Everybody is back in action for the weekend and today we could see one team swap a yellow jersey for a checkered jersey and another team could give up its checkered jersey. And another team could be eliminated from playoff contention. Corrections in bold
A pair of division leaders matchup Friday. NL East leading New York, leading Philadelphia by 16 1/2 games with a magic number of 7, host Los Angeles at 4:10 pm PT (Hong-Chih Kuo vs. John Maine). The Dodgers lead in the West has shrunk to just 1/2 game over San Diego and they call from the lead in the West to the wild card with a loss and a win by the Padres. San Diego plays at San Francisco in the last game of the night at 7:15 pm PT (Jake Peavy vs. Matt Cain).
The other two principal wild card contenders, Philadelphia and Florida face off again at Dolphins Stadium at 4:35 pm PT (Jamie Moyer vs. Scott Olsen). After getting a no-hitter from Anibal Sanchez Wednesday, six Marlins pitchers combined to hold the Phillies to 17 hits and 14 runs Thursday night.
The Cardinals lead the Central by 6 1/2 games over Cincinnati and now have a magic number of 17. The Cardinals play at Arizona at 6:40 pm PT (Anthony Reyes vs. Livan Hernandez). Arizona has lost 16 of its last 20 games.
Over in the American League, Central leader Detroit plays at wild card leader Minnesota at 5:10 pm PT (Wil Ledezma vs. Matt Garza). The Tigers lead the Central by five games with a magic number of 18. The White Sox are just 1/2 game back of the Twins and host Cleveland at 5:35 pm PT (Paul Byrd vs. Freddy Garcia).
In the East, the Yankees are comfortably ahead of the Red Sox by nine games and have a magic number of 15. New York is at Baltimore with a chance to adminster the coup de grace to the Orioles microscopic playoff hopes in a 4:05 pm PT game (Corey Lidle vs. Erik Bedard). The Orioles would be eliminated from the AL East race if they lose to the Yankees, but would still on hold to a sliver of hope in the wild card if the Twins and White Sox win.
Oakland has a 5 1/2 game lead in the West over the Angels and have a magic number of 18. Oakland plays at Tampa Bay at 4:15 pm PT (Dan Haren vs. James Shields). The Angels are home to Toronto at 7:05 pm PT (A.J. Burnett vs. Joe Saunders).
They will also play:
Chicago at Atlanta - The Braves streak of divsional titles is almost over
Kansas City at Boston - Royals trying to take advantage of soft spot in schedule
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - With NFL season underway, Pirates games are now covered in the local media by high school interns trying to pad their college applications
Houston at Milwaukee - The Astros won the NL pennant last year. They really did.
Washington at Colorado - Jeff Salazar of the Rockies started his major league career with a sac fly, 2 singles, and an intentional walk. He is obviously the best hitter in the majors.
Texas at Seattle - The Mariners start a stretch of 20 straight games without a day off. I don't have 20 witty one-liners prepared for the Mariners.