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ALDS 2021 GameThreads: Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros; Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

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It’s ALDS time! White Sox at Astros at 4:07 PM ET; Red Sox at Rays at 8:07 PM. Enjoy your postseason baseball action.

Dusty Baker has taken five different teams to the postseason, and as MLB.com’s writer Brian McTaggart noted this week, “he became the only one to win at least five division titles with five different clubs,” when his Houston Astros claimed the American League West crown, so how does he feel going into the ALDS matchup with the Chicago White Sox, which starts at 4:07 PM ET this afternoon in Minute Maid Park? Where is the veteran manager’s confidence-level?

“My confidence-level? We haven’t played a game yet,” Baker chided the reporter who asked.

“My confidence level is at full,” Baker continued. “It’s at the top. I mean, my confidence-level doesn’t come from me. It comes from above. I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. I was brought here for this, and we got a chance to do something great. We can’t worry about other people’s confidence-level. They didn’t pick us from the beginning. We’ve got to just go out and do our thing. These guys know how to do it. I know how to do it. I’m glad we’re opening up at home.”

White Sox’ skipper Tony LaRussa is back in the postseason for the first time since 2011. How have things changed from his last playoff run?

Are there still nerves at this point of the veteran manager’s career?

“That’s a better question than most people would think because the years,” LaRussa said in his press conference on Wednesday, “I can remember back at coaching with Jim Leyland and I was managing, we would ask ourselves every day from Spring Training, are you nervous? If the answer was no, then that’s when you didn’t care.

“So I’ve been nervous my whole career. One of the reasons, first game of Spring Training, first game of Opening Day, like right now, I’m nervous because I care. We care.”

At 8:07 PM ET in Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays start their own ALDS matchup two nights after the Sox beat New York’s Yankees in Fenway Park.

Red Sox’ skipper Alex Cora, whose club went 8-11 against the AL East division winners in the regular season, said he knows what his team is in for going up against the Rays.

“I know they’re really good,” Cora said.

“They have a great team. And coming into the season, a lot of people thought that they were the best team in the big leagues, but we feel we have a good team, and we’re here. We’ll show up. We’ll play and see where it takes us.”

Rays’ skipper Kevin Cash’s take on their AL East rival and ALDS opponent?

“A lot of back and forth,” Cash said of their regular season matchups.

“They’ve made some improvements and some adjustments to the roster. Certainly from the deadline getting [Austin] Davis and, obviously, Kyle Schwarber, and then you look at a guy like Tanner Houck that is back pitching in different roles, whether it’s starter or reliever. He is pretty tough, and [Ryan] Brasier is a guy they’ve leaned on in their bullpen pretty heavily. The bullpen appears — has shifted a little bit, rightfully so, because it seems like they’re all talented whenever they’re called upon.”

Cash and the Rays know what they’re in for going up against the Sox.

“That is pretty consistent any time you face the Boston Red Sox. When you are talking about [Xander] Bogaerts, [Rafael] Devers, and J.D. [Martinez], not sure what his status is, but the year that Hunter Renfroe has had and Kiké Hernández, and Schwarber being in. They have a young guy in [Bobby] Dalbec that kind of hovers in the back of their lineup that just has hit a bunch of home runs, so we’re going to have to pitch them very well.”

Enjoy your postseason baseball...