It's time for Septemberr baseball. Time for expanded rosters. Time for Tony La Russa to use nine pitchers in an attempt to get four outs. Time for guys you've never heard of coming in to pinch run in the late innings. It's the time for the pennant races.
With one month to go (and a game on October 1), there is only one team completely out of it: Kansas City, although Tampa Bay isn't long for the pennant race.
The best record in the majors is in New York and resides in Flushing where the NL East leading Mets are 82-50, a .623 percentage. The Mets lead the Phillies by 15 1/2 games and have a magic number of 15, the only team in the majors to have one under 20.
Two teams have magic numbers of 22, the AL East leading Yankees and the AL West leading Athletics. The Yankees lead Boston by 8 and the Athletics lead the Angels by 7 1/2.
The next closest teams to punching a ticket for the postseason lead the Central divisions. Both Detroit and St. Louis have magic numbers of 25. The Tigers, who have the best record in the AL, lead the White Sox by 4 1/2 games and the Twins by 5. The Cardinals now have a 5 game lead over the Reds, who have lost six straight.
The Dodgers have a magic number of 27 in the West. They lead the Padres by three games.
The wild cards are tight races. The White Sox lead the Twins by 1/2 game for the AL wild card. The Padres lead the Phillies by one game and the Reds by 1 1/2 games. The Astros and Marlins lurk 2 1/2 games back.
September 1 opens with a full slate of 16 games.
Detroit hosts the Angels at 4:05 pm PT (Ervin Santana vs. Kenny Rogers). The Yankees host the Twins at the same time (Carlos Silva vs. Corey Lidle). Also Philadelphia is at Atlanta (Jon Lieber vs. Oscar Villareal). Villareal has a 9-1 record, don't be taken in.
Next up, the Marlins, who had a nine-game winning streak end with two straight losses in St. Louis, plays at Milwaukee at 5:05 pm PT (Anibal Sanchez vs. Chris Capuano). The Brewers have lost seven straight games. The Mets play at Houston at 5:05 pm PT as well (Tom Glavine vs. Wandy Rodriguez). The Astros have won six straight.
The White Sox will be at Kansas City at 5:10 pm PT (Jose Contreras vs. Runelvys Hernandez). St. Louis hosts Pittsburgh at the same time (Zach Duke vs. Chris Carpenter).
Heading out to the West Coast are two games at 7:05 pm PT. Baltimore is at Oakland (Erik Bedard vs. Joe Blanton). Cincinnati plays San Diego for the first time this season (Bronson Arroyo vs. Clay Hensley).
Finally, the Dodgers will host Colorado at 7:40 pm PT (Jason Jennings vs. Derek Lowe).
They also will play:
San Francisco at Chicago - It's afternoon in America!
Arizona at Washington - These two teams also are meeting for the first time too.
Toronto at Boston - The Red Sox are happy to see that it's September.
Seattle at Tampa Bay - The Devil Rays are the next team on the elimination chopping block.
Cleveland at Texas - Vicente Padilla out to spread cheer I'm sure.