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.