Thursday could have seen two divisions change leaders and both wild cards change hands. In the end, the division leaders all stayed the same and the only change in the wild card was in the NL where the Phillies dropped back a 1/2 game because they were idle.
But today, everybody is in action. It's the penultimate weekend of the regular season. Just two playoff spots are sewn up, but it's possible that by the time the weekend is over, four more could be wrapped up with just the Andy Ashby Division up for grabs (the NL West/wild card competition).
Oakland can wrap up the AL West championship by Saturday if they can win their next two games at home against the Angels. They lead the Angels by seven games and have a magic number of 4. The game starts at 7:05 pm PT (Jered Weaver vs. Barry Zito). The Angels have seven games left with Oakland and pretty much have to win them all.
St. Louis has a 6 1/2 game lead over both Cincinnati and Houston in the Central and a magic number of 5. The Cardinals are at Houston at 4:05 pm PT (Jason Marquis vs. Jason Hirsh). The Astros harbor dreams of a sweep and are planning to bring Roger Clemens on three days rest on Sunday. This coincidentally is the Astros last home game. Hmm....
In the AL Central, Detroit leads Minnesota by 1/2 game and have a magic number of 4 to make the playoffs while the Twins have a magic number of 5. Detroit plays at Kansas City at 5:10 pm PT (Wil Ledezma vs. Luke Hudson). The Twins play at Baltimore at 4:10 pm PT (Carlos Silva vs. Daniel Cabrera).
In the Andy Ashby Division, San Diego leads Los Angeles by 1/2 game in the West and the Dodgers lead the Phillies by 1/2 in the wild card. Philadelphia will play first at 4:05 pm PT at home against Florida (Ricky Nolasco vs. Cole Hamels). The Padres are next up at 7:05 pm PT at home against Pittsburgh (Tom Gorzelanny vs. Chris Young). The Dodgers play the last game of the day at 7:40 pm PT at home against Arizona (Claudio Vargas vs. Derek Lowe). The Cardinals also lead San Diego by 1/2 game for the #2 slot in the NL. The two teams meet next week in St. Louis for three games.
They will also play:
Boston at Toronto - Toronto is eliminated if Minnesota wins regardless of the outcome of this game. Boston is eliminated if they lose and Minnesota wins.
Chicago at Cincinnati - If the Reds can finish second, they get a tiny slice of playoff money.
Washington at New York - The Mets will try playing this game with their underwear worn backwards to see what it feels like. For starters, it's much harder to go to the bathroom.
New York at Tampa Bay - The Yankees have a magic number of 8 to clinch home field all the way through the end of the season.
Atlanta at Colorado - The only way the Rockies can make the playoffs now is to force a five-way tie for first in the NL West. They have to win nine straight, the Padres have to lose ten straight, the Dodgers have to lose nine straight, the Giants have to go 5-5 with 3 wins against L.A. and 2 against Arizona, and the Diamondbacks have to go 9-1 with the only loss coming against San Francisco.
San Francisco at Milwaukee - The Rockies need the Brewers to win! Or did you stop reading the last paragraph?
Cleveland at Texas - Cleveland will finish fourth. The Rangers have a slight chance of finishing second, but more easily could finish fourth. So they will likely finish third.
Seattle at Chicago - Time for everyone to see Ryan Feierabend as a starter for the first time. You have to figure out who he plays for.