstrated more offensive depth in the postseason, but who really believes B.J. Upton is going to keep this up? With just nine home runs in the regular season, Upton has seven homers in 11 postseason games. No way will that continue.

More an edge for Tampa Bay, I think, is the Rays' pitching. They have good left-handers in the bullpen plus starting lefty Scott Kazmir, who has given up just one home run to a left-handed batter all season.

For a Phillies team that generates its power from the left side, namely Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, this is not good news. But there are still three right-handers in the Rays' rotation, and the Phillies' left-handed power has yet to be fully realized in the playoffs.

The X-factor, however, is whether the Phillies' long layoff helps or hurts them and whether the Rays are energized or spent by their seven-game battle with the Boston Red Sox. I say the Rays have already won their World Series and they'll have very little left in the tank for the Phils.

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