Sunday's showdowns, will playoff tickets finally be punched? (September 17)
by Bob Timmermann
Just three Sundays left in the regular season and there are 16 games scheduled for today. Both New York teams can clinch playoff spots today, the NL West and wild card could change hands, and another team is likely to be eliminated.
First of all both the Mets and Yankees now have the best records in their respective leagues at 90-57. The Mets will try again to pick up the division clincher against Pittsburgh at PNC Park at 10:35 am PT (John Maine vs. Zach Duke). If the Mets don't win, they can clinch if the Phillies lose at Houston in an 11:05 am PT game (Randy Wolf vs. Wandy Rodriguez). The Mets magic number is 1 with a lead of 14 1/2 games. The Mets could also clinch the division if San Diego or Los Angeles loses three more games.
The Yankees will need to hit the trifecta to clinch the AL East. The Yankees lead Boston by 11 1/2 and Toronto by 12 1/2 and have a magic number of 6. The Yankees would need three events to happen for them to clinch:
1) win the day game of the doubleheader two game thingee at Yankee Stadium against Boston at 10:05 am PT (Kyle Snyder vs. Jaret Wright).
2) the Blue Jays would have to lose at home to Tampa Bay in a game starting at 10:07 am PT (Brian Stokes vs. Gustavo Chacin). The Devil Rays have lost 27 of their last 29 road games.
3) win the night game of the doubleheader two game thingee at 5:05 pm PT (Kevin Jarvis vs. Mike Mussina).
If all three events don't break right, the Yankees may have to wait until Monday's game at Toronto to clinch.
The Tigers had either split or lost their last eight series, but they've clinched this one against Baltimore and have kept their lead over the Twins in the Central at two games and have a magic number of 13. The Tigers host Baltimore at 10:05 am PT (Daniel Cabrera vs. Wilfredo Ledezma).
Second place Minnesota plays its final game of the season against Cleveland at Jacobs Field at 10:05 am PT (Scott Baker vs. Paul Byrd). The Twins lead the White Sox by three games in the wild card race and have a magic number of 12 to make the playoffs.
The defending world champs play at West-leading Oakland at 1:05 pm PT (Jose Contreras vs. Joe Blanton). Oakland leads the Angels by six games and has a magic number of 9. The Angels will play at Texas at 11:05 am PT (Ervin Santana vs. Vicente Padilla).
In the NL West, the division leader Los Angeles could fall into the wild card if the Dodgers lose at home to San Diego in a 1:10 pm PT game at Dodger Stadium (Chris Young vs. Derek Lowe). The Dodgers have alternated wins and losses in their last 11 games dating back to September 3. The stretch started with a loss at Milwaukee. San Diego leads Philadelphia by 1 1/2 games in the wild card race.
St. Louis appears determined to win the NL Central by default. The Cardinals lead the Reds by 6 1/2 games and have a magic number of 9. The Cardinals play host to San Francisco, which is clinging for playoff life at 3 1/2 games behind the Padres. The game starts at 11:15 am PT (Jonathan Sanchez vs. Jeff Weaver). The Marlins are also 3 1/2 games behind the Padres and they are at Atlanta at 10:05 am PT (Ricky Nolasco vs. Tim Hudson).
They will also play (weather permitting):
Milwaukee at Washington - The Nats will be eliminated with a loss or a win by either San Diego or Philadelphia.
Seattle at Kansas City - The Royals play only playoff contenders after this: Angels, Tigers, Twins, and Tigers again.
Cincinnati at Chicago - Carlos Zambrano returns for reasons that are not entirely clear to anyone.
Colorado at Arizona - The DBacks have 10 games left against Los Angeles and San Diego.