Just nine games scheduled today and three of the eight teams occupying playoff spots are off today.
There was some moving around in the standings but no playoff pairings were affected. The Yankees passed up Detroit for the best record in the AL and the Dodgers edged past the Cardinals for second best record in the NL. And the Cubs became the first NL team to be eliminated from playoff contention.
The Yankees now sport an 85-56 record, 1/2 game better than Detroit. The East leaders have a 10 game cushion on the Red Sox and have a magic number of 11. New York is at Baltimore at 4:05 pm PT (Randy Johnson vs. Kris Benson). The Yankees have a good chance of clinching the division next weekend against the Yankees Red Sox. The Yankees have not won the division clincher against Boston since 2005. Well, actually they clinched then when Cleveland lost to Chicago, but it makes for a nicer story this way.
Detroit is idle and the Tigers could use the day off. The Tigers dropped three of four to the Twins in Minneapolis and saw their lead in the Central shrink to two games. The White Sox are 3 1/2 games back.
The Twins, presently in the wild card spot, are at home to West leading Oakland at 5:10 pm PT (Joe Blanton vs. Carlos Silva). Oakland leads the Angels by 5 1/2 games and has a magic number of 18 and trails Detroit by three games for the #2 slot. The Angels will be at home to play the White Sox at 7:05 pm PT (Jose Contreras vs. John Lackey). The Angels are 6 1/2 games behind the Twins, although it's highly unlikely they would take the wild card without winning the division as they have seven games left with Oakland.
In the National League, the West leaders, Los Angeles, and the wild card leaders, San Diego, are both off. The Dodgers lead the Padres by 1 1/2 games. The Dodgers play at Chicago Tuesday while the Padres will be at Cincinnati in what will likely be the Reds last chance to stay in the playoff race.
Another team facing an almost must win situation is Houston, which will be at St. Louis in a 5:10 pm PT (Andy Pettitte vs. Chris Carpenter). The Cardinals lead the Reds by 4 1/2 games and the Astros by five. However, the Reds have no games left with the Cardinals, while the Astros are playing the first of seven remaining games (3 in St. Louis, 4 in Houston) against St. Louis. The Cardinals dropped three of four over the weekend in Arizona.
The Mets now have a magic number of four and a 16 1/2 game lead over the Phillies and Marlins in the East. They could clinch a spot in the playoffs as early as Wednesday. The Mets will play at Florida at 4:05 pm PT (Dave Williams vs. Anibal Sanchez). Anibal Sanchez? Hmm.... Why he's the next Bud Smith!
The Marlins are the only wild contender in action. The Padres lead Philadelphia, Florida, and San Francisco by 2 1/2 games. The Phillies will play at Atlanta Tuesday and the Giants will be home to Colorado Tuesday.
They will also play:
Chicago at Atlanta - The Braves refuse to go down easily after all these years
Milwaukee at Pittsburgh - A loss by the Pirates sends them to Davy Jones's locker. Presumably they can find a CD with a recording of "Daydream Believer" in it.
Washington at Arizona - The Nats swept the DBacks in DC over Labor Day. Frank Robinson and Bob Melvin wield their considerable managerial skills against each other. Much hilarity will ensue.
Toronto at Seattle - With the exception of three games in the final week against Detroit, the Blue Jays will play no games that anyone will care about much.