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Five spots left, fifteen teams gone
2008-09-21 23:12
by Bob Timmermann

Au revoir, Toronto. You gave it a go, but ultimately the Rays and Red Sox were too much for you. The Yankees win in the House That Ruth Built and The City of New York Subsequently Rebuilt's Valedictory kept the Red Sox from clinching a spot and the Yankees from becoming the sixteenth team eliminated.

Monday will be a limited schedule in the majors, but it will see a  (borrowing from Vin Scully) shirttail tucked in. The 1/2 game differences in the NL West will be eliminated when the Dodgers idle at home while second place Arizona travels to the Mound City to take on the Cardinals. The AL East shirttail gets tucked in on Tuesday when the Rays play a doubleheader. The NL East shirttail gets the tucking treatment when the Mets play the Cubs and the Phillies are off. The AL Central and NL Central shirttails will only be tucked in if necessary.

Here are the magical numbers:

Division Leaders

  • Dodgers (NL West) - 5 (Dodgers lose and Diamondbacks win)
  • White Sox (AL Central) - 5 (White Sox and Twins win)
  • Rays (AL East) - 6 (Rays lose and Red Sox win. Tampa Bay just needs to finish in a tie to win the AL East because of a 10-8 series edge over Boston.)
  • Phillies (NL East) -  6 (Phillies win and Mets lose)

Wild card leaders

  • Red Sox - 1 (Red Sox win and Yankees win)
  • Mets - 6 (Mets lose and Brewers win)

Getting ready to check out

The Yankees will be eliminated Monday if Boston wins at home against Cleveland. St. Louis will be eliminated if they lose at home to Arizona and the Mets beat the Cubs at Shea.

There's No Place Like Home

The Angels will clinch home field advantage throughout the postseason with a combination of wins and losses by Tampa Bay that adds up to 5. Tampa Bay would get home field against the Angels in case the two finish with the same record. The team with the best record in the AL will get the option of picking which Division Series schedule to follow, one of which will start on October 1 and the other on October 2. The tentative schedule can be found here. The Angels are guaranteed to start the Division Series at home.

In the NL, the Cubs are guaranteed to start the Division Series at home and their magic number to clinch homefield for the LCS is 1 over the Phillies. The Cubs lost the season series to the Phillies 3-4.

Games to be Played if Necessary

Cubs at Houston, Detroit at White Sox, both on September 29. Oakland and Baltimore also could make up a game on September 25. These are looking less and less necessary, although the Twins could send the White Sox season into an extra day if they can sweep Chicago in a 3-game set in Minneapolis starting Tuesday night.

The Race to #30

The standings:

Seattle 57 98    .367
Washington 58 98 1/2 .370
San Diego 61 95 3 1/2 .391

Remaining games left:

  • Washington (6) -   3 vs Florida, 3 at Philadelphia
  • San Diego (6) -  3 at Los Angeles, 3 vs Pittsburgh
  • Seattle (7) -    4 vs Los Angeles, 3 vs Oakland

San Diego swept its three-game series in Washington to put themselves in a situation where they almost have to lose out to have a chance at the worst. The Mariners have lost 11 straight games. The Nats have the misfortune of playing teams that can't afford to lose, although it's possible the Phillies may have clinched a playoff spot by the final series.

Monday's Games of Note

Atlanta (Jurrjens) at Philadelphia (Happ), Chicago (Marquis) at New York (Niese), Arizona (Webb) at St. Louis (Wellemeyer), Tampa Bay (Price) at Baltimore (Bass), Cleveland (Jackson) at Boston (Beckett). Kansas City is playing at Detroit and I'm game to watch it if there's nothing else on.

Contenders Schedules

  • Tampa Bay (8) -  4 at Baltimore (includes doubleheader Tuesday), 4 at Detroit
  • Boston (7) -  4 vs Cleveland, 3 vs New York
  • New York (6) -  3 at Toronto, 3 at Boston
  • Chicago White Sox (7) -  3 at Minnesota, 3 vs Cleveland, 1 vs Detroit if needed
  • Minnesota (6) -  3 vs Chicago, 3 vs Kansas City
  • Philadelphia (6) -   3 vs Atlanta, 3 vs Washington
  • New York (7) -   4 vs Chicago, 3 vs Florida
  • Milwaukee (6) -   3 vs Pittsburgh, 3 vs Chicago
  • Los Angeles (6) -   3 vs San Diego, 3 at San Francisco
  • Arizona (7) -   4 at St. Louis, 3 vs Colorado

Teams Frozen In Place

  • Los Angels Angels (1st in AL West)
  • Seattle (4th in AL West)
  • Baltimore (5th in AL East)
  • Atlanta (4th in NL East)
  • Washington (5th in NL East)
  • Chicago (1st in NL Central)
  • Cincinnati (4th in NL Central)
  • Pittsburgh (5th in NL Central)
  • San Diego (5th in NL West)
2008-09-22 08:19:06
1.   scareduck
Like the season, the last sentence of the second paragraph is incomplete.
2008-09-22 09:35:13
2.   Ali Nagib
So the LCS tiebreaker would go to Philly in the unlikely event that the Cubs and Phils both end up with 94 wins, despite the Cubs having 1 fewer loss? I know they won't make up the Cubs-Houston game for something like this, but I didn't know how they treated it for tiebreaking purposes. (I'm sure this will all be rendered moot soon)
2008-09-22 10:13:40
3.   Bob Timmermann
MLB used to say that they would make teams play out all the games for homefield, but they have backed off that stance recently. If the Cubs lead the Phillies by 1/2 game after Sunday, I don't think the Cubs will go to Houston.

Unless of course Houston is within a 1/2 game of the wild card.

2008-09-22 10:53:25
4.   Ali Nagib
3 - It's actually not possible for the Cubs to lead the Phils by half a game (ie, both teams have 94 wins after Sunday) and also have the Astros within half a game. If the Cubs lose their next 7, the Mets have to win 4, which gets them to 90, eliminating the Astros regardless of any make-up games.
2008-09-22 11:00:27
5.   Bob Timmermann
There's only so much math I'm willing to do.

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