Do you root for a team in New York? If so, your team is in. Congratulations! Do you root for a team in California? You may or may not be happy at the end of the day. Do you root for a team from Michigan or Minnesota? Well, you can start to breathe easier now. Do you root for a team from Illinois? Sorry. Missourians? Well, you know where you stand. Texans, Georgians, New Englanders, and the entire nation of Canada? Sorry.
The Mets have nothing left to do in the final two weeks except staying sharp and avoiding getting someone hurt. They've got the NL East and homefield advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs sewn up.
The Yankees clinched the AL East last night, but they lead the Tigers by just one game for the best record in the league. The Twins are 1 1/2 games back. The Yankees own the tiebreaker edge on the Tigers with a 5-2 record. If they finish tied with the Twins, then you have to go to the second tiebreaker since the teams split their six games, which is record in intradivision games, which would favor the Yankees.
There are 10 games scheduled for Thursday.
AL West leader Oakland gets things started at 12:35 pm PT at home against Cleveland (C.C. Sabathia vs. Rich Harden, yes THE Rich Harden). The Athletics lead the Angels by 6 1/2 games and have a magic number of 5.
The top two teams in the AL Central are both in action. The Twins (presently in the wild card spot) trail the Tigers by 1/2 game. Detroit plays a rainout makeup in Baltimore at 1:05 pm PT (Nate Robertson vs. Kris Benson). Minnesota, 1/2 game behind and the current wild card team, go for a sweep of a three-game series in Boston at 4:05 pm PT (Johan Santana vs. Josh Beckett). A Twins victory would serve to eliminate both Boston and Toronto at the same time.
NL Central leader St. Louis owns a seven-game lead over the Reds and a magic number of 5. The Cardinals play at Houston at 5:05 pm PT (Chris Carpenter vs. Andy Pettitte). With the Reds off, the Cardinals can only lower their magic number by one.
The NL West and wild card will be the races that will go down to the end it appears. The Padres lead the Dodgers by 1/2 game. The Dodgers in turn are tied with Philadelphia for the wild card.
The Phillies get the day off, but the Dodgers and Padres are both at it. San Diego is at home to face Arizona at 7:05 pm PT (Brandon Webb vs. Woody Williams). The Dodgers will try to avoid a sweep at home against the Pirates at 7:10 pm PT (Shane Youman vs. Chad Billingsley).
They will also play:
Florida at New York - Mets fans hope that Pedro Martinez is back in form. But they don't tend to worry or fret about things.
Seattle at Chicago - It's come to this, the defending World Champs just get a cheap one-line description for their game.
San Francisco at Milwaukee - And nobody noticed that I initially left this out.
Atlanta at Colorado - The Braves make their long-awaited first trip of the year to Colorado. The Cubs won't play in Denver until the last weekend of the season. Oh boy.