Monthly archives: September 2006
One (October 1)
They will also play:
21 down, 1 to go
The Philadelphia Phillies were eliminated from playoff contention when the Dodgers beat the Giants 4-2.
Philadelphia Phillies playoff hopes
Born: April 3, 2006
Even though Phillies GM Pat Gillick dumped one of his best players, Bobby Abreu, along with a serviceable starter, Cory Lidle, at the trade deadline, the Phillies still held on doggedly in the playoff race thanks to the hitting heroics of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
The Phillies were ultimately undone by a pitching staff that was not quite good enough to hang with San Diego and Los Angeles in the National League. Perhaps the perfect Phillies game this year was a 14-inning 8-7 win at Washington on Wednesday where the bullpen blew two saves and almost blew a third. The Phillies also played much of the year with one of the NL's worst offensive players, Abraham Nunez, starting at third base. But then again, Abraham Nunez wasn't David Bell.
There will be no visitation. In lieu of flowers, the Phillies request that you make donations to the Roger Maris's Family Fund for the Determination of Which Home Run Records are Acceptable.
7 in, 1 to go
It's a playoff berth!
The San Diego Padres clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 win at Arizona. The Padres are uncertain yet if this is a division championship or a wild card and will decide tomorrow.
Abbot Bruce Bochy celebrated the ceremony at Chase Field. A postseason honeymoon will start next week either in San Diego or New York.
6 in, 2 to go
It's a Playoff Berth
The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched a playoff spot with a 4-2 win over the Giants at San Francisco.
The Right Reverend Grady Little presided over the ceremony. The Dodgers have decided to keep their own name.
The team will begin its postseason honeymoon either in Los Angeles or New York next week.
20 down, 2 to go
The Cincinnati Reds were eliminated from playoff contention today when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 in St. Louis.
Cincinnati Reds 2006 Playoff Hopes
Not much was expected out of the Cincinnati Reds, but they stayed in the playoff race until the second to last day of the season thanks to the late season stumbles of the Cardinals. On August 24, the Reds were .0004 behind St. Louis for first place after a 6-3 win in San Francisco. Then they lost 10 of 12 games and were never able to get back into serious contention for a playoff spot.
Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky traded just about everybody. He would have traded Vada Pinson if he could. He tried to trade Harry Heilmann and Edd Roush, too. But he did succeed in trading Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez for a pair of Washington middle relievers, Bill Bray and Gary Majewski. Then there were a bunch of other pitchers added: Rheal Cormier, Scott Schoeneweis, Eddie Guardado, Sunny Kim, Jason Johnson, and possibly Joey Jay and Bob Purkey.
The ultimate cause of death was food poisoning from some tainted chili-like substance sold at Great America Ballpark. There will be no visitation. In lieu of flowers, please make donation to the Cincinnati Foundation for the prevention of Ken Griffey Injuries.
Saturday's day of decision (September 30)
Getting a jump on tomorrow's action...
The eight playoff teams could all be decided tomorrow. Or maybe just six of them. Or maybe just seven of them. Or maybe five of them. There are just two days left in the regular season. Or there may be three. Or there still could be four.
Here's the situation now:
The Phillies play at Florida at 10:25 am PT (Randy Wolf vs. Scott Olsen). The Phillies must win to stay alive. If they lose, BOTH the Dodgers and Padres advance.
San Diego and Los Angeles both get started at 1:10 pm PT. The Padres will be at Arizona (David Wells vs. Juan Cruz) This could be one of the greatest disparities in weights between starting pitchers ever. Wells is officially listed at 250 and Cruz is at 155. I'm thinking that Wells is a little above 250. The Dodgers play at San Francisco at 1:10 pm PT (Greg Maddux vs. Matt Cain). Greg Maddux had just finished his first year of pro ball at Pikeville in the Appalachian League a few weeks before Cain was born.
The Dodgers and Padres can both clinch playoff spots with a win. If the Padres win, the Dodgers lose, and the Phillies lose. The Padres would win the West, the Dodgers would be the wild card, and the Phillies would be out of it. If the Padres and Dodgers finish tied for first in the West and ahead of the Phillies, the Padres would be the divisional champ and get the #2 seed.
In the Central, the collapse of the St. Louis Cardinals and the rise of the Houston Astros was stopped by the fact that the Cardinals won and the Astros lost. Was that in the script?
The Cardinals lead the Astros by 1 1/2 games and the Reds by 2 1/2 games. The Cardinals can clinch no worse than a tie for the division if they can beat Milwaukee at 10:25 am PT in St. Louis. Ben Sheets will face Jeff Suppan.
The Astros play at Atlanta later in the day at 4:05 pm PT. Chris Sampson is the scheduled starter for Houston against Lance Cormier of Atlanta. Sampson started on Monday in Philadelphia and relieved in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The Astros would be eliminated if they lose and the Cardinals win.
Cincinnati is still alive, but could be eliminated by the time they start playing at Pittsburgh at 4:05 pm PT (Bronson Arroyo vs. Marty McLeary). The Reds will be done if they lose or if the Cardinals or Astros win. The Reds can only move on to the postseason if they get into a three-way tiebreaker with the Cardinals and Astros at 81-81. If such an event happened, it would require the Cardinals to first lose a makeup game at home against San Francisco on Monday, that would be followed by a game between the Cardinals and Astros in Houston on Tuesday and then the Reds would play the winner of that game in either St. Louis or Houston on Wednesday.
All that is left in the AL is to decide the AL Central champ. The Tigers and Twins are tied at 95-65. The Twins need to finish one game ahead to win the division as the Tigers won the season series. The Twins play bright and early at 9:10 am PT at home against the White Sox (Jon Garland vs. Matt Garza). The Tigers host the Royals at 4:05 pm PT (Ambiorix Burgos vs. Zach Miner). The Yankees are guaranteed the #1 spot and Oakland is the #3 team.
They will also play:
The AL Postseason will go through New York
The Yankees beat the Blue Jays 7-2 tonight while the Tigers lost at home to Kansas City 9-7 in 11 innings and the Twins lost at home to the White Sox 4-3 to clinch homefield advantage throughout the postseason for New York. The Yankees lead both the Tigers and Twins by two games with two left and hold tiebreaker edges over both of them.
Barrett plans returns for 2007
Cubs catcher Michael Barrett is still recovering from an operation to repair an intrascrotal hematoma. Barrett is looking for a bulletproof protective cup to wear next season.
Apparently such things are sold, although I haven't been able to find one. I would assume that the Army has a few of them.
Craig Kusick, 1948-2006
After playing in the majors for seven years, Kusick became a high school baseball coach in Rosemount, Minnesota. The Twins had a moment of silence for Kusick before yesterday's game.
Making up for lost games
Earlier I had written about the last time rained out games had to be made up after the end of the regular season.
I've been looking for more, but it's a rare occurrence.
Back in 1973, there were two rained out games made up on Monday, October 1 to help settle the NL East. The Mets had to win at least one of two scheduled games in a doubleheader at Wrigley Field to avoid a tiebreaker playoff. The Pirates played the Padres that day and needed to win that game and have the Mets get swept and force a three-way playoff among the Mets, Pirates, and Cardinals. They all would have been 81-81.
A whopping crowd of 1913 packed Wrigley Field to see the Mets win the first game 6-4 rendering all the other events of the day moot. The Pirates lost at home to the Padres before 2572 fans at Three Rivers Stadium.
Althought it wasn't a makeup for a rainout, the Cubs and Giants had to replay a tied game after the end of the regular season back in 1908. That was the makeup for the infamous "Fred Merkle" game of September 23, 1908, which went into the books as a 1-1 tie. The game was to be replayed only if it affected the championship. And on October 8, the Cubs and Giants were both 98-55. The Pirates were 98-56, but out of it. The Cubs wont that game 4-2.
In the American League in 1908, Detroit beat Cleveland by 1/2 game in the standings because American League practice did not require all rained out games to be made up. And when the season ended, Detroit was 90-63 and Cleveland was 90-64.
The 2007 Boston Red Sox presented by ...
Scott Van Voorhis of the Boston Herald reports that the Red Sox may sell the naming rights to their 2007 season.
The 2000 San Diego Padres season was sponsored by the Sycuan tribe. The 2005 Chicago Bears season was "presented by" Bank One (which is now Chase).
It's a good thing the Red Sox are looking for alternative revenue streams because there's a good chance that if people don't get behind that team, it may have to fold. I heard that Red Sox owner John Henry actually had to get his lunch from a Subway yesterday and that was only because he had a 2 for 1 coupon.
Friday's flounderings (September 29)
There are maybe three, four, or five days left in the regular season. This is the last Friday of the regular season. There is a tie atop one division, another division has its leaders separated by just 1/2 game, and one is separated by one game.
Although the AL Central is in a dead-even tie, it's the NL Central where tensions are highest. The Cardinals lead over the Astros has dwindled to just 1/2 game. The Astros have won nine straight while the Cardinals have lost eight of nine. Houston gets a jump on the action at 4:05 pm PT in Atlanta (Roger Clemens vs. Chuck James). St. Louis hosts Milwaukee at 5:10 pm PT (Chris Capuano vs. Jeff Weaver). As long as the Astros stay within 1/2 game of the Cardinals on either the plus or minus side, the Cardinals will be forced to make up a rained out game on Monday at home against the Giants.
In the NL West, San Diego leads Los Angeles by one game. San Diego plays at Arizona at 6:40 pm PT (Clay Hensley vs. Livan Hernandez). The Dodgers play their final weekend at San Francisco starting at 7:15 pm PT (Hong-Chih Kuo aka 郭泓志 aka Gūo Hóngzhì faces Noah Lowry). The Padres magic number to clinch the division is 3 and they can wrap up a playoff spot with a win or a loss by the Phillies. The Dodgers will clinch a playoff spot with a win AND a Phillies loss. The Phillies fell two games behind the Dodgers in the wild card race and play at Florida at 4:05 pm PT (Jamie Moyer vs. Brian Moehler).
The Reds, who are still alive with a record of 79-80, play at Pittsburgh at 4:05 pm PT (Aaron Harang vs. Zach Duke). The Reds would be eliminated with a loss and a win by either Houston or St. Louis.
The AL Central has Detroit and Minnesota in a 95-64 tie. Both teams trail the Yankees by one game for best record in the AL. The winner of the division would get homefield advantage over Oakland in the Division Series, the loser would be the wild card and start the division series in New York. Detroit holds the tiebreaker edge as they won the season series 11-8.
Detroit has the edge as they get to host the 100-loss Royals for the final weekend. They play at 4:05 pm PT (Runelvys Hernandez vs. Wil Ledezma). The Twins finish up at home against the White Sox. That game starts at 5:10 pm PT (Freddy Garcia vs. Boof Bonser).
They will also play:
In first at last?
The Minnesota Twins have, for the first time, at the end of the day, finished it in first place. The Twins beat Kansas City 2-1 in 10 innings while Detroit lost at home to Toronto 8-6. The Twins and Tigers are both 95-64. But the Tigers hold the tiebreaker edge as they won the season series over Minnesota 11-8.
The Tigers finish at home with three games against Kansas City (which lost game #100 tonight) while the Twins are at home against the White Sox.
If the Twins can finish first, they would break the AL record for fewest days in first by a champion. The 1967 Red Sox led for just 20 days. The 1951 NY Giants were in first for just three days before their playoff against the Dodgers.
Mets lose Pedro for playoffs
The New York Mets announced today that Pedro Martinez will be out for the playoffs after an examination turned up a torn tendon in his left calf muscle.
So long, Frank
It appears that Frank Robinson is down to his final days as manager of the Washington Nationals. Robinson will probably get a front office job and be named Excecutive Director for Crabbiness and High-handedness.
Hall of Fame releases new veterans ballot
The Baseball Hall of Fame has issued a ballot of 27 players as well as a 15-person "composite" ballot of owners, umpires, and other officials.
The players are: Dick Allen, Bobby Bonds, Ken Boyer, Rocky Colavito, Wes Ferrell, Curt Flood, Joe Gordon, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Mickey Lolich, Sparky Lyle, Marty Martion, Roger Maris, Carl Mays, Minnie Minoso, Thurman Munson, Don Newcombe, Lefty O'Doul, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Ron Santo, Luis Tiant, Joe Torre, Cecil Travis, Mickey Vernon, and Maury Wills.
The composite ballot consists of: Buzzie Bavasi, August Busch Jr., Harry Dalton, Charlie Finley, Doug Harvey, Whitey Herzog, Bowie Kuhn, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, Walter O'Malley, Gabe Paul, Paul Richards, Bill White, Dick Williams, and Phillip Wrigley.
To gain inducation, a candidate needs to gain 75% of the votes from the electors, who are the living members of the Hall of Fame plus recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award (for broadcasters) and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award (for writers). There are 84 men in that group (there is also one member of the old Veterans Committee who gets a vote because his term hadn't expired, John McHale.)
The previous two times this system had been used, no one was chosen. Gil Hodges and Ron Santo have come the closest. Joe Torre was nominated for his playing days, not his managing days, which are obviously ongoing.
Thursday's thingamajigs (September 28)
The last Thursday of the regular season beckons. 12 games are scheduled today and they start at 9:35 am PT and the last goes off at 7:05 pm PT. There will be a little less scoreboard watching in game today as the big games in the NL, where there are still three playoff spots up for grab, are starting at different times throughout the day.
The first big game of the day is at 9:35 am PT and it takes place in Pittsburgh, where Houston, winners of eight straight, tries to keep up its highly improbable, yet highly entertaining run at the Cardinals in the NL Central. Roy Oswalt goes for Houston against Tom Gorzelanny of Pittsburgh. The Astros have used 20 pitchers in their last three game, so Phil Garner would like to see Oswalt put in a lot of innings.
Up next at 12:05 pm PT is a game featuring the wild card leading Dodgers, ahead of Philadelphia by one game and trailing San Diego by one in the West, at Colorado. Brad Penny will pitch against Byung-Hyun Kim. The Dodgers have won 14 of 18 games against Colorado this year.
Although it's not a huge game, the Cincinnati Reds are teetering on the brink of elimination. The Reds really need a win at Florida in a 4:05 pm PT game to keep their hopes alive. Kyle Lohse will face Ricky Nolasco. Actually, the Reds could still lose and stay alive if the Cardinals lose. The Reds trail St. Louis by 3 1/2 games.
Also at 4:05 pm PT, the Phillies play the final game of their series at Washington. Jon Lieber will face Mike O'Connor. The Phillies won a wild 8-7, 14-inning game that featured two blown saves by the bullpen and almost a third.
Teams that can't change their place in the divisional standings are: Baltimore (4th, AL East), Tampa Bay (5th, AL East), White Sox (3rd, AL Central), Cleveland (4th, AL Central), Kansas City (5th, AL Central), Los Angeles of Anaheim (2nd, AL West), Philadelphia (2nd, NL East), Washington (5th, NL East), and Milwaukee (4th, NL Central).
Central leading St. Louis hosts Milwaukee at 5:10 pm PT. The Cardinals lead the Astros by 1 1/2 games and ended a seven-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Padres Wednesday. Doug Davis will start for the Brewers against Jason Marquis, who has managed to win 14 games despite an ERA of 5.80.
West leading San Diego starts its final series of the season, a four-game set in Arizona, at 6:40 pm PT. Jake Peavy will take on Miguel Batista. The Padres are 22-50 alltime at Chase Field/Bank One Ball Park. They are 3-3 there this season. Both San Diego and St. Louis have magic numbers of 4. If San Diego wins or St. Louis loses one more game, the #2 slot will be guaranteed to the NL West champion.
As for the American League, the spots are all set and there is just some minor jockeying for position. The Yankees lead the Tigers by one game for best record (which is effectively two games because of tiebreakers). The Tigers lead the Twins by one game (again effectively two games because the of tiebreakers) in the Central. Oakland will be the #3 team as they can't pass up Detroit.
They will also play:
Buck O'Neil update
The Ambassador of the Negro Leagues, Buck O'Neil, remains hospitalized in Kansas City, suffering from extreme fatigue. Doctors are still not sure what has caused the 94-year old O'Neil to feel so weak.
Fighters take first place in the Pacific League
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters finished in first place in the Pacific League for the first time since 1981 after beating the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 4-1 at the Sapporo Dome. The Fighters finished one game ahead of the Seibu Lions who beat the defending champion Chiba Lotte Marines 4-3 in 10 innings.
The Pacific League playoffs are scheduled to start on October 7. Second place Seibu and third place Softbank will meet that day for the first game of a best of three at the Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka. Game 2 and Game 3 (if necessary) will be played at the Invoice Seibu Dome in Tokorazawa.
The winner of that series will face the Fighters starting October 11. That will be a four-game series with the Fighters being spotted a win. Games 1 and 2 will be in Sapporo on October 11 and 12. Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) will be in either Fukuoka or Tokorazawa.
Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Michael Nakamura set a PL record in the Fighters win when he notched his 39th save of the season.
Wednesday's whirlwind of action (September 27)
The American League now has its full complement of playoff teams as Oakland clinched the AL West. All that's left is to sort out where New York, Detroit, and Minnesota will finish in seedings. In theory, Oakland could take the #1 slot if they win their last five games and the Yankees, Tigers, and Twins stumble in the final weekend. However, the Tigers play the Royals over the weekend, so Detroit could have the edge. Detroit and New York have the same record, but the Yankees hold the tiebreaker edge.
The NL suddenly has a new division, the Johnny Edwards. St. Louis has dropped seven straight games while Houston has won seven straight to cut the Cardinals lead to just 1 1/2 games. And the Reds are just 2 1/2 games back. The Cardinals have six games left with a potential makeup game against the Giants on Monday held in escrow. Houston and Cincinnati have five games left. The Cardinals magic number is five.
St. Louis plays the NL West leader San Diego at home at 5:10 pm PT (Chris Young vs. Anthony Reyes). Houston is at Pittsburgh at 4:05 pm PT (Jason Hirsh vs. Shawn Chacon). Cincinnati plays at Florida at 4:05 pm PT (Chris Michalak vs. Anibal Sanchez). If the Padres win, the #2 slot in the NL will be guaranteeed to either San Diego or Los Angeles.
With San Diego unlikely to squander a two game lead with five games to play, the NL wild card race looks to be the last great race. The Phillies trail the Dodgers by one game. Philadelphia plays at Washington at 4:05 pm PT (Cole Hamels vs. Pedro Astacio). Los Angeles plays at Colorado at 5:35 pm PT (Derek Lowe vs. Aaron Cook).
They will also play:
5 in, 3 to go
It's a Division Championship!
The Oakland Athletics clinched their first AL West championship since 2003 after defeating Seattle 12-3 while the Angels lost to the Rangers, 5-2.
Dr. Kenneth Macha presided over the ceremony. The happy team plans to start its postseason festivities in either
19 down, 3 to go
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were eliminated from the playoffs after losing to Texas combined with an Oakland win in Seattle.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2006 Playoff Hopes
The two-time defending AL West champs had hopes for three in a row, but a suspect pitching staff at the beginning of the season, which included an injured Bartolo Colon and the wrong Weaver brother, got them off to a bad start. The bullpen, aside from Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez, was a work in progress and only showed flashes of its steady performance from 2005.
But the Angels bigger problems were with hitting (which they didn't do very well) and fielding (which they didn't go very well either). While baseball pundits like to say "Pitching and defense win championships", keep in mind the meaning of "and" in Boolean logic.
The cause of death was Extreme Baserunning Aggression Syndrome, a condition characterized by a propensity for overusing the "contact play".
Visitation will be at Angel Stadium of Anaheim through October. In lieu of flowers, the team asks that you make donations to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.
18 down, 4 to go
The Florida Marlins were eliminated from playoff contention tonight after losing to Cincinnati 5-3.
Florida Marlins 2006 Playoff Hopes
The Marlins started the season like a house afire. That is they were in the house that was on fire and they were trying to get out. The Marlins started the season 11-31 with a lineup that consisted mainly of rookies or second year players making the major league minimum.
Then as the season progressed, the young pitchers, such as Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and Scott Olsen started to get things together. And young players like Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and Josh Willingham started to hit. Combine that with the good hitting of Miguel Cabrera and the Marlins got over .500 for a few days and toyed with the wild card.
But the Marlins didn't have quite enough to fend off the Phillies who started to win enough games to make the Marlin fan say, "Wait till some indeterminate time in the future...."
Complicating matters was a poisonous relationship that apparently developed between the Marlins front office, in particular owner Jeffery Loria and GM Larry Beinfest, and manager Joe Girardi. Loria didn't like Girardi after the manager told him to stop berating an umpire from the stands and Beinfest reportedly didn't like the way Girardi handled the pitching staff, which ran into injury problems. The Marlins good starting pitchers obscured the fact that the team has a mediocre bullpen and relied on Joe Borowski to be the closer.
Visitation will be at Dolphin Stadium from September 26-October 1. In lieu of flowers, the Marlins ask that you donate money to the Jeffrey Loria Foundation, which helps support people named Jeffrey Loria.
On the eve of destruction
The Barry McGuire teams today are:
1. Florida - The Marlins are eliminated if they lose to Cincinnati OR if the Phillies or Dodgers win.
The NL wild card race cannot end before Friday. The NL West race could be sewn up by the end of Wednesday. The NL Central race cannot end before Thursday.
Don't let those Devil Rays out!
Loyal reader, as determined by an oath adminstered by the Almagamated Transcontinental Association of Baseball Bloggers, Saddlemakers, and Sous Chefs, Diane Firstman has passed along from her blog Diamonds are for Humor, that the Tampa Devil Rays have a chance to be the first team since World War II to have a winning record at home (they finished 41-40) and play under .250 ball on the road.
Tampa Bay is 19-56 on the road and play 3 games each in Boston and Cleveland. Since Canada Day, the Devil Rays are 2-24 on the road.
This one might go to 111
Alan Schwarz of the New York Times has a profile of a man believed to be the oldest professional baseball ever, Si Simmons, who is 110 years old (he turns 111 next month). Simmons played in the Negro Leagues from 1912 through 1929.
My parents were born in 1929. My parents have passed on. Simmons played for the Homestead Grays. In 1913. My grandmother was nine then.
Thanks to Johnny Nucleo for the pointer.
Japan pennant race update 9/26
The Seibu Lions had ace Daisuke Matsuzaka going against the fourth place Chiba Lottle Marines Tuesday night, but the Marines jumped on him four runs in the third inning and won 6-2 at the Invoice Seibu Dome. That loss left the door open for the Nippon Ham Fighters to take over first place and they did. The Fighters did as three pitchers combined on a 4-hit shutout over the Softbank Hawks 8-0 at the Sapporo Dome.
The Fighters now lead by one game with one game left in an attempt to get the top spot and bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks are now guaranteed third place. The Fighters will finish first with a win or a loss by the Lions. The Lions and Fighters play their last regular season games tonight. The Hawks have an additional game on 9/29.
The Pacific League playoffs will not start until 10/7.
In the other league:
The Dragons have 16 games left and the Tigers have 11.
Tuesday's toilings (September 26)
The Minnesota Twins became the fourth team to clinch a playoff spot and the third from the AL. Oakland will try for the fourth straight day to clinch a playoff spot. The NL pennant races aren't decided except for the Mets, who are just watching in glee as their potential playoff competitors flail about. 17 teams overall have no chance at the playoffs. 4 teams have clinched playoff spots. There are 9 teams left playing for four spots: Oakland, Los Angeles of Anaheim, Philadelphia, Florida, St. Louis, Houston, Cincinnati, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
In the NL, the Central leader and the West leader, St. Louis and San Diego play the second game of their series at Busch Stadium at 5:10 pm PT (Woody Williams vs. Chris Carpenter). Both teams have magic numbers of 5. The Padres lead the Dodgers by 2 games and the Cardinals lead the Astros by 2 1/2 games.
The Dodgers and Phillies are now tied for the wild card. Both teams are on the road against the last place teams in their divisions. Philadelphia will be at Washington at 4:05 pm PT (Brett Myers vs. Ramon Ortiz). The Dodgers are at Colorado at 5:35 pm PT (Greg Maddux vs. Jason Jennings).
Houston, which has won 6 straight, while St. Louis has lost 6 straight, plays at Pittsburgh at 5:10 pm PT (Andy Pettitte vs. Ian Snell) in an attempt to keep its improbable quest to catch the Cardinals in the Central.
Oakland leads the Angels by five games with six left to play and has a magic number of 2. Oakland tries again to clinch the AL West at Seattle at 7:05 pm PT (Rich Harden vs. Jake Woods). The Athletics also need the Angels to lose at home to Texas in a 7:05 pm PT start (Robinson Tejeda vs. Kelvim Escobar).
They will also play:
17 down, 5 to go
The San Francisco Giants were eliminated from playoff contention tonight when they lost to Arizona at home 7-1, giving them 81 losses for the season and unable to catch wild card leaders Philadelphia and Los Angeles who have 82 wins.
San Francisco Giants 2006 Playoff Hopes
The 2006 Giants were one of the oldest teams in the majors and at times featured an outfield where each player was 40 years old or over (Barry Bonds, Steve Finley, and Moises Alou). Then there was the case of 38-year old shorstop Omar Vizquel and 38-year old reliever Mike Stanton.
But the old guys, with the exception of Finley, all played pretty well. Bonds, whom people thought would either be through or have to take a leave of absence because he was indicted, put together a solid year with an OPS over 1.000 again. And Bonds broke Hank Aaron's career mark for NL home runs.
However, there was the problem with the pitching staff. 21-year old Matt Cain brought hope. 32-year old Jason Schmidt was solid. And other than that, the pitching was pretty awful. Free agent Matt Morris has an ERA of 5.09. And it gets worse after that.
The cause of death was listed as Sabeangeria, a disease marked by the rapid aging of the a team's roster.
Visitation will be at AT&T Park from September 25-October 1. In lieu of flowers, the Giants ask that you make a donation to the Society for the Prevention of Leaking of Federal Grand Jury Testimony or the Sal Yvars Telescope Collectors Association.
Put me in coach, I'm ready to pitch ... tonight
In Houston's 5-4 win over Philadelphia tonight, the Astros used nine pitchers and the Phillies used seven pitchers.
The nine pitchers in a nine-inning game tied the NL record that had been done three times before. The last NL team to do it was the Cardinals in a season-ending game last year on October 2, 2005 against the Reds. The Cardinals also did it against the Dodgers on September 8, 2001 against the Dodgers. That game was actually meaningful.
The 16 pitchers combined tied the major league record. Houston had a share of that record, set on September 28, 2002. That game was a 5-2 Giants win. However, none of the eight pitchers used by the Astros in 2002, pitched in tonight's game. Aaron Fultz pitched for the Giants in 2002 and for the Phillies tonight.
Colorado and Arizona broke the record for most pitchers used in an extra-inning game back on September 16 when the DBacks beat the Rockies 7-6 in 16 innings.
Pitcher #5 got the win for Houston tonight, Dave Borkowski.
16 down, 6 to go
The defending World Series champion White Sox were eliminated from playoff contention today after losing to Cleveland 14-1 while Minnesota defeated Kansas City 8-1.
Chicago White Sox 2006 Playoff Hopes
Most experts thought that the White Sox were going to be one of the top teams in the AL this year. All of the key parts of the championship team were back and Jim Thome was added to add even more pop to a lineup loaded with power hitters such as Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, and Joe Crede.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the playoffs. The White Sox pitching staff could not perform to the level it did in 2005. Coming into tonight's game, the White Sox staff put up an ERA of 4.60, up from 3.98 in 2005. The bullpen was shaky too.
Ultimately the White Sox died from a case of Extreme Podsednikism with some residual Andersonness that exacerabted the condition.
There will be no visitation. There will be a memorial service sometime next season. In lieu of flowers, the White Sox ask that you make a donation to the Ozzie Guillen Fund For The Improvement of Interpersonal Relations.
4 in, 4 to go
It's a playoff spot
The Minnesota Twins are pleased to announce that they have clinched a playoff spot tonight thanks to an 8-1 win over the Kansas City Royals while the Chicago White Sox lost to Cleveland 14-1.
The Twins have not yet decided whether to have a divisional championship or to have a wild card. The Rev. Ron Gardenhire presided over the ceremony at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Perhaps he should have chosen his words more carefully
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters supsended pitcher Satoru Kanemura for the rest of the regular season (2 games) and the playoffs for publicly criticizing team manager Trey Hillman. Kanemura could come back for the Japan Series if the Fighters make it that far.
From the Kyodo News Service:
Nippon Ham had been leading the game 4-1 when Hillman gave the
Teams that could go down for the last time today
In order that it could happen.
Home field advantage magic numbers
The Mets already have clinched homefield advantage in the NL for both rounds.
San Diego has a magic number of 6 against St. Louis to clinch home field, although the Padres will probably win any tiebreaker against the Cardinals unless they get swept. The Padres have won 2 of 3 already against St. Louis and they hold the edge in the second tiebreaker which is intradivisional games. The Cardinals actually have a losing record against teams in their own division (37-40).
In the AL, the Tigers lead the Yankees by 1/2 game and the teams are tied in the AILC (all important loss column). The Yankees hold a tiebreaker edge over the Tigers so the Yankees magic number to clinch homefield throughout the postseason is 7. For Detroit, it is also 7.
Oakland lost the season series to Detroit, but won the season series against the Yankees. For Oakland to get home field against Detroit, their magic number is 11. Against New York, it is 10.
Slipsiding away or just plummeting downhill
Cyril Morong and Dave Petit document the teams that have taken the biggest drops in winning percentage from the first half of the season and in the second half at Beyond the Box Score.
Thr 1879 Cubs played the first half of the season at a .769 pace, but played the second half at .400.
If you want to go for "modern" times, you can look to the 1905 Cleveland Indians which started at .636, but played the second half at a .351 pace.
The 2006 White Sox project to be 22nd in this category. The 2005 Nationals started out at .617 and played the last 81 games at a .383 pace. And if you look at those numbers, you can tell that Washington had to finish the season at .500.
Monday's majestic matchups (September 25)
Just one week to go in the regular season and there are only three teams with postseason berths wrapped up, but the number of contenders is dropping too. There are just 12 teams still with chances and most of them are extreme longshots.
Two teams can clinch spots Monday: Oakland and Minnesota.
The Twins can clinch the wild card if they can beat Kansas City on the road at 5:10 pm PT (Boof Bonser vs. Jorge De La Rosa) and the White Sox lose at Cleveland at 4:05 pm PT (Jon Garland vs. Cliff Lee). The Twins trail the Tigers by 1 1/2 games in the AL Central. The Tigers have a magic number of 5 to clinch the division title since they hold the tiebreaker advantage by winning the season series 11-8.
Oakland had two chances to clinch the AL West, but lost Saturday and Sunday to the Angels. So now Oakland can clinch the division if they can beat the Mariners in Seattle at 7:05 pm PT (Esteban Loaiza vs. Cesar Jimenez). And the Angels would have to lose at home to Texas at 7:05 pm PT (Edinson Volquez vs. Joe Saunders).
The National League, aside from the Mets, remains an untidy mess. The team with the lowest magic number to clinch a playoff spot is still the Cardinals who have a magic number of 5. But the Cardinals were swept in a four-game series in Houston and saw their lead in the division shrink to 3 1/2 games.
San Diego leads the Dodgers by 1 1/2 games in the West. And the Phillies lead the Dodgers by 1/2 game for the wild card.
The Central and West division leaders get together in St. Louis at 5:10 pm PT (David Wells vs. Jeff Suppan). The Padres have taken a 2 1/2 game lead on the Cardinals for the #2 slot.
Philadelphia plays its final home game of the regular season at 4:05 pm PT against Houston (Matt Albers vs. Randy Wolf). The Dodgers have the day off.
They will also play:
Give me a Central line
After Houston finished a four-game sweep of the Cardinals at home with a 7-3 win in what could have been Roger Clemens's last home appearance.
At least for now.
But the four-game sweep just brought the Astros within 3 1/2 games with seven left to play. The Cardinals have seven games left also, but they also have a potential rainout makeup game against the Giants that will only be replayed if necessary.
The last time a game was made up after the end of the regular season was on October 5, 1981 when the Kansas City Royals had to go to Cleveland to potentially make up two games. The Royals lead Oakland by 1/2 game in the second half of the split season and if the Royals lost both games, Oakland would have been the champion of both halves and picked up an extra home game. The Royals won the first game, 9-0 and the second game was called off. 3,006 fans showed up in Cleveland to watch.
The Cardinals finish with seven games at home. Three against San Diego and four against Milwaukee. The Astros finish with seven games on the road. One at Philadelphia (a rainout makeup), three at Pittsburgh, and three at Atlanta.
St. Louis lost 2 of 3 earlier in the year in San Diego and have won 7 of 12 against the Brewers. Houston has lost 4 of 5 to Philadelphia, defeated Pittsburgh 10 of 13 times, and beat Atlanta 3 out of 4 times back in June.
The home/road situation will likely be the deciding factor. The Cardinals are 46-27 in the friendly, smiling confines of Busch Stadium where The Best Fans in Baseball can will the Redbirds over the finish line through the sheer power of their Midwestern wholesomeness. Houston is 33-41 away from home and the Astros have swept just one road series all year and that was at Wrigley Field in June.
Stranger things have happened, but barring Tony LaRussa channeling the spirit of Gene Mauch, the Cardinals should wrap up the NL Central before the weekend.
So sayeth the man who predicted Cleveland to win the World Series.
Hoffman sets career save record
San Diego reliever Trevor Hoffman broke Lee Smith's record for most saves in major league history, recording #479 in San Diego's 2-1 win over the Pirates at PETCO Park.
15 down, 7 to go
The Atlanta Braves were eliminated from playoff contention today after losing to Colorado, 9-8 and the Phillies beating the Marlins 10-7.
Atlanta Braves 2006 Playoff Hopes
The demise of the Braves dynasty was awaited by many baseball fans in the same way that the U.S. government keeps checking on the health of Fidel Castro.
The Braves Dynasty collapsed under the weight of injuries and the inability of the farm system to produce enough pitching to keep the team afloat. The Braves were able to score runs thanks to players like Adam LaRoche, Andruw Jones, and Brian McCann, but their bullpen and starting rotation (which were difficult to discern differences between) dragged them down to the bottom.
The Braves leave a legacy of consecutive playoff appearances dating back to 1991 (they were in the wild card spot when the season was called off in 1994). Visitation will be at Turner Field from September 26 through October 1.
In lieu of flowers, the Braves ask you to give money to the Chief Noc-a-Homa Memorial Fund for the Nonproliferation of Stupid Mascots.
14 down, 8 to go
The Arizona Diamondbacks were eliminated from playoff contention today after the Phillies beat the Marlins 10-7. That was Philadelphia's 82nd win. The DBacks have 81 losses and cannot catch the Phillies for the wild card
Arizona Diamondbacks Playoff Hopes
Born: April 3, 2006
2006 went up and down and all around for the purple, green, and white and a few other colors of the team that carried the baseball banner for the Copper State.
Arizona tried to wring the last bit of use out of some veteran players such as Luis Gonzalez, Craig Counsell, Shawn Green, Tony Clark, and a lot of bad relievers.
The Diamondbacks realized that they weren't going to win that group and Green was traded to New York, Counsell sent to the bench, Clark sent to the even deeper bench, and Gonzalez was told to not come back in 2007.
In their place, came a bunch of prospects such as Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, and Chris Young (not the tall Padre variety).
Eventually, the team succumbed to the effects of Grimsley's Phenomenon. Once mediocre middle reliever was served a subpoena by the Federal government and named as an HGH user, the team went into a skid. They tried to pull back out, but finally went down for good.
Visitation will be at Chase Field from September 28 through October 1. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Diamondbacks Foundation for Establishing Higher Standards For Its Players.
3 in, 5 more to go
It's a playoff spot!
The Tigers need to finish one game ahead of the Yankees to get homefield through the playoffs as the Yankees own the tiebreaker.
Japan's pennant race update: 9/24
The top 3 teams all lost again Sunday.
The Fighters host the Hawks on 9/26 and 9/27. Those same days, Seibu hosts the fourth place Marines. The Hawks also have a makeup game against Rakuten.
If Seibu wins both of its games (with Daisuke Matsuzaka starting one of them), they will finish first. If the Lions split their games and the Fighters win two, then the Fighters would finish first in the PL for the first time since 1962 when they were called the Toei Flyers. If the Fighters win their three remaining games, and the Lions lose two, then they would finish in first.
In the other league:
The Dragons have 17 games left and the Tigers have 12.
Sunday's settling of scores (September 24)
Two tickets for the postseason could have punched yesterday, but none were. But they can still be punched today and the AL playoff contenders could be pared to a group of give. In the NL, the checkered jersey passed out of the hands of the Dodgers and over to the Phillies and suddenly the potential playoff pairings got all scrambled up.
The most likely team to get a playoff berth clinched is Detroit, which can clinch no worse than the wild card with a win at Kansas City at 11:05 am PT (Justin Verlander vs. Runelvys Hernandez). The Tigers will also go in if the White Sox lose in a 11:05 am PT game in Chicago against Seattle (Ryan Feierabend vs. Freddy Garcia). The Twins trail the Tigers by 1 1/2 games and have a magic number of 3 to clinch a playoff spot. Minnesota plays at Baltimore at 10:35 am PT (Matt Garza vs. Adam Loewen).
Oakland can wrap up the AL West title at home against the Angels in a 1:05 pm PT game (Ervin Santana vs. Dan Haren). The Angels will be eliminated entirely from the playoffs with a loss and if they win and Minnesota wins, they will only be able to win the AL West.
Over in the NL, the Padres solidified their lead on the NL West and now lead the Dodgers by 1 1/2 games and the Phillies lead the Dodgers by 1/2 games. The Dodgers have now become the Blanche DuBois of the NL and are dependent upon the kindness of strangers to make the playoffs.
The Phillies, making one of the more improbable playoff runs in the majors, go for a sweep at home against the Marlins in a 10:35 am PT game (Scott Olsen vs. Jamie Moyer).
The Padres go for a home sweep against the Pirates at 1:05 pm PT (Marty McLeary vs. Clay Hensley). Trevor Hoffman tied Lee Smith's career saves at 478 Saturday night and no doubt the Padres would like to see Hoffman break the record in the Padres last regular season home game of the season.
Los Angeles plays its final home game of the regular season at 1:10 pm PT against Arizona (Livan Hernandez vs. Hong-Chih Kuo). Arizona's extremely slim playoff hopes rely on them getting into at least a 3-way tie for the wild card with the Dodgers and Phillies at 81-81. If the Phillies win earlier in the day, Arizona would be eliminated even if they win.
St. Louis has slipped into the #3 spot in the NL and the Cardinals are looking at a first round matchup against the Mets right now. The Cardinals have a magic number of 5 and lead Houston by 4 1/2 games. The Astros get their last chance head-to-head with the Redbirds at home at 5:05 pm PT (Jeff Weaver vs. Roger Clemens). Clemens will be pitching on three days rest in Houston's last home game of the season. Of course, Clemens could have pitched on normal rest Monday in a game that means just as much to the Astros playoff hopes since if they win Sunday and lose Monday, they gain nothing. But far be it from me to question the mind of Phil Garner..
They will also play:
After today, the Andy Ashby Division teams have left:
The new NL home run king
Barry Bonds hit career home run #734 in the third inning for the Giants at Milwaukee against Chris Capuano, breaking Henry Aaron's all-time National League home run record.
13 down, 9 to go
The Boston Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention today after losing to Toronto 5-3 while Minnesota defeated Balitmore 8-5.
Boston Red Sox playoff hopes
The Boston Red Sox began 2006 as co-favorites with the Yankees to win the AL East. The acquisition of Josh Beckett was supposed to give the Red Sox the best starting rotation in the division. But it never turned out to be. The Red Sox rode the hot bat of David Ortiz, but eventually ran into injury problems that wrecked their season.
Boston did get good seasons out of players such as Anibal Sanchez, Cla Meredith, Hanley Ramirez, and Josh Bard. If they only hadn't been playing for other teams.
Doctors determined that the ultimate cause of death was complications from the Epstein-Cora Virus. Visitation will be at Fenway Park from September 26-October 1.
No playoff spots clinched today
The White Sox rallied from a 7-2 deficit against Seattle to win 11-7 and kept Detroit from clinching a playoff spot today.
Later in the day, the Angels beat Oakland 6-2 to delay the Athletics AL West clinching celebration as well.
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day...
Japan's Central League pennant race update
Japan's Central League has a 2-team race for its lone playoff spot.
The Central League season has 146 games this year, so the teams still have a ways to go. The Dragons have a magic number of 12. However, if they finish with a higher winning percentage than the Tigers, but with fewer total wins, the two teams would play a best-of-three playoff.
The Dragons remaining 18 games (9 home, 9 road):
The Tigers remaining 13 games (8 home, 5 road):
Time for a Gammons-Bottenfield duet?
Retired pitcher Kent Bottenfield is giving concerts and will soon have his second CD of contemporary Christian music released.
None of the songs are about the miracle of the Angels thinking that Bottenfield was the equal of Jim Edmonds.
Japan's Pacific League pennant race update: 9/23
The Lions moved back into first by .001 as they beat Rakuten 5-4. Nippon Ham fell out first when the Fighters lost to Lotte 5-4. Softbank's chances of finishing first are almost done after they lost to Orix by, you guessed it, 5-4. The Hawks will need to win their last four games and hope that the Lions drop 2 of 3.
Saturday's situation (September 23)
There are six playoff spots left and just 16 teams left competing for them. Two of the playoff spots could be wrapped up. Three more teams could be eliminated.
Oakland has the easiest path to clinching a playoff spot. The Athletics lead the Angels by eight games with nine left to play and they play host to the Halos at 1:05 pm PT (John Lackey vs. Joe Blanton).
Detroit can clinch its first trip to the playoffs since 1987 with some help. They Chicago to lose to Seattle earlier in the day and then beat Kansas City on the road at 4:10 pm PT (Kenny Rogers vs. Mark Redman). Detroit leads Minnesota by 1 1/2 games in the AL Central.
The Twins lead the White Sox by 5 1/2 games in the wild card. They will play at Baltimore at 1:35 pm PT (Scott Baker vs. Erik Bedard). Their magic number to make the playoffs is 4.
Over in the National League, there is New York, champions of the East and owners of the best record, and then there's the rest.
St. Louis leads Cincinnati and Houston by 5 1/2 games in the Central and appears to be just trying to stumble over the finish line and into the playoffs. Their magic number is five. They play at Houston at 4:05 pm PT (Jason Marquis vs. Roy Oswalt).
Then there is the Andy Ashby Division. San Diego leads Los Angeles by 1/2 game in the West and Los Angeles leads Philadelphia by 1/2 game for the wild card.
The Phillies will play first at 10:20 am PT (Brian Moehler vs. Jon Lieber). The Padres play at 7:05 pm PT at home against Pittsburgh (Zach Duke vs. Jake Peavy). The Dodgers host Arizona at 7:10 pm PT (Miguel Batista vs. Brad Penny). If the Dodgers win, Arizona is eliminated.
They will also play:
12 down, 10 to go
The Colorado Rockies were eliminated from playoff contention today after San Diego defeated Pittsburgh 6-2. The Padres now have 81 wins, one more than the Rockies can win. The Rockies cannot win the wild card either as Philadelphia and Florida have to finish with more than 80 wins.
Colorado Rockies Playoff Hopes
Not much was expected from the Rockies in 2006, but the team managed to give its fans some hope as they toyed with first place during the summer. The team received excellent pitching from its starters and its bullpen for the first time ever. However, the offense at Coors, outside of Matt Holliday and Garret Atkins was spotty. Eventually the team just gave up and signed up Vinny Castilla because he seemed like a nice guy.
The coroner ruled that the Rockies died of a humidor-related illness. The team was just too wet. Visitation will be at Coors Field from September 22 through September 28.
In lieu of flowers, the Colorado Rockies ask you to make donations to your favorite climate-controlled home for sick baseballs.
Bonds ties Aaron for NL home run mark
Barry Bonds hit a 3-run homer in the 6th inning of off Chris Spurling of Milwaukee to tie Henry Aaron for the most home runs hit in the National League at 733.
11 down, 11 to go
The Toronto Blue Jays were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention Friday night after a 7-1 loss at home to Boston.
Toronto Blue Jays Playoff Hopes
The good people of Ontario began the year with high hopes that free agent acquisitions such as B.J. Ryan, A.J. Burnett, and Bengie Molina, as well as trading for Troy Glaus, would finally be able to propel the Blue Jays into a playoff spot and break up the New York-Boston Axis.
But Burnett was injured for much of the year as was Gustavo Chacin. Then other starters saw their effectiveness go AWOL, such as Josh Towers. Finally, the Blue Jays succumbed to Gibbonsness, a rare condition marked by an inability to accept negative messages written on greaseboards and arguments with starting pitchers.
Visitation will be at Rogers Centre from September 22-26. In lieu of flowers, the Blue Jays ask that you donate money to Rogers Communication to help fund their Blue Jays Payroll Expansion Fund, which pledges to help the team sign at least one more very expensive free agent. You may make your donations in either US or Canadian dollars.
The rest of the AL East starts their vacations early
With the division race decided and both teams almost eliminated from wild card consideration, Toronto and Boston both shelved players for the rest of the season.
Roy Halladay of Toronto will not start again this year because of a right forearm strain.
Coco Crisp will have surgery on his left index finger Monday and skip the last week.
Fairly to retire
After spending 27 years as an announcer for the Angels, Giants, and Mariners, Ron Fairly will retire from his job with the Mariners. Fairly also played in the major leagues for 21 years.
Japan's Pacific League pennant race update
The only one of the contenders that played today were the Lions (Seibu) who lost a 1-0 game to the last place Rakuten Golden Eagles in Sendai.
Girardi to be shown the door in Florida: Report
The Marlins brain trust, mainly Jeffrey Loria, was upset with Girardi for numerous decisions, especially bringing back Josh Johnson after a long rain delay on September 12, that some think was responsible for Johnson's arm that has shut him down for the season.
A Spanish-speaking manager may be in line so Fredi Gonzalez of Atlanta, Joey Cora of Chicago, and Manny Acta of the Mets are all mentioned in the story as possible successors as well as a long list of the usual suspects: Jim Fregosi, Jerry Manuel ...
Friday's fascinations (September 22)
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:
O's fans stage walkout
A group of nearly 1000 angry Orioles fans walked out of Baltimore's game today to protest the lousy way the team has been run, according to this AP report.
The walkout was organized by a local radio host, Nestor Aparicio, the nephew of Luis Aparicio.
The Orioles are in their ninth-straight losing season. However, the walkout must have helped today. The Orioles beat the Tigers 4-3.
As a counterpoint, MLB.com has a story on Bobby Abreu who has ended his nine-year long playoff drought. The story almost made me cry. Well, it made me feel something. But I don't think it was an emotion. I never realized that Abreu could have been this century's Ernie Banks. And Abreu had already played in the postseason once before!
The New York Royal Guardsmen
The Yankees have signed an agreement to make the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons their AAA affiliate in 2007, replacing Columbus.
Columbus will now be the AAA team for Washington. Philadelphia moves to Ottawa in 2007, which will become Allentown in 2008. Washington used to use New Orleans, but Baltimore now needs a AAA affiliate.
Free clinchers on MLB.com
MLB.com is letting people download video of division or playoff spot clinching games for free. However, it looks like if your favorite team clinches by having someone else lose, your out of luck. Right now, you can download the Mets clinching win over the Marlins, but for the Yankees, you can't download Boston's loss to Minnesota.
Let this be a lesson to teams: don't back in!
Living on the edge
With the days in the regular season running short, two playoff spots wrapped up and the American League turning into a quadripartite battle for the best record among the Yankees, Tigers, Athletics, and Twins, teams are going to start dropping out of playoff contention very quickly.
Since I'll be out tonight, you may miss some teams bite the dust, but here's the forecast:
Boston and Toronto - If the Twins beat Boston tonight, and the Twins are starting Johan Santana, both the Red Sox and Blue Jays are through. If the Red Sox, both teams live for another day. But they both won't live for ever as the two teams play each other over the weekend.
Colorado - If the Rockies lose to Atlanta tonight and the Dodgers and Padres and Giants and Marlins (late addition) all win, the Rockies are eliminated. It's complicated, but trust me. The fifth to first leap in the final two weeks of the season is not one that is easily made.
Los Angeles of Anaheim - They won't be eliminated today at all, but if Oakland wins today, they could clinch the AL West with two wins at home over the weekend against the Halos.
Bell out on medical leave
Royals manager Buddy Bell is taking a medical leave of absence and will likely not be on the bench for the final games of the season for Kansas City. Bell is getting treatment for a growth near his left tonsil. Billy Doran will run the team for the Royals final games, all of which are against Detroit and Minnesota.
Thursday's thunderings (September 21)
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:
2 teams in, 6 more to go
It's a Divisional Title!
The New York Yankees wrapped up their 14 1/2th (the 1/2 for 1981) AL East divisional title after the Boston Red Sox lost to the Minnesota Twins, 8-2.. Reception will be held in Bronx, NY sometime in the first week of October. The Yankees have announced that they will keep their own name.
The Rev. Joseph Torre presided over the ceremony.
10 down, 14 to go
Today the Milwaukee Brewers became the tenth team to be eliminated from playoff consideration. They now cannot win more games than the first place Cardinals and cannot win the wild card either as the Dodgers and Phillies both have 79 wins, one more than the Brewers can possibly win.
Milwaukee Brewers 2006 playoff hopes
The Brewers season was marked by high hopes with promising players such as Ben Sheets, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Bill Hall, among others, but the season ran aground after the All-Star break as injuries and an inconsistent to downright bad bullpen caused the team to succumb to terminal mediocrity. A 10-game losing streak at the end of August and beginning of September provided a fatal blow from which the team could not recover. The cause of death was ultimately ruled to Excessive Wisconsinness, a disease caused by excessive tailgating and an inordinate fixation on the career of Brett Favre.
The team is survived by several good young players and several costumed sausages. Visitation will be from September 21-24 at Miller Park. In lieu of flowers, the Brewers request that you just drink beer.
A different Choi gives his opinion about another Lee coming to the US
Hyang-Nam Choi, a 35-year old pitcher who played for Buffalo, Cleveland's AAA team, gives his opinion about the possiblity of Korean slugger Seung-Yeop Lee making it in the U.S. in this article in Donga.com.
Choi, now in Korea for a break, said, "When I played baseball in Korea, the most feared batter was Yang Jun-hyuk, not Lee Seung-yeop. And yet, I could feel inexplicable growth potential in him. Whenever I see Lee playing on TV, I can really see that he has upgraded a notch."
Braves start to rebuild for new run of dominance
Bob Wickman has re-signed with the Braves for 2007.
Ahh, the final piece is in place now for the Braves rebuilding process.
Mirabelli replies to Towers
Mirabelli was both upset at Towers for revealing what he considered a private conversation, but he also started speaking of himself in the third person.
``Considering the timing and how long I've been away from there, it seems unfortunate," he said. ``It seems unfortunate for me to have left that opinion with anybody.
But Rickey Henderson just uses his first name when he does the third person talking bit.
The Pacific League pennant race
In Japan's Pacific League, although the three playoff teams are set, there is a taut battle for first. The first place team plays just one round of playoffs and gets a one game handicap.
Here are the top three teams and their records
The last game will be played regardless of its playoff implications however.
If you're figuring out the winning percentages, don't count the ties as half a win and half a loss. All they do is just lower the denominator. The ties are not replayed. All three teams can finish first I believe.
Wednesday's dates with destiny (September 20)
One more team hovers on the brink of clinching a playoff spot. One more team (that I buried prematurely) hovers on the brink of elimination. And the NL West and wild card remain very much up in the air.
The New York Yankees are on the brink of clinching the AL East for the first time since 2005. They have a magic number of 1 and lead the Red Sox by 11 games. The Yankees play at Toronto at 4:07 pm PT (Sean Henn vs. Roy Halladay). OK, so this matchup doesn't look all that favorable to the Yankees. So they can go the alternate route and hope that Boston loses at home to wild card leader Minnesota in a 4:05 pm PT game (Boof Bonser vs. Curt Schilling).
The Twins are just 1/2 game behind the Tigers in the Central. The Tigers play the third place White Sox, who trail the Tigers by five games and the Twins by 4 1/2 games, at 5:05 pm PT (Jeremy Bonderman vs. Jon Garland).
In the AL West, Oakland leads the Angels by 6 1/2 games and has a magic number of 6. Oakland hosts Cleveland at 7:05 pm PT (Fausto Carmona vs. Esteban Loaiza).
The National League West and wild card remain the best race. The Dodgers and Padres exchanges yellow and checkered jerseys as division leaders and wild card team for the third straight day. The Padres currently occupy the top spot with the Dodgers a half game back. Will they trade places for the fourth straight day? San Diego is at home to play Arizona at 7:05 pm PT (Edgar Gonzalez vs. David Wells). The Dodgers play Pittsburgh at home at 7:10 pm PT (Shawn Chacon vs. Greg Maddux).
The Phillies are just one game back of the Dodgers and they play Chicago at 4:05 pm PT (Les Walrond vs. Brett Myers). The Phillies will be off on Thursday before the Marlins come to town over the weekend.
St. Louis leads the Central over Cincinnati by seven games with a magic number of 6. The Cardinals will be at Milwaukee at 5:05 pm PT (Jeff Suppan vs. Carlos Villanueva). The Brewers will be eliminated (for real this time!) with a loss or a win by Philadelphia or Florida.
They will also play:
King of the Bay, Ma, King of the Bay
The Oakland Athletics have now clinched the SF/Oakland Bay Area metro battle. The White Sox have long clinched the Chicagoland battle.
The other three battles, New York, DC/Baltimore, and LA/Orange County, will likely come down to the final weekend.
9 down, 13 to go (FOR REAL THIS TIME)
The Texas Rangers became the ninth team to be eliminated from playoff contention tonight. The Rangers were eliminated after losing to Seattle 9-7 in extra innings while the Angels defeated Kansas City 5-2 and Oakland defeated Cleveland, 7-3.
This gives Texas 75 losses, for a maximum of 87 wins. The Angels have 81 wins and the Athletics have 87 wins. Since the Angels and Athletics play each other seven times, one will have to win at least 88 games. The Rangers cannot win the wild card since the Twins have 89 wins.
Texas Rangers Playoff Hopes
The Texas Rangers began the 2006 season with hopes especially since young GM Jon Daniels assumed he had fleeced Washington GM Jim Bowden by acquiring Brad Wilkerson in exchange for Alfonso Soriano. Later in the offseason, the Rangers acquired pitcher Adam Eaton to bolster their rotation.
But Wilkerson turned out to be a bust, Eaton was hurt much of the year, and the Rangers eventually succumbed to an attack of Showalter's Syndrome, a malicious disease marked by an obsessive desire to micromanage combined with a bad bullpen and inconsistent offense.
The Rangers are survived by Michael Young, Mark Texeira, and several middling pitchers. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Frank Francisco Society for the Prevention of Chair Throwing Injuries. Remember the best way to prevent flying furniture related injuries is eternal vigilance.
The Griddle wishes to apologize to the fans of the Milwaukee Brewers for prematurely running their funeral notice. Reports state that the Brewers are only "mostly dead."
I remember him, he used to throw hard
Maybe Matt Harrington still throws hard and only the radar guns got slower....
Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star catches us up on the sad story of Matt Harrington, pitcher for the Fort Worth Cats.
As suggested by reader grandcosmo.
Johnson of the Marlins likely done for the year
Josh Johnson of Florida will likely be put on the shelf for the rest of the season with a right forearm strain.
Johnson had an excellent rookie year, going 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA. Johnson will finish the season with 157 IP, so he won't be listed among the ERA leaders at season's end.
Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals leads the NL at 2.79, so it would have been pretty hard for Johnson to make up that deficit. Brandon Webb is at 2.92 and Roy Oswalt is at 3.05.
Syd Thrift passes away
Longtime baseball front office executive Syd Thrift passed away Monday at age 77 after undergoing knee replacement surgery. The exact cause of death is to be determined.
Thrift worked for the Pirates, Orioles, Yankees, Devil Rays, and Royals organizations.
Thrift, along with Barry Shapiro, authored a book entitled The Game According to Syd.
Now it's really a pennant race
Peter Gammons returns to the air for ESPN tonight, although it will be in a limited capacity. But it will be good to see him back.
Too bad the trading deadline has passed? Whom did all the GMs leak their deals to this year?
But at least he gets to start tonight
Despite San Diego's loss last night to the Dodgers, the Padres still have an excellent chance of making the postseason. But earlier in the year, then Padre catcher Doug Mirabelli was none too happy about being on the team. And according to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego GM Kevin Towers was none to glad to see him leave.
"He called (Dave) Roberts (when Mirabelli was traded) and said, 'I guess I'm getting called back to the big leagues,' " Towers said before Monday's game with the Dodgers. "I'm glad I didn't hear that. . . . I don't miss him. These guys don't miss him."
The Padres received Josh Bard and Cla Meredith in exchange for Mirabelli. Bard and Meredith (two players who have nothing to hang their heads over Monday night), have been instrumental in the Padres battling for a playoff spot.
Mirabelli should start tonight in Boston to catch Tim Wakefield in a game against the Twins. Have a good time Doug!
After his career as a knuckle ball catching expert comes to an end, Mirabelli will go into his second career, which will be repairing wheels on Conestoga wagons. He is also thinking of dabbling in selling whale oil lamps or selling his own brand of Mirabelli 33.3 baud modems!
Tuesday's trifles (September 19)
The Mets finally wrapped one of the eight playoff spots. There are just seven spots left and 21 teams left to compete for them. And the teams may start dropping like flies soon. Or more like very slow moving beetles.
With their first division title since 1988 in hand, the Mets have only one more thing to worry about, home field advantage in both rounds of the NL playoffs. Their magic number to clinch that is 3 against the second best team in the NL, St. Louis. The Mets already have homefield advantage clinched against every other team in the NL.
The next team that is likely to clinch a playoff spot is the "other" team in New York, the Yankees. The Yankees can wrap up their first AL East title since 2005 by Wednesday. The Yankees have a 10 game lead over Boston and a magic number of 3. The Yankees are in Toronto at 4:07 pm PT (Jeff Karstens vs. Shaun Marcum).
Two teams have magic numbers of 7. One is AL West leader Oakland which leads the Angels by 6 1/2 games. Oakland hosts Cleveland at 7:05 pm PT (Cliff Lee vs. Kirk Saarloos). The other is NL Central leader St. Louis which leads Cincinnati by seven. The Cardinals are at Milwaukee at 5:05 pm PT (Jeff Weaver vs. Ben Sheets). The Brewers would be eliminated with a loss.
In the AL Central, the Tigers have a shaky 1 1/2 game lead over the Twins, but they now lead the third place White Sox by six games. The Tigers have a magic number of 12 to clinch the division and 7 to clinch a playoff spot. Detroit is at Chicago at 5:05 pm PT (Justin Verlander vs. Freddy Garcia). The Twins lead the White Sox by 4 1/2 games for the wild card and have a magic number of 9 to clinch a playoff spot. The Twins are at Boston at 4:05 pm PT (Matt Garza vs. Tim Wakefield).
The NL West leaders, the Dodgers, have the largest magic number of any division leader at 13. They lead the Padres by 1/2 game after their most improbable 11-10, 10-inning win over San Diego Monday night. The two teams don't play each other again in the regular season. The Dodgers are at home for a 7:10 pm PT game against Pittsburgh (Ian Snell vs. Hong-Chih Kuo). The Padres will be at home at 7:05 pm PT against Arizona (Livan Hernandez vs. Clay Hensley).
The Padres lead the Phillies by 1 1/2 games for the wild card. The Phillies play host to the Cubs at 4:05 pm PT (Wade Miller vs. Jamie Moyer).
They should also play:
Four x Four x Four
1. June 8, 1961 at Crosley Field.
2. July 31, 1963, Game 2 at Cleveland Stadium. The Angels trail Cleveland 5-1 in the sixth with reliever Paul Foytack in. With two outs, second baseman Woody Held homers. Then pitcher Pedro Ramos homers (his second of the day). Left fielder Tito Francona then homers. Finally, shortstop Larry Brown homers. Only then does Los Angeles manager Bill Rigney decide it's time to pull Foytack, leaving him as the only pitcher in major league history to give up four consecutive home runs.
3. May 2, 1964 at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The Twins and Athletics are tied in the 11th inning. Dan Pfister is on the mound for Kansas City. Right fielder Tony Oliva leads off with a home run, his second of the game. First baseman Bob Allison follows with another. Center fielder Jimmie Hall hits another to make it 6-3 Twins. Kansas City manager Eddie Lopat brings in Vern Handrahan, one of the greatest players ever to come out of Prince Edward Island. Left fielder Harmon Killebrew hits the Twins fourth straight homer and the Twins win the game 7-3.
4. September 18, 2006 at Dodger Stadium. The Padres lead the Dodgers 9-5 in the ninth. Second baseman Jeff Kent greets reliever Jon Adkins with a home run. Right fielder J.D. Drew follows with another home run. Padres manager Bruce Bochy brings in Trevor Hoffman. Catcher Russell Martin homers to make it 9-8. Left fielder Marlon Anderson hits his second homer of the night to tie the game at 9-9. The Dodgers win in the 10th on a 2-run homer by Nomar Garciaparra after the Padres had taken the lead in the top half of the inning.
The Dodgers were only the second NL team to hit four solo home runs in one inning. The other team to do it was the New York Giants on August 13, 1939 in the fourth inning of the first game of a doubleheader. It's happened nine times in the AL.
The Dodgers also tied an NL record for solo home runs in a game with 6. It's been done four other times, most recently on August 19, 1970 by the Cubs against the Padres. The major league record for solo home runs in a game is seven by the Red Sox on July 4, 1977 at Fenway Park against the Blue Jays.
1 team in, 7 more to go
It's a divisional title!
The New York Mets baseball team wish to welcome you to a celebration of their NL East title. Reception will be held at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York from September 19 through 25. Honeymoon planned to begin on or around October 3. Details to follow.
Minor leagues set attendance record
41,710,357 people bought tickets to go to minor leagues in 2006, the most
The leaders per level were:
For $1000, Pete Rose will say he's sorry
Pete Rose and a sports memorabilia company are planning to sell about 300 baseballs for $1000 each where Rose signs "I'm sorry I bet on baseball Pete Rose." This according to the New York Daily News through MSNBC.
Presented without further comment.
Monday's mashups (September 18)
Just 12 games scheduled tonight with the big game being the last one of the night, the NL West/wild card showdown. At the end of the evening, there could be another change in division leaders or possibly a tie in the NL wild card. And the Mets still wait to clinch.
The Mets needed just one win in Pittsburgh this weekend or one Philadelphia loss in Houston to clinch the NL East, but neither of those things happened. So now, it's likely that the Mets will get to celebrate at home. They host the Marlins at 4:10 pm (Brian Moehler vs. Steve Trachsel). The Phillies, 13 1/2 games back of the Mets and much more interested in the wild card where they trail by one game, are home to play the Cubs at 4:05 pm PT (Sean Marshall vs. Jon Lieber). The Mets magic number to clinch best record in the NL is 5 over the Cardinals.
The team the Phillies trail in the wild by one game is the Dodgers and they are home to the new NL West leaders, San Diego, for the last time this season. That game starts at 7:10 pm PT (Jake Peavy vs. Brad Penny). Penny is 3-6 with a 5.94 ERA in his career against San Diego. Peavy is 6-1 with a 2.09 ERA in his career against the Dodgers. If the Dodgers win, they go back into first and San Diego goes back in to the wild card spot. If the Padres win, their lead goes up to 1 1/2 games and the Dodgers could potentially fall into a tie for the wild card if the Phillies beat the Cubs. Strangely, MLB did not pick a site for a potential tiebreaker for the wildcard between the Dodgers and Phillies.
Meanwhile in the Central, the Cardinals plug along with a seven-game lead over Cincinnati and a magic number of 8. The Cardinals will play in Milwaukee at 5:05 pm PT (Anthony Reyes vs. Chris Capuano). The Brewers will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss.
The other contender for the NL wild card race, aka the Dennis Cook Division, San Francisco, is playing at Colorado at 5:35 pm PT (Noah Lowry vs. Justin Hampson).
The Yankees had a chance to clinch the AL East with two wins over Boston in a
Out in the Central, the Tigers, who once led by 10 games, now lead Minnesota by just one game. The White Sox trail the Tigers by five games and the Twins by four games. The White Sox make what could be their last stand in an attempt to make the playoffs when they host Detroit for a three-game series starting at 5:05 pm PT (Kenny Rogers vs. Mark Buehrle). The Twins are off before heading to Boston Tuesday. The Yankees are one game better than Detroit for best record in the AL and hold the season series tiebreaker over Detroit as well as Minnesota. The only teams in the AL to win the season series against the Yankees are Oakland and Los Angeles.
Oakland is close to making its seven remaining games against second place Los Angeles irrelevant as the Athletics have a seven game lead over the Angels and a magic number of seven. Oakland hosts Cleveland at 7:05 pm PT (Jake Westbrook vs. Dan Haren). The Angels are off before starting a 2-game series at Kansas City Tuesday.
They will also play (weather permitting):
A third way for the Mets to clinch
The New York Mets were frustrated in their attempt to clinch their first NL East division title since 1988 as they were swept by the Pirates while the Phillies swept the Astros in Houston.
The Phillies will play the Cubs next while the Mets play the Marlins. If the Phillies keep winning and the Mets keep losing, the Mets have another backdoor. If the Dodgers were to lose two more games, the Mets would finish no worse than 90-72 and tied with the Phillies. Then both of those teams would make the playoffs and the Mets would be the division winner because of an 11-8 series edge over the Phillies.
Or the Mets could just beat the Marlins tomorrow night.
8 down, 14 to go
The Washington Nationals became the eighth team overall, third in the NL, to be eliminated from playoff consideration. Although the Nationals beat Milwaukee today, 6-1, they were eliminated when Philadelphia beat Houston, 6-4.
The Nationals cannot win more than 78 games as they have 84 losses so far. The Phillies have 77 wins and the Marlins have 74 wins. The Marlins and Phillies play each other six more times, so one of them will have to win more than 78 games.
Sometimes you are just so beside yourself with joy, that words cannot express my satisfaction at knowing that this has finally transpired. Presumably, there will be just 13 games left in Frank Robinson's Reign of Extreme Grumpiness. If the game of baseball is lucky, Robinson can go back into retirement and grumble that nobody ever plays like Vada Pinson or Curt Flood anymore. Or that pitchers don't routinely throw at batter's heads like they did in the era of Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale. Or that the basic problem with baseball is that no one is exactly like him and inherently inferior. For a man who supposedly loves the game of baseball, he has a bizarre way of showing affection.
10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more....
The Red Barons aren't really rolling up the score when it comes to merchandise.
This article from the Scranton Times-Tribune, via the AP wire, discusses the problem that the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons have in marketing their team. For starters, nobody likes the logo, which is pretty boring. Also, people wonder why a baseball team in Pennsylvania is seemingly named after a German World War I flying ace.
Turns out, the team isn't named after Manfred von Richthofen. The name is a melding of the nicknames of the old Scranton team, the Red Sox, and the old Wikes-Barre team, the Barons.
Changes will be afoot as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (celebrating diversity in punctuation!) as the Phillies are ending their agreement with the team to use Ottawa in 2007, which is moving to Allentonw in 2008. The Yankees are giving the Phillip Roth treatment to their farm team in Columbus and maybe interested in moving into "SWB."
The Red Barons play in neither Scranton nor Wilkes-Barre. They actually play in Moosic.
E for everybody
Error leaders by position.
Lee out for the season for Cubs
Derrek Lee of the Cubs will miss the final 13 games of the season to stay home and help his wife tend to their ailing 3-year old daughter.
Sunday's showdowns, will playoff tickets finally be punched? (September 17)
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:
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):
Lonnnngggggg night in the desert
Colorado and Arizona played their second marathon game of the year Saturday night in Phoenix at Chase Field. A sacrifice fly by Chris Snyder in the 16th gave the Diamondbacks a 7-6 win. On August 15, Arizona beat Colorado 2-1 in 18 innings.
This game featured a major league record (for an extra inning game) 19 pitchers used by both teams
The roll call:
The 10 pitchers used by Arizona tied the NL record for an extra inning game also.
The last game with 18 pitchers was this classic between the Phillies and Mets on September 11, 2004. Note who hit his first career homer for the Phillies in the game.
Snyder was pinch-hitting for Julio when he got his game-winning sacrifice fly. Arizona manager Bob Melvin was ejected from the game in the second inning and missed out on a lot of camera time.
That's the sound of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays taking over the title of "Worst Team in Baseball". Tampa Bay lost its 27th of 29 road games since the All-Star Break, losing to Toronto 6-1. Meanwhile, Kansas City scored five runs in the fourth as they beat Seattle at home, 7-4. The Royals are now 58-91 while Tampa Bay is 57-91. The Cubs have the worst record in the NL at 60-89.
As I mentioned earlier, the only team in the majors without a complete game had been the Chicago Cubs.
But Rich Hill pitched a 2-hit shutout for the Cubs first complete game of 2006. Hill had 118 pitches on the day.
41-year old tosses no-hitter in Japan
Masahiro Yamamoto of the first place Chunichi Dragons tossed a 3-0 no-hitter against the second place Hanshin Tigers at the Nagoya Dome.
Yamamoto was born on August 11, 1965 and according to this account, he is the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the Japanese majors. Yamamoto threw just 97 pitches.
I've seen Yamamoto pitch and he didn't throw hard enough to make a pane of glass wiggle.
Yamamoto's career record through 2005. He is 9-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 2006.
I saw Yamamoto pitch twice in 2003:
Saturday's struggles (September 16)
Sixteen games scheduled for today. One team, the Mets, still sits one win or a Phillies loss, from clinching the NL East. And the Mariners bowed out of contention.
The Mets magic number is stuck at 1 after they lost to the Pirates while the Phillies beat the Astros. The Mets lead by 15 1/2 games in the Tug McGraw Division.
The Phillies (who trail San Diego by 1 1/2 games for the wild card) play first at 10:45 am PT in Houston (Cole Hamels vs. Jason Hirsh). The Mets play at Pittsburgh at 4:05 pm PT (Orlando Hernandez vs. Tom Gorzelanny). Note to Mets fans: Gorzelanny is a lefty.
St. Louis leads the Chick Hafey divison by 5 1/2 games over the Reds and the magic number is 11. The Cardinals are at home to play San Francisco at 1:05 pm PT (Matt Morris vs. Chris Carpenter). This game will mark Morris's first game in St. Louis as an opposing player. The Giants trail the Padres by 2 1/2 games for the wild card and the Dodgers by four in the West.
The Buddy Carlyle Division showdown is the last game of the day. The Dodgers, ahead of San Diego by 1 1/2, are at home to play their neighbors to the south at 7:10 pm PT (Woody Williams vs. Chad Billingsley). The Dodgers have a magic number of 15.
The NL wild card race, aka the Benito Santiago Division, also has Florida back in the mix as the Marlins are just 2 1/2 games behind the Padres now. The Marlins play at Atlanta at 4:05 pm PT (Anibal Sanchez vs. John Smoltz).
In the American League, the Yankees, leaders of the Wilcy Moore division by 11 1/2 games over the Red Sox, have a magic number of 6 and play Boston in a day-night
Detroit leads the Rusty Kuntz by two games over the Twins and four games over the White Sox. Detroit took advantage of a woeful Orioles pitching staff and picked up 17 runs. The Tigers host the Orioles again at 4:05 pm PT (Kris Benson vs. Nate Robertson). The Twins will play at Cleveland at the same time (Carlos Silva vs. C.C. Sabathia). The Twins still hold on to the wild card spot.
The White Sox will be playing at the home of the leaders of the Damon Mashore division, Oakland, at 1:05 pm PT (Javier Vazquez vs. Barry Zito). The Athletics lead the Angels by five games and have a magic number of 11. The Angels are at Texas at 5:05 pm PT (John Lackey vs. Adam Eaton).
They will also play (weather permitting):
7 down, 15 to go
Despite winning at Kansas City tonight by a score of 11-8, the Seattle Mariners became the seventh team overall to be eliminated from playoff contention. The elimination was complete after the Angels beat the Rangers 2-1 in Texas and then Oakland defeated Chicago at home 4-2.
Seattle's maximum win total would be 85. Oakland has 84 and the Angels have 80. Since those two teams play each other seven times, one of them will finish with at least 86 wins.
In their 17-2 loss at Detroit, Baltimore used five pitchers: Hayden Penn, Russ Ortiz, Winston Abreu, Sendy Rleal, and Julio Manon.
After today their ERAs are: 27.00, 8.44, 7.71, 4.63, and 6.32 respectively.
With the Orioles down 10-2 in the 6th inning, Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo ordered Winston Abreu to intentionally walk Sean Casey to load the bases. Tigers manager Jim Leyland countered with newly acquired Matt Stairs as a pinch hitter. Stairs walked to force in run #11. Rleal relieved Abreu and then gave up a grand slam to Brandon Inge.
Tigers claim Stairs off of waivers
With Dmitri Young exiled for reasons still not made clear, the Detroit Tigers added Texas DH Matt Stairs to the roster today. Stairs will be on his third team this year. He started with Kansas City, then went to Texas, and now to Detroit.
Friday night fights (September 15)
A full complement of 15 games on tap for today. There could be a change atop one division and a tie is possible in another although no new teams will break into the "Gang of Eight" that holds on to the playoff spots. Six teams are out of contention completely, four in the AL and two in the NL. And the first official invitation to the playoffs could be issued tonight.
The New York Mets can wrap up their first NL East crown since 1988 if they can beat the Pirates in a 4:05 pm PT game at PNC Park (Pedro Martinez vs. Paul Maholm). The second place team, Philadelphia, trailing by 16 1/2 games, can also give the Mets the division if they lose at Houston in a 5:05 pm PT game (Brett Myers vs. Roger Clemens). The Mets magic number to clinch best record in the NL is at 5.
Out in the West, the Dodgers host the Padres in the first of a four game series. The Dodgers lead is just 1/2 game over the Padres and if the Padres win, they take over first place and the Dodgers become the wild card team. The teams get things started at 7:40 pm PT (David Wells vs. Greg Maddux). The Dodgers have a magic number of 17 to clinch the division and the Padres is 18 and in each game of the series, the winner will see its number go down by 2. Yellow and checkered jerseys could be changed four times this weekend.
The Phillies trail the Padres by 2 1/2 games in the wild card and the Giants are also 2 1/2 games back. The Giants will play at Central-leading St. Louis at 5:10 pm PT (Jason Schmidt vs. Jeff Suppan). The Cardinals lead the Reds by 5 1/2 games in Central and have a magic number of 12. The Padres magic number to clinch the wild card is 15.
In the American League, the Yankees are on pace to clinch a playoff spot by the end of the weekend if they can take three of their four games this weekend at home against the Red Sox. They play at 4:05 pm PT (Josh Beckett vs. Chien-Ming Wang). The Yankees lead the Red Sox by 11 1/2 games and have a magic number of 6.
In the Central, Detroit's lead over Minnesota is down to just one game. The Tigers are at home to play Baltimore at 4:05 pm PT (Hayden "36.82" Penn vs. Jeremy Bonderman). The Twins are at Cleveland at the same time (Johan Santana vs. Fausto Carmona). The Tigers won the season series against the Twins, 11-8, and would still hold on to the title of "division leader."
The White Sox, three games behind the Tigers and two games behind the Twins, are seeing their margin for error shrink. While the Tigers and Twins face teams out of contention, the White Sox have to travel to West-leading Oakland. The Athletics lead the Angels by five games and have a magic number of 12. The White Sox and Athletics play at 7:05 pm PT (Jon Garland vs. Esteban Loaiza). The Angels are at Texas at 5:35 pm PT (Jered Weaver vs. Robinson Tejeda). The Twins have a magic number of 15 to clinch the wild card.
They will also play (weather permitting)
Twins may trump Gophers
If Minnesota finishes up as the AL Central champ and the second best record in the AL or as the wild card team, the University of Minnesota will have to shift its scheduled game against Penn State from October 7 to November 25. If the Twins either finish with the best record or as AL Central champ but with a record worse than that of the East and West champions, the Gophers game would not be affected.
And, of course, the Twins could also miss the playoffs.
Gonzo will be gone
Reports out of Arizona say that the Diamondbacks will not pick up the option on outfielder Luis Gonzalez for the 2007 season.
6 down, 16 to go
The Cleveland Indians became the sixth team to find itself mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after a 9-4 loss to Minnesota.
No fancy math needed here. Cleveland can't win more than 85 games and Detroit has won 87 and Minnesota has won 86.
Seattle at Kansas City - Liveblogging!
The big game of the night is of course Seattle at Kansas City. And as a public service, I'll watch it and give live updates as it goes along.
Unless I get hungry. Or I have to go to the bathroom. Or somebody calls me on the phone. Or I fall asleep. Or I just get bored.
Mets to bring back Martinez Friday
Pedro Martinez will have a chance to win the division-clinching game for the Mets Friday night against when he comes back off the disabled list. The Mets have a magic number of 2.
New York manager Willie Randolph says that Martinez will start Game 1 of the playoffs for the Mets against (choose one) San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or St. Louis.
The races that no one wants to win or care much about (Pitchers)
The "Turn around and watch it go" department, aka home runs
The "I was pitching around him ... a lot" department, aka walks
The "Don Drysdale/Bob Gibson" department, aka HBPs
The "It's not my fault that my catcher didn't stop it" department, aka wild pitches
The "Runners, what runners? I'm supposed to pay attention to runners?" department, aka stolen bases allowed
The "I've got a bad feeling about this" department, aka blown saves
Thursday's tempests (September 14)
Just a smattering of action today as there are just nine games scheduled and only two division leaders and the two wild card leaders are playing.
The NL wild card leaders, San Diego, get things going early in the morning with a 9:35 am PT start at Cincinnati (Clay Hensley vs. Aaron Harang). The Padres trail the Dodgers by 1 1/2 games. Los Angeles plays at Chicago at 11:20 am PT (Hong-Chih Kuo vs. Wade Miller). The Dodgers have a magic number of 17 to clinch the division.
The Mets have a magic number of two to clinch a playoff spot and has the day off. The Mets play at Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Cardinals lead the Central over the Reds by five games and have a magic number of 13. The Cardinals will host San Francisco over the weekend.
The Padres two closest pursuers in the wild card are both in action. The Phillies trail the Padres by 1 1/2 games and play at Atlanta at 4:35 pm PT (Jamie Moyer vs. Chuck James). The Giants are 2 1/2 games back and play Colorado at AT&T Park at 12:35 pm PT (Aaron Cook vs. Matt Cain).
The owner of the American League's best record, New York, is home to Tampa Bay at 4:05 pm PT (James Shields vs. Chien-Ming Wang). The Yankees lead Boston by 11 1/2 games with a magic number of 7.
Detroit, the leader of the Central, has the day off with Baltimore due in over the weekend. The Tigers lead the Twins by 1 1/2 with a magic number of 15. The Twins travel to Cleveland to play at 4:05 pm PT (Boof Bonser vs. Cliff Lee). The White Sox trail the Twins by 1 1/2 games and the Tigers by 3 games. Cleveland is mathematically eliminated with a loss to the Twins.
The White Sox are off and will at West-leading Oakland over the weekend. Oakland leads the Angels by 5 1/2 games and have a magic number of 12. The Angels are in Texas for a 5:05 pm PT game (Kelvim Escobar vs. Edinson Volquez).
They will also play:
On September 18, 1974, Hank Aaron hit a solo home run off of San Francisco Giants pitcher John Montefusco in the second inning as the Braves beat the Giants 4-2. It was the only home run Aaron hit off of Montefusco, who was making just his fourth major league start.
On September 13, 2006, Barry Bonds hit 732nd career home run off of Colorado Rockies pitcher Brian Fuentes in the ninth inning. It was the second home run Bonds had hit off of Fuentes in his career. Bonds is 8 for 10 (but with no walks) against Fuentes in his career. Colorado won the game 9-8.
Mariners fire two coaches
The Seattle Mariners cashiered bench coach Ron Hassey and "administrative assistant" Dan Rohn.
Mariners GM Bill Bavasi told both men that their contracts were not going to be renewed and they both opted to leave now rather than three weeks from now. It could be that Hassey and Rohn just didn't want to go to Kansas City, which is where the Mariners are headed for what should be a scintillating four-game series.
Orioles will bring Perlozzo back in 2007
Baltimore Orioles president of baseball operations announced that manager Sam Perlozzo will return in 2007. So what ever happened to Leo Mazzone's magical touch with pitchers? Can't someone just make all Orioles games disappear from the schedule for the rest of the year? Would anyone notice?
Three other pitchers out for the year
With Francisco Liriano likely out for the season, three other pitchers also were announced as being out for the season.
Armando Benitez will miss the rest of the year for the Giants with a right knee injury. Mike Stanton will likely keep the closer role for San Francisco.
Glendon Rusch was hospitalized with a blood clot in his lung, which was not considered life-threatening, but it will keep him out for the rest of the year.
Another pitcher playing it safe will be Rafael Soriano of the Mariners, who will not return after missing time after being hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero.
Francisco Liriano left the game in Minneapolis today against Oakland in the third inning with a sore elbow.
Francisco Liriano returned to the Minnesota Twins starting rotation this afternoon in a game at home against Oakland.
The Matsuzaka watch
For those wondering about Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who may be one of the most highly sought after free agents in the winter, here is the boxscore from his last outing.
Seibu increased its lead in the Pacific League to one game over Softbank and 1 1/2 over Nippon Ham as the Lions downed the fighters 6-0. Matsuzaka went the distance with 10 Ks, 2 BBs, 5 hits (all singles), and threw 121 pitches. His ERA on the season is 1.93. The league ERA is a little over 4.00.
Wednesday's full slate (September 13)
Because of a pair of rainouts, there are two doubleheaders scheduled for today and, weather permitting, 17 games on the slate.
The Mets, owners of the best record in baseball at 89-55, can clinch the first playoff spot in the majors if they beat Florida at Dolphin Stadium at 4:05 pm PT (Tom Glavine vs. Scott Olsen) and the Phillies get swept by the Braves in a doubleheader starting at 1:35 pm PT (Randy Wolf vs. Kyle Davies and Jon Lieber vs. Tim Hudson, although those matchups could change). The Mets magic number is 3 and they lead the Phillies and Marlins by 16 1/2 games.
In the NL Central, St. Louis holds on to a five game lead over Cincinnati and has a magic number of 14. The Cardinals are home to play the Astros at 11:10 am PT (Roy Oswalt vs. Jason Marquis).
Over in the West, the Dodgers lead the Padres by 1 1/2 games. They play at Chicago again, starting at 5:05 pm PT (Brad Penny vs. Angel Guzman). The Dodgers have a magic number of 18.
In the NL wild card (the Benito Santiago Division, there are five teams in contention: San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Florida, and Cincinnati. San Diego plays at Cincinnati at 4:10 pm PT (Jake Peavy vs. Kyle Lohse). The Giants are home to play Colorado at 7:15 pm (Jason Jennings vs. Noah Lowry).
Over in the American League, the Yankees hold on to the best record with an 87-56 record. They lead the Red Sox by 10 1/2 games and have a magic number of 9. New York is at home for a 4:05 pm PT start against Tampa Bay (Jason Hammel vs. Corey Lidle).
Detroit maintained a 1 1/2 game lead over Minnesota as both teams won Tuesday. The Tigers wrap up a two-game series at home against Texas with a 4:05 pm PT game (Kevin Millwood vs. Justin Verlander). The Twins host the AL West leading Athletics in a 10:10 am PT start (Dan Haren vs. Francisco Liriano). The Tigers have a magic number of 17.
Oakland's lead in the West was cut to 4 1/2 games over the Angels with its magic number stalled at 14. The Angels are at home to play the White Sox, who now trail the Twins by 2 1/2 games in the wild card and the Tigers by 4 1/2 games. They will play in a 12:35 pm PT game (Freddy Garcia vs. Joe Saunders).
They will also play:
Braves streak of divisional titles comes to an end
Without even picking up a bat and throwing a pitch today because of a rainout, the Atlanta Braves saw their streak of 14 straight divisional titles, starting in 1991 and running through 2005 (no winners were named in 1994), end tonight. The New York Mets rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the eighth inning at Florida to pull out a 6-4 victory. It was the Mets 89th win of the year. Atlanta cannot win more than 88 games.
The Braves still have a very, very, very long shot at the wild card. They are five games behind the Padres, but they are in seventh place in that race.
5 down, 17 to go
The Pittsburgh Pirates became the fifth team overall and the second in the National League to be mathematically eliminatd from playoff contention. The Pirates, rained out today, were eliminated when St. Louis beat Houston 6-5. It was the Cardinals 77th win of the season and the Pirates can win no more than 76.
Although the wild card leading Padres have 74 wins, there is no way for the Pirates to finish ahead of both the Dodgers and Padres (and a few other teams).
Harold Reynolds speaks
Maury Brown on his eponmyous blog has a transcript of an interview Harold Reynolds gave to Charlie Steiner on XM radio.
It's first time anyone has ever compared Harold Reynolds to Raymond Donovan.
(Link spotted on BTF.)
Pirates ready to switch flagship radio station
KDKA, which has been the Pirates flagship radio station since 1951 and broadcast the first baseball game on radio back in 1921, is being dropped by the Pirates for the 2007 season. The Pirates flagship station in 2007 will be an FM station, WPGB. WPGB is a Clear Channel station that already carries Steelers and University of Pittsburgh sports. Somewhere Edwin Armstrong smiles.
This year, the Cardinals dropped longtime flaghship station KMOX for KTRS, a station in which the Cardinals own a stake.
KDKA and KMOX are both 50,000 watt stations that could be heard for long distances.
KDKA is such an old radio station that it was allowed to have a call sign starting with "K" despite being east of the Mississippi River.
Time to flip for tiebreakers
Today was the day that MLB selected the home sites for the most likely tiebreaking playoff games.
The big winners were the Dodgers, who will get to play at home in any tiebreaker against San Diego or San Francisco.
The Astros would be home for a tiebreaker playoff for the wild card against any of the likely candidates except Florida.
In what is the most likely race to be a tie in the AL, i.e., the wild card, the White Sox would host the Twins.
More gory details about tiebreakers.
Antic Boy vs. Nice Guy
The Korean newsite Donga.com has a report on the battle between Yomiuri Giants slugger Seung-Yeop Lee (the "Nice Guy") and Hanshin Tigers pitching ace Kei Igawa (Antic Boy).
He is known for his wild and widely broadcasted antics. Igawa, a computer game and animation maniac, missed the championship ceremony because he was watching an animation cartoon. The day after he missed a TV animation broadcast of "Case Closed: Detective Boy Conan" because of a prolonged game, he came back the next day to pitch a shutout in revenge.
Igawa also says that he was inspired to become a professional pitcher because he wanted his little brother to be able to use him as a pitcher in his video baseball game.
As for Lee:
Although his trademark is his naïve appearance, Lee has been skilled at anticipating the pitches. He had a tough time his first year in Japan, but now in his third year, he has mastered the Japanese pitchers' routines. Of the first pitches he hit, he currently holds a batting average of 0.517 (30 hits from 58 at-bats) and 12 homeruns.
Lee leads all of Japan with 39 homers on the season. Michihiro "Guts" Ogasawara of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters leads the Pacific League with 31.
Balance, you must learn balance
This article from the Canadian Press quotes various managers discussing how they don't like the unbalanced schedule.
That's the way it used to be, when teams played 12 or 13 games against every other club in the league. It made sense before the wild-card era began in 1995 and makes even more sense now.
Omitted from this discussion is the fact that from 1969-1976, teams played teams in their division 18 times and teams in the other division 12 times. The AL switched to a schedule where you played each division rival 13 times and teams in the other division 12 times in 1978. This led to teams playing 78 intradivisional games and 84 interdivisional games.
Disparities in the schedule among wild-card contenders have been brushed off, but grumblings about it are starting to grow.
Why would baseball be inherently more interesting with a balanced schedule? It might be fairer, but it would be more interesting. There's still the small matter of the two leagues not having the same number of teams and only two divisions (NL Central and AL West) having an even number of teams, so they can assure that they will have intradvisional games on the final weekend.
Even so, on the final weekend there will be the following interdivisional matchups: Colorado at Chicago, Houston at Atlanta, and Tampa Bay at Cleveland.
There are a lot of problems with MLB's schedule. But I don't see what the problem with playing more games against teams in your own division than against teams outside of your division.
Tuesday's tumults (September 12)
Everybody is back in action today. Some teams are trying to hold on to a playoff spot for dear life. Some are trying to make a last stab at a playoff spot. And a lot of teams are just hanging out waiting to see how many more road trips they have to make before they can go home for the winter.
The best record in the majors belongs to New York. Flushing, to be precise. The Mets, even though they have been routed the last two games by a combined score of 25-6, still lead the NL East by 15 1/2 games over Florida and have a magic number of four and could clinch a playoff spot by Wednesday. The Mets play at Florida at 4:05 pm PT (Oliver Perez vs. Josh Johnson). The Marlins are now second in the wild card race, two games behind San Diego.
The Cardinals lead the Reds by five games in the Central, but their more dangerous threat is Houston, who still has six games left against St. Louis, although they are six back. Houston will play at St. Louis at 5:10 pm PT with Andy Pettitte tentatively annouced as the Houston starter against Jeff Weaver. Pettitte was supposed to start Monday, but was pushed back a day because of a sprained ankle.
The Dodgers lead the Padres by 1 1/2 games in the West and they finish up the always popular Milwaukee to New York to Chicago road trip with the start of a three-game series at Wrigley Field at 5:05 pm PT (Derek Lowe vs. Sean Marshall). The Dodgers have a magic number of 19.
San Diego plays at Cincinnati, who trails the Padres by 3 1/2 games in the wild card, at 4:10 pm PT (Chris Young vs. Eric Milton). The Reds have gone just 10-18 against NL West teams. Cincinnati needs a sweep to have any sort of shot at a playoff spot as the Reds don't play the Cardinals again. Even with a sweep, the Reds will be dependent upon the kindness of strangers to make the playoffs.
The Phillies and Giants both trail the Padres by 2 1/2 games for the wild card. The Phillies will be at Atlanta at 4:35 pm PT (Randy Wolf vs. Kyle Davies). The Braves will be eliminated from winning the NL East with a loss or a Mets win. The Giants host Colorado at 7:15 pm PT (Denny Bautista vs. Jonathan Sanchez).
Over in the AL, New York (Bronx variety) has the best record overall. The Yankees own a 10 1/2 game lead over Boston and a magic number of 10. New York will be at home to Tampa Bay at 4:05 pm PT (Tim Corcoran vs. Mike Mussina). The Devil Rays have won just 19 games on the road, the lowest total in the majors.
The Central division continues to get tighter. Detroit leads Minnesota by 1 1/2 games and Chicago by three games. The Tigers are home to face Texas at 4:05 pm PT as Vicente Padilla faces Kenny Rogers in a battle of surly individuals. The Tigers have not won a series since they took 2 of 3 from Boston at Fenway August 14-16. The Tigers have a magic number of 18.
Minnesota, the wild card leader, hosts AL West leader Oakland at 5:10 pm PT. Kirk Saarloos faces Matt Guerrier, normally a reliever. Guerrier will likely be out of the game after 65 pitches or so.
The Twins lead the White Sox by 1 1/2 games for the wild card. The Athletics lead the Angels by 5 1/2 games with a magic number of 14. The Angels are at home to face the White Sox at 7:05 pm PT (Mark Buehrle vs. Ervin Santana).
They will also play:
Pitchers coming back and lagging behind
Francisco Liriano has been activated from the disabled list by the Twins and he should pitch Wednesday at home against Oakland.
Andy Pettitte sprained an ankle shagging fly balls Sunday and won't start tonight against the Cardinals. Taylor Buchholz will start instead.
Mariano Rivera won't throw for another week.
I think I've found the suspect
The South Yorkshire (U.K.) police are looking for a man in connection with a recent robber in the area.
There is a sketch of the man here.
I think I know who it is. It's this guy.
Does anyone have an alibi for my suspect?
Last chance for the Pirates
Pittsburgh must win today to avoid being eliminated from playoff contention. Well, all they can do is delay the inevitable. As you can see from the RIOT numbers site, the Pirates need to win 18 of their last 18 games to avoid elimination.
I'll show my work too to get full credit:
St. Louis leads the Central with a record of 75-67. Cincinnati is
So, let's say the Pirates max out at 75 wins. If the Cardinals were to
But what of the other second place teams. If the Padres were to win
So there is no way for the Pirates to finish ahead of St. Louis,
Monday's melange (September 11)
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
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:
Relax Cubs fans. It was Travis Lee who was let go by Tampa Bay.
I think Lee's 2004 season with the Yankees may have been his most memorable.
Travis Lee was not the only Travis Lee in the majors either. Except the other guy has "Lee" as a middle name and Hafner as a last name.
4 down, 18 to go
The Chicago Cubs became the first National League team and fourth overall to be eliminated from playoff contention today. The Cubs lost in Atlanta 2-1, handing them their 87th loss of the season.
That means the most wins the Cubs can have is 75. NL Central leader St. Louis has 75 wins and second place Houston has 70 wins and with seven games left between the two teams, one of them will have to finish with at least 76 wins.
The Pirates could be the next team to walk the plank if Houston or St. Louis win today.
The Cubs can't win the wild card because they couldn't surpass both Houston and St. Louis. If Houston sweeps its last seven games from the Cardinals, but beats no one else, they would have 77 wins. This would mean then that the Astros would have to have lost four games to the Phillies who would then have at least 76 wins.
The RIOT number site listed the Cubs as needing 20 wins with 20 games left coming into today's game to avoid elimination.
Pacific League playoff dish is complete with some Ham
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters wrapped up the last spot in Japan's Pacific League playoffs with a 4-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes on Sunday.
The top three teams in the PL make the playoffs. The second and third place teams will meet in a best of three with the winner facing the regular season champ in a four-game series where the regular season champ will be spotted a win.
Over in the Central League, the Chuninchi Dragons have seen their once formidable lead shrink to five games over the Hanshin Tigers. The Central League does have a longer season and Chunichi has 29 games left to play and second place Hanshin has 22. Chunichi has been rained out a lot on the road this year.
As I'll be heading to Japan for the second round of the PL playofffs, I will be left with some geographical challenges.
The three playoff qualifiers play all over the place. The Fighters play in Sapporo. The Seibu Lions play in Tokorazawa and the Softbank Hawks play in Fukuoka. (The arrows should point to the cities as Google Maps seems to use Japanese characters.)
Sunday's soirees (September 10)
Just four more Sunday afternoons of regular season baseball, so enjoy them while you can. Since the NFL gets underway today, look for the baseball games to be appearing on some public access channel, so your local TV station can give you four hours of pregame discussion about how the Houston Texans linebacking corps is doing. But I live in the L.A. area, so I don't believe the NFL truly exists.
The American League continues to bunch up as the Tigers try to hang on to their spot atop their division and atop the league for best record. The Tigers lost to Minnesota again last night and their lead over the Twins is just three games and the White Sox are just 3 1/2 games back. The Tigers and Twins conclude their four game series at 11:10 am PT (Jeremy Bonderman vs. Johan Santana). The White Sox are home to face Cleveland, who will no longer have Travis Hafner this year because of a hand injury, at 11:05 am PT (C.C. Sabathia vs. Javier Vazquez). The Tigers have a magic number of 18.
The Yankees now have a ten game lead over the Red Sox and a magic number of 12. The Yankees are in Baltimore at 10:35 am PT (Jaret Wright vs. Hayden Penn). Penn has an ERA of 108, which one hopes will go down after this game. If not, it's going to be a long day. The Yankees are just 1/2 game behind the Tigers for best record in the AL.
Oakland leads the Angels by 5 1/2 games over the Angels as both teams lost Saturday. Oakland plays at Tampa Bay at 10:15 am PT (Barry Zito vs. Jae Seo). The Angels are home to Toronto at 12:35 pm PT. That could be one of the best pitching matchups of the season as Roy Halladay faces Jered Weaver. The two pitchers have a combined record of 26-7.
The National League story is mostly the New York Mets and then a bunch of other teams splashing around in the shallow end of the pool. The Mets lead the Phillies by 16 1/2 games in the NL East and have a magic number of 5. The Mets could clinch a playoff spot as early as Tuesday.
The Mets host the West leaders, the Dodgers, at 10:10 am PT (Eric Stults vs. Steve Trachsel). The Dodgers lead the Padres by 1 1/2 games and have a magic number of 20.
Over in the Central, the Cardinals still lead, but the team in second changed. St. Louis leads by five games, but the closest pursuer is now Houston, with Cincinnati dropping to third. The Cardinals magic number is 17, but they do have seven games left against the Astros, four of them in Houston.
The Padres lead what is now a five-team scramble for the wild card. San Diego leads Philadelphia and San Francisco by 1 1/2 games, Florida by 2 1/2 games, and Houston by 3. Philadelphia plays at Florida at 10:05 am PT (Cole Hamels vs. Dontrelle Willis). Houston plays at Milwaukee at 11:05 am PT (Wandy Rodriguez vs. Dave Bush). San Diego is at San Francisco at 5:05 pm PT (Woody Williams vs. Matt Morris).
They will also play:
3 down, 19 to go
Baltimore became the third team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Orioles were eliminated from AL East contention after losing to the Yankees in the afternoon. Then later in the evening, the top two teams for the wild card, Minnesota and Chicago both won.
The Orioles cannot win more than 83 games. The Twins and White Sox both have 82 wins and one of them has to finish with 84 wins since they play each other three more times.
The Cubs are next in line to be eliminated, but they will still be alive after Sunday regardless of what happens.
Hafner out for the season
In a move that will have some impact on the playoff hopes of many other teams, Cleveland DH Travis Hafner will miss the rest of the season with a hand injury.
Cleveland has five games left with Chicago (including one going on now), four with Minnesota, and four with Oakland.
September 14, 1974 - Henry Aaron hits career home run #731 in the fifth inning off of Padres starter Dave Freisleben at San Diego Stadium. It was the only home run that Aaron ever hit off of Freisleben, who was a rookie in 1974.
September 9, 2006 - Barry Bonds hits career home run #731 in the first inning at AT&T Park against Padres starter David Wells. It was the third time Bonds had homered against Wells.
Saturday's samplings (September 9)
A full day of action starts at 10:10 am PT and the last game doesn't get underway until 7:05 pm PT.
Two divisional leaders meet to start the day in the early game. The NL West leading Dodgers will be at Shea Stadium to take on the Mets as Greg Maddux faces Orlando Hernandez. Expect to hear the word "savvy" a lot. The Mets failed to come closer to clinching the East after losing to the Dodgers Friday night while the Phillies won. The Mets lead their division by 15 1/2 games with a magic number of 7. The Dodgers lead the Padres by 1 1/2 games with a magic number of 21.
The Central leading Cardinals also failed to get any closer to clinching after losing in Arizona while second place Cincinnati won. The Cardinals lead is now 5 1/2 games over the Reds and 6 over Houston. St. Louis has a magic number of 17. The Cardinals play at Arizona at 6:40 pm PT (Jason Marquis vs. Brandon Webb).
The wild card race involves five teams, more or less. The Padres lead the Phillies by 1 1/2 games, the Giants by 2 1/2, and the Marlins and Reds by 3 1/2. This leads to the question, who will the only man to play all for all five of those franchises, root for? Conveniently, four of the five teams are matched up against each other Saturday. San Diego is at San Francisco at 1:05 pm PT (David Wells vs. Jason Schmidt). Philadelphia will be at Florida at 3:05 pm PT (Brett Myers vs. Brian Moehler), and Cincinnati draws the Pirates at home at 3:10 pm PT (Paul Maholm vs. Aaron Harang).
In the American League, there is a lot of bunching up. The team with the best record, Central-leading Detroit, leads the wild card team, Minnesota by four games. East-leading New York is just 1 1/2 games behind Detroit. West-leading Oakland has the same record as Minnesota. Chicago is just 1/2 game in back of Minnesota.
The Yankees, leading Boston by nine games with a magic number of 14, play first at 1:35 in Baltimore (Chien-Ming Wang vs. Adam Loewen). An Orioles loss eliminates them from playoff contention if both Minnesota and Chicago win as well.
The White Sox are the next team up at 4:05 pm PT. The Indians and White Sox took turns blowing ninth inning leads Friday. Since the White Sox were the home team, they won. Tonight, it will be Fausto Carmona against Jon Garland.
Detroit will be at Minnesota at 4:10 pm PT. The Tigers hope to increase their four game lead in the Central and lower their magic number of 18. Nate Robertson will face Boof Bonser.
Oakland, leading the Angels by 5 1/2 games, plays at Tampa Bay at 4:15 pm PT (Esteban Loaiza vs. J.P. Howell). The Angels play host to Toronto in the final game of the day at 7:05 pm PT (Gustavo Chacin vs. Kelvim Escobar). The Angels are also 5 1/2 games in back of Minnesota for the wild card and have three games left with Chicago, although none with Minnesota.
They will also play:
Rangers rearrange chairs in the bullpen
Frank Francisco has been activated from the DL.
Completing the set
Jamie Moyer will finally have faced all 30 teams after he makes a start against the Marlins tonight in Florida.
He has wins over 27 different teams. In addition to the Marlins, Moyer has not defeated Colorado or Arizona.
Red Sox jettison Lopez
Javy Lopez, the catcher, was released by the Red Sox today. Lopez batted .190 with 16 Ks in 18 games for Boston.
Final Pluto add
In this thread about Pluto's non-planet status there was the following comment:
Another Cardinals pitcher falls by the wayside?
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Jason Isrignhausen of the Cardinals will miss this weekend's series with Arizona and possibly the rest of the season with a left hip problem. Braden Looper and Adam Wainwright will share the closing duties in the meantime.
Now it's time to weep
The New York Post reports that there will be FIVE MORE YEARS of Steve Phillips on ESPN.
Oh who will rid me of this meddlesome baseball analyst?
Tradition or a ball and chain?
Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri applauds Japan's Central League for adopting a playoff system for 2007 similar to the "junior" Pacific League. Additionally, there could be a bit of a change to the Japan Series.
The most interesting suggestion came from one of the IT-powered PL clubs, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who suggested selling the Japan Series' naming rights, as well.
Friday? Moving day? (September 8)
Everybody is back in action for the weekend and today we could see one team swap a yellow jersey for a checkered jersey and another team could give up its checkered jersey. And another team could be eliminated from playoff contention. Corrections in bold
A pair of division leaders matchup Friday. NL East leading New York, leading Philadelphia by 16 1/2 games with a magic number of 7, host Los Angeles at 4:10 pm PT (Hong-Chih Kuo vs. John Maine). The Dodgers lead in the West has shrunk to just 1/2 game over San Diego and they call from the lead in the West to the wild card with a loss and a win by the Padres. San Diego plays at San Francisco in the last game of the night at 7:15 pm PT (Jake Peavy vs. Matt Cain).
The other two principal wild card contenders, Philadelphia and Florida face off again at Dolphins Stadium at 4:35 pm PT (Jamie Moyer vs. Scott Olsen). After getting a no-hitter from Anibal Sanchez Wednesday, six Marlins pitchers combined to hold the Phillies to 17 hits and 14 runs Thursday night.
The Cardinals lead the Central by 6 1/2 games over Cincinnati and now have a magic number of 17. The Cardinals play at Arizona at 6:40 pm PT (Anthony Reyes vs. Livan Hernandez). Arizona has lost 16 of its last 20 games.
Over in the American League, Central leader Detroit plays at wild card leader Minnesota at 5:10 pm PT (Wil Ledezma vs. Matt Garza). The Tigers lead the Central by five games with a magic number of 18. The White Sox are just 1/2 game back of the Twins and host Cleveland at 5:35 pm PT (Paul Byrd vs. Freddy Garcia).
In the East, the Yankees are comfortably ahead of the Red Sox by nine games and have a magic number of 15. New York is at Baltimore with a chance to adminster the coup de grace to the Orioles microscopic playoff hopes in a 4:05 pm PT game (Corey Lidle vs. Erik Bedard). The Orioles would be eliminated from the AL East race if they lose to the Yankees, but would still on hold to a sliver of hope in the wild card if the Twins and White Sox win.
Oakland has a 5 1/2 game lead in the West over the Angels and have a magic number of 18. Oakland plays at Tampa Bay at 4:15 pm PT (Dan Haren vs. James Shields). The Angels are home to Toronto at 7:05 pm PT (A.J. Burnett vs. Joe Saunders).
They will also play:
Back to the bottom
The Pirates, thanks to a pair of home runs by Chris Duffy, beat the Cubs 7-5 at Wrigley Field. The win by the Pirates pushed them back ahead of the Cubs in the battle for fifth place in the NL Central, aka the battle to not have the worst record in the National League.
The Pirates are 57-84 and the Cubs are 56-84. Both the Pirates and Cubs are also battling it out to see who will be the first team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in the National League.
Coming into today, according to the fine people at the RIOT number site, both the Cubs and Pirates needed to win at least 19 of their remaining games to have a shot. Both teams can win a maximum of 78 games (they don't play each other anymore). The only way these teams can make the playoffs is to win the NL Central (I'm pretty sure of that, but I'm willing to see a scenario where either the Pirates or Cubs could finish behind St. Louis, but ahead of the Dodgers, Padres, Phillies, or Marlins.) If the Cardinals win at Arizona tonight, the day of reckoning will draw nearer.
Meanwhile in the AL, the Orioles could get their plug pulled over the weekend. And since they are playing the Yankees, it's extremely likely.
Thursday's tidbits: small, yet flavorful (September 7)
Just seven games scheduled today and two divisional leaders have the day off. But on the other hand, two divisional leaders play each other in the NL and a divisional leader and the wild card leader meet each other in the AL.
In the NL East, the Mets lead the Phillies and Marlins by 16 1/2 games and have a magic number of 8. The Mets start a four-game series at home against the West leaders, Los Angeles, at 4:10 pm PT (Brad Penny vs. Tom Glavine). The Dodgers lead the Padres by one game and have a magic number of 23. The Padres are idle before starting a three-game series in San Francisco over the weekend.
The Phillies open a four-game series against the Marlins in Florida at 4:05 pm PT (Jon Lieber vs. Josh Johnson). Both the Phillies and Marlins trail the Padres by three games for the wild card. Neither team plays San Diego the rest of the way.
St. Louis leads the Central by six games over foundering Cincinnati and has a magic number of 18. St. Louis will play at Arizona at 6:40 pm PT. The DBacks will likely get a hit this night as the Cardinals will send Jeff Weaver to the mound to face Miguel Batista. The Reds are off.
In the AL, East leader New York (9 game lead over Boston and magic number of 15) is off as is West leader Oakland (5 1/2 game lead over the Angels and magic number of 18). The Yankees will be in Baltimore over the weekend and Oakland will be at Tampa Bay.
Detroit's lead in the Central is now just four games although the Tigers manage to knock one off their magic number and drop it to 20. The Tigers open up a four-game series in Minnesota at 5:10 pm PT (Justin Verlander vs. Scott Baker).
The White Sox are just 1/2 game behind the Twins for the wild card and they host Cleveland for four games starting at 5:05 pm PT (Cliff Lee vs. Mark Buehrle). Cleveland plays seven games against the White Sox, four against Minnesota, and three against Oakland down the stretch, so they should have a say in who makes the playoffs.
The standings overall in the AL are tightening up. The Tigers lead the Yankees by just one game for the best record overall. Oakland is just 3 1/2 games back of the Yankees.
They will also play:
No-hitters miscellaneous facts
As I think of them....
Anibal Sanchez of Florida, as you likely know, tossed a no-hitter against Arizona Wednesday night. Prior to Wednesday, the last team to throw a no-hitter was Arizona, in the person of Randy Johnson on May 18, 2004.
The last team that had thrown the previously most recent no-hitter that was in turn no-hit was the Chicago White Sox.
Two players played in Johnson's perfect game and Sanchez's no-hitter, both of them Arizona players. They are Chad Tracy, who batted leadoff for the DBacks in 2004 (??!!), and Luis Gonzalez. Johnny Estrada of Arizona was the starting catcher for Atlanta in 2004, but did not play Thursday. Arizona shortstop Steven Drew's older brother, JD Drew, started for Atlanta in 2004. Juan Cruz, who pitched for Arizona in the 2006 game, was on the Braves in 2004, but did not appear in Johnson's perfect game as Mike Hampton went the distance for the Braves.
Anibal Sanchez is the sixth pitcher who has a last name ending in z to throw a no-hitter.
The last no-hitter by a Marlins pitcher was on May 12, 2001 by A.J. Burnett in San Diego. None of the members of the 2001 Marlins are still with the team. The only members of the 2001 Padres who are still with the team are Trevor Hoffman, Ryan Klesko (nominally), and Rudy Seanez, who was in Tour of Duty #2 with the Padres. He is presently on Tour #4.
No-hitters - UPDATED
The last guy to throw a no-hitter (complete games of nine innings or more) for:
Tigers release Young
The Detroit Tigers today cut loose troubled DH Dmitri Young today. The Tigers said the move was performance-related and had nothing to do with Young's legal troubles or his absence from the team for reasons that are officially unspecified, although Detroit papers reported that Young was in rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic.
Two NL Central pitchers out for the year
Mark Mulder will have shoulder surgery and is now officially out for the season for the Cardinals.
In Cincinnati, "Everyday" Eddie Guardado will miss the rest of the year and much of next year after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament which will require Tommy John surgery. The well-traveled Jason Johnson will take his spot with the team.
On August 24, the Reds were 67-61 and .001 behind St. Louis in the NL Central. Since then, they have gone 2-10 and trail the Cardinals by six games.
Schilling plans video game company
Reader xaphor passes along this link to a story about Curt Schilling, baseball's most famous EverQuest player, starting a video game company called Green Monster Games. Todd McFarlane is supposed to be part of the venture. Somewhere along the line, there will be a magical bloody sock.
The company name will likely not draw customers from the New York Metro Area.
The Nebraska Baseball Confederacy?
This AP report in the Washington Post has a description of a 30 hour, 84 inning game played in Alliance, Nebraska.
It's a great day and night for a game, let's play the equivalent of 9.3333!
USA beats Cuba to win Olympic qualifying event
Thanks to five home runs, two by Michael Bourn, the United States beat Cuba 8-5 in Havana to win the Olympic qualifying tournament. Both the USA and Cuba had clinched spots in the 2008 Beijing games. The game was played before an estimated crowd of 45,000 in Havana.
Wednesday's windings (September 6)
Bonus action today as a rainout in New York Tuesday has led to a doublheader at Shea Stadium between the Mets and Braves. The Phillies and Astros were rained out also, but that game will be made up on September 25. There's also plenty of daytime action. Although the last game of the day could create a tie atop one division, the NL West.
Four division leaders saw their leads get smaller, while two held ground. And the wild card leaders stretched their leads.
The Mets still have a magic number of 11 and a 15 game lead over the Phillies in the NL East. The Mets will play the Braves twice starting at 10:10 am PT (John Smoltz vs. Dave Williams then Kyle Davies vs. Oliver Perez). The Mets also hold on to the best record in baseball by a margin of 1/2 game over Detroit.
The Tigers saw their lead in the AL Central shrink to four games over the Twins. Detroit will finish its three game series against the Mariners at Comerica Park at 10:05 am PT (Gil Meche vs. Kenny Rogers). The Tigers have a magic number of 21.
In the AL East, the Yankees had their lead over Boston cut to eight games after they were shut out in Kansas City. The Yankees and Royals play the rubber game of their series at Kauffman Stadium at 5:10 pm PT (Randy Johnson vs. Runelyvs Hernandez).
Oakland has lost two straight to Texas and the Athletics lead over the Angels has shrunk to 5 1/2 games. Oakland tries to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Rangers at home at 12:35 pm PT (Vicente Padilla vs. Joe Blanton). The Angels host the Orioles at the same time (Daniel Cabrera vs. Ervin Santana).
The Twins increased their lead in the wild card to 1 1/2 games over Chicago after defeating Tampa Bay for the 14th straight time. The Twins go for 15 in a row over the D-Rays at 4:15 pm at Tropicana Field (Carlos Silva vs. Jason Hammel). The White Sox finish their series at Fenway at 4:05 pm PT (Jose Contreras vs. Kyle Snyder). The White Sox have scored just two runs the last two games against the likes of Julian Tavarez and Kason Gabbard.
Back over in the NL, the Cardinals maintain a six game lead over Cincinnati and a magic number of 19. The Cardinals send their ace, Chris Carpenter, to the mound in Washington against Mike O'Connor at 10:05 am PT.
West-leading Los Angeles has lost three straight and its lead over San Diego has shrunk to one game and its magic number has stalled at 24. The Dodgers play their last game against Milwaukee at Miller Field at 5:05 pm PT (Derek Lowe vs. Chris Capuano). The Padres, winners of four straight, go for a sweep over the Rockies at home at 7:05 pm PT (Jason Jennings vs. Clay Hensley).
The Padres now lead the wild card race by two games over Philadelphia. The Phillies will host the Astros at 4:05 pm PT (Andy Pettitte vs. Randy Wolf). The Marlins are three games back and play host to Arizona at 4:05 pm PT (Edgar Gonzalez vs. Anibal Sanchez). The Reds and Giants are both 3 1/2 games back and play what might be an elimination game for the wild card at 9:35 am PT (Jonathan Sanchez vs. Sun-Woo Kim). Sanchez is filling for Noah Lowry and Kim was just acquired from the Rockies.
They will also play:
Teahen out for the season
Kansas City third baseman Mark Teahen will miss the rest of the 2006 season after he and the Royals medical staff decided that Teahen should have shoulder surgery Friday in order to make it more likely that he will be 100% for 2007. Teahen has a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
The Yankees, Tigers, and Twins, all of whom have Kansas City left on the schedule, appeared to be in favor of the move. Esteban German and Jeff Keppinger will man third base the rest of the way for the Royals.
That's the sound of the Cubs falling into the NL basement as the Pirates have temporarily shed the title of "Worst Team in the NL". Jose Bautista scored on a Ryan Dempster wild pitch in the ninth inning at Wrigley Field as Pittsburgh beat Chicago 6-5.
Pittsburgh began the season 0-6 and had never been out of last place until tonight. The Pirates and Cubs play two more games Wednesday and Thursday at Wrigley.
Welcome back! September callups galore
Lots of comings and a few goings today.
There are likely ones I've missed as players are coming and going in bulk. It's sort of like Costco now. I think Wayne Krivsky has a pallet full of middle relievers in a checkout line.
Insert 'Reds acquire pitcher' headline here
And now it's Sun-Woo Kim aka Sunny Kim, aka guy with a 19.29 ERA in the majors this year, headed from Colorado to Cincinnati.
Tuesday's tussles (September 5)
One playoff spot changed hands yesterday, the AL wild card, and two division leaders increased their leads, three saw their leads shrink, and one stood pat. And the NL wild card race made me look up the spelling of the word "quadripartite."
The Mets are still the team closest to clinching a spot in the postseason, with a magic number of 11, and a 15 game lead over the Phillies. After giving up just one hit in a loss to the Astros Sunday, the Mets went and got just one hit at home against the combined efforts of Chuck James and Macay McBride of Atlanta. The two teams go at it again at 4:10 pm PT (John Smoltz vs. Dave Williams).
The Cardinals were almost no-hit by Ramon Ortiz in Washington Monday, but still managed to maintain their 6-game lead on Cincinnati. The Redbirds and Nats play again at RFK at 4:05 pm PT (Jeff Suppan vs. Pedro Astacio).
In the West, the Dodgers lost and the Padres won to cut L.A.'s lead to just two games. The Dodgers play at Milwaukee at 5:05 pm (Mark Hendrickson vs. Doug Davis.) The Dodgers have a magic number of 24.
The Padres lead the NL wild card race by 1 1/2 games over Philadelphia, 2 games over Florida, and 2 1/2 games over San Francisco. So it's time for the great quadripartite pennant race. There have been two players who have have played for San Diego, Philadelphia, Florida, and San Francisco in their careers. Yep, these guys.
Florida, which has come back from an 11-31 start to 69-68 (or 57-31 in that stretch) hosts slumping Arizona, losers of six straight, at 4:05 pm (Claudio Vargas vs. Dontrelle Willis). The Phillies host the Astros at the same time (Andy Pettitte vs. Randy Wolf). The Giants are at Cincinnati at 4:10 pm PT (Matt Morris vs. Bronson Arroyo). The Padres host the Rockies at 7:05 pm PT (Jeff Francis vs. Chris Young).
In the AL Central, the Tigers lead in the division increased to five games and the Tigers have a magic number of 21. The Tigers will be at home to Seattle in a 4:05 pm game (Jake Woods vs. Jeremy Bonderman).
AL East leading New York held on to a nine-game lead thanks to a 10-run eighth inning in Kansas City. The Yankees and Royals hook up again at 5:10 pm PT (Mike Mussina vs. Jorge de la Rosa). The Yankees have a magic number of 17.
Oakland's lead in the West was cut to 6 1/2 games over the Angels and the magic number held at 19. Oakland plays Texas at home at 7:05 pm PT (Adam Eaton vs. Kirk Saarloos).
The Twins took back the wild card lead with a 2-1 win over the Devil Rays on the road while the White Sox lost in extra innings in Boston, 3-2. Minnesota plays Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field at 4:15 pm PT (Johan Santana vs. Jae Seo). Chicago is at Boston at 4:05 pm PT (Javier Vazquez vs. Kason Gabbard).
They will also play:
Dan Wetzel says everything is no fun anymore
In a column that he likely slapped together in a few minutes, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports says we cannot trust that Ryan Howard is not on PEDs. Why? Because we can't trust anyone now. So, Ryan Howard is likely dirty.
Wetzel is applying for work at a star chamber near you.
So just what kind of World Series does this guy want?
Mike Freeman of CBS Sportsline opines that a Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees would be a bad thing for baseball. Freeman mainly thinks that this is so because it wouldn't get good TV ratings.
So what pairing in the World Series would magically draw people to watch the World Series? The all-California World Series of 2002 didn't draw well. Not a lot of people tuned in to watch the Astros and White Sox last year compared to other World Series. The World Series involving the Marlins didn't get good ratings.
I'm detecting a trend here. Perhaps the best World Series for TV ratings would be a replay of the 1975 World Series. Over and over and over and over and over.
I used to get all worked up over not wanting to see a Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets. Then there was one. I survived.
Giles gets clean bill of health for his heart
Atlanta Braves second baseman Marcus Giles received some good news in that he doesn't have a heart valve problem. The chest pain that he experienced last week in Philadelphia turned out to be a bad case of acid reflux.
Giles should return to the Braves for the continuation of their series in New York.
The 730s and other home run hitters
August 19, 1974, Hank Aaron hits career home run #730 against Claude Osteen of the Cardinals. It was one of 14 home runs Aaron hit against Osteen in his career.
September 4, 2006, Barry Bonds hits career home #730 against Aaron Harang of the Reds. It was the first time Harang had surrendered a homer to Bonds.
In another Bondsian move, Ryan Howard of the Phillies received a leadoff intentional walk in the ninth inning from Chad Qualls of Houston. The Phillies would win 3-2 in 10 innings on a Chase Utley home run. Howard had hit his 53rd homer of the season earlier.
2 down, 20 more to go
Tampa Bay became the second team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention today with a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins. The Devil Rays cannot win more than 79 games and the teams tied for the wild card lead, the Twins and White Sox, both have 79 wins and play each other again.
The next teams most likely to see their playoff hopes end are the Pirates and Cubs.
Blyleven suspended by Twins for 2 broadcasts
Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven, unaware that his mike was live when he said two profanities on air (they start with f!) was suspended for two broadcasts by the Twins.
Blyleven's mistake was compounded by saying it on over-the-air broadcast instead of on a cable channel. And the FCC doesn't like such words to be said over the air.
Labor Day doings (September 4)
While most of us have the day off, baseball isn't taking the day off and everybody is in action for the holiday. But go to bed early, there's school tomorrow!
As of today, the biggest leader remains the team with the majors best record, the New York Mets. They lead the Phillies by 16 games in the NL East and have a magic number of 11.
The biggest lead in the AL belongs to the Yankees in the AL East. The Yankees lead the Red Sox by nine games and have a magic number of 18.
Elsewhere, Oakland leads the AL West by 7 1/2 games over the Angels and sport a magic number of 19. Detroit leads Chicago by 4 1/2 games in the Central and has a magic number of 22.
In the other two NL divisions, St. Louis now leads Cincinnati by six games after the Reds went to the West Coast and lost 8 of 10. The Cardinals have a magic number of 21. The Dodgers lead San Diego by three games in the NL West and have a magic number of 24.
The White Sox lead the AL wild card by 1/2 game over the Twins. San Diego leads in the NL by 1 1/2 games over Philadelphia and 2 games over Florida. The Giants and Reds are 2 1/2 games out.
In one of the first games of the day, Florida will host Arizona at 10:05 am PT (Enrique Gonzalez vs. Brian Moehler). Also at 10:05 am, Seattle will play at Detroit (Jarrod Washburn vs. Nate Robertson) and St. Louis will be Washington (Jason Marquis vs. Ramon Ortiz). A Washington loss coupled with a Mets win would eliminate the Nationals in the divisional race although they still have a shot at the wild card.
The Twins will face the Devil Rays at 10:15 am PT (Boof Bonser vs. Tim Corcoran). If the Devil Rays lose or the White Sox win later in the day, the Devil Rays will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Right now, the best the Devil Rays could manage would be a three-way tie for the wild card with Minnesota and Chicago.
The Dodgers play at Milwaukee, losers of 10 straight, at 11:05 am PT (Greg Maddux vs. Dave Bush).
The Phillies, who seem to be just well enough to toy with their fans hopes, play at Houston, another team that does the same thing, at 12:05 pm PT. This will matchup Roger Clemens and Cole Hamels. Feel free to punctuate Cole Hamels as you see fit.
Texas plays at Oakland at 1:05 pm PT (Robinson Tejeda vs. Barry Zito). The Athletics are 29-15 against AL West opponents.
Cincinnati returns home and hopes to gain some revenge on the NL West teams that have soured their season. The Reds host San Francisco at 2:10 pm PT (Brad Hennessey vs. Aaron Harang). Barry Bonds is 16-for-32 in his last 11 games with five home runs.
The battle of the Sox will be fought in Boston at 4:05 pm PT. Jon Garland will be pitching for the White variety and Julian Tavarez will be pitching for the Red ones. Tavarez claims that Manny Ramirez will return to the lineup. David Ortiz is still out. Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek may play as well.
The Mets return home and host the Braves at 4:10 pm PT (Chuck James vs. Steve Trachsel). The Braves are 19 1/2 games back of the Mets.
The Yankees will be in Kansas City for a 5:10 pm PT game (Chien-Ming Wang vs. Luke Hudson). The Royals won four of their last games that they have played against playoff contenders Minnesota and Chicago. Hudson started six games in August and gave up 3, 3, 11, 1, 6, and 2 runs in each of them. The Yankees have won five of six from Kansas City, but all of the games were in New York.
The last game of major consequence will start at 6:05 pm when the Padres host the Rockies (Josh Fogg vs. Woody Williams). The Rockies have won 10 of 16 against the Padres this year.
They will also play:
Team USA secures Olympic berth
The USA secured a spot in the 2008 Olympic baseball tournament with an 11-5 win over Panama in Havana.
The USA is 7-1 overall in the tournament (losing to Venezuela) and will face undefeated Cuba Tuesday. The Cuban team has also wrapped up an Olympic berth.
The Beijing games should be the last time baseball is on the Olympic schedule. The USA did not qualify for the baseball tournament in 2004 when they lost in a single-elimination round to Mexico in qualifying. Frank Robinson was in charge of that team. (Yes, that was gratuitous.)
Davey Johnson is the manager of the US team now.
Barrett out for season; Gordon back from DL
Cubs catcher Michael Barrett will likely miss the rest of the season after having surgery to repair a groin injury suffered during Saturday's game. Matt Cain of the Giants fouled a pitch off and it hit Barrett in the groin and it did enough damage that it had to be treated immediately with surgery. (It's actually a bit more graphic than that, but you can click on the link to read about it.) Buck Coats was recalled, but the catchers will be Henry Blanco and Geovany Soto the rest of the way it appears.
In far less painful news, the Phillies activated closer Tom Gordon from the DL before today's doubleheader, so Arthur Rhodes can be kept out of the ninth inning for the time being.
USA one win from Olympic berth
After defeating Nicaragua 5-2 in an Olympic qualifier in Havana, the USA is just one win from clinching a spot in the 2008 Olympic tournament in Beijing.
The USA needs to defeat Panama tonight to wrap up a spot. That would guarantee the USA a top two finish in the tournament and an automatic berth. The USA plays Cuba on Tuesday in its last game. Cuba is close to wrapping up the other spot.
The other teams in the tournament will get another chance in the spring of 2008 to qualify.
Sunday's set-tos (September 3)
September 3 marks the last Sunday that baseball gets to use the sports stage without having the NFL butt in, so enjoy the 16 games scheduled for today.
It's possible that two playoff spots could change hands today.
The wild card slots in both leagues are still in flux. The White Sox lead the Twins by 1/2 game for the AL wild card. The Padres lead the Phillies by one game, but the Phillies are playing a doubleheader (the "traditional" doubleheader as the Phillies are calling it.)
The first big game of the day gets underway at 10:05 am PT. The Twins take on the AL East leading Yankees in the Bronx (Matt Garza vs. Darrell Rasner). The Yankees lead the Red Sox by eight games and have a magic number of 20.
The Phillies start their doubleheader against the Braves at 10:35 am PT. (Tim Hudson vs. Jamie Moyer in the first game and Lance Cormier vs. Brett Myers in the second game.)
NL East leading New York, leading the Phillies by 16 1/2 games with a magic number of 12, play at Houston at 11:05 am PT (Orlando Hernandez vs. Roy Oswalt). Also at 11:05, the Marlins will play at Milwaukee (Scott Olsen vs. Tomo Ohka). The Marlins trail by two games in the wild card race and the Brewers have lost nine straight.
The Chicago White Sox, who lead the AL wild card race, play at Kansas City at 11:10 am PT (Freddy Garcia vs. Mark Redman). The White Sox trail Detroit by just 4 1/2 games in the Central.
NL Central leading St. Louis hosts Pittsburgh at 11:15 am PT (Ian Snell vs. Anthony Reyes). The Pirates won an unlikely 1-0 game at St. Louis Saturday night. St. Louis has a magic number of 23.
At 1:05 pm PT, AL West leading Oakland hosts Baltimore (Hayden Penn vs. Esteban Loaiza). At the same time, the Reds take on San Diego (Eric Milton vs. David Wells, making his first start in his second stint with the Padres). Oakland leads the Angels by 7 1/2 in the West. San Diego leads Philadelphia by one and Cincinnati by 1 1/2 games.
If the Padres lose and the Phillies sweep, Philadelphia would take over the wild card. However, the Phillies have shown a singular ability to blow games when they can get to the wild card spot, so don't hold your breath waiting for this.
NL West leading Los Angeles hosts Colorado at 1:10 pm PT (Byung-Hyun Kim vs. Aaron Sele). The Dodgers have won seven straight and have moved past St. Louis for the second best record in the NL. The magic number for the Dodgers is 24.
At 5:05 pm PT, the Tigers get a rare Sunday night appearance, hosting the Angels (Kelvim Escobar vs. Wilfredo Ledezma). The Tigers have a magic number of 23.
Tampa Bay's playoff chances are pretty much zero after the Devil Rays loss to Seattle. Tampa Bay is now at 54-82. In theory, they could win out and tie the Yankees for the AL East. Their wild card chances are pretty much gone. The White Sox have 79 wins and the Twins have 78 wins and at least one or both of them will finish with 80 wins since they have three games left with each other. If you are curious, the Mariners play at Tampa Bay at 10:15 am (Felix Hernandez vs. Brian Stokes).
They will also play:
Arizona at Washington - Nats try to sweep the series
Welcome to the big leagues, Kevin Kouzmanoff
Kevin Kouzmanoff, a designated hitter who had his contract purchased by Cleveland from Buffalo earlier in the day Saturday, hit a grand slam home run in his first major league at bat. Kouzmanoff hit a grand slam in the first inning off of Edinson Volquez of Texas. He was the third player to start his major league career in this fashion.
The first was Bill Duggleby of Philadelphia against New York on April 21, 1898.
Then 107 years passed until Jeremy Hermida of Florida did the same thing against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 31, 2005.
'Traditional' doubleheader tomorrow in Philadelphia
The Braves and Phillies are scheduled to play what the Phillies Media Relations people are calling a "traditional doubleheader". In other words, two games for the price of one.
The press release says that this will be the first traditional Sunday doubleheader in the history of Citizens Bank Park. Apparently, the Media Relations people of the Phillies were not at the park on April 6 of this year when the Dodgers and Phillies split a 'traditional' doubleheader.
Tradition! Tradition! Tradition!
Sorry, it was a rush job.
Less purple in the NL West
The Arizona Diamondbacks are planning on changing their color scheme in 2007.
Presently, they are turquoise, copper, black, and purple. In 2007, they plan to change to red, sand, and black. They key is getting rid of the purple.
When the team began play, the club received feedback from various media outlets that the color purple is a difficult one to match up when it comes to graphics, logos and photos with the purple coming out looking either blue or black. Purple also was a challenging color to match up from a merchandising standpoint.
The logos are supposed to be changed a bit also. No word yet on whether or not Luis Gonzalez will still be around in 2007.
Saturday's bonus baseball, weather permitting (September 2)
If the weather holds up, there will be 18 games in the majors today. There will be two
The Phillies are scheduled to play their first game against the Braves at 10:05 am PT at Citizens Bank Park, Oscar Villareal should face Jon Lieber. The second game is scheduled at 4:05 pm PT (Kyle Davies vs. Scott Mathieson). The Phillies trail the Mets by 16 games in the East and the Padres by 1/2 game in the wild card. The Mets have a magic number of 14. The Mets will be at Houston at 4:05 pm PT (John Maine vs. Jason Hirsh).
The Yankees lead Boston in the AL East by eight games and play Minnesota at 10:05 am PT (Scott Baker vs. Jeff Karstens). The Twins trail Chicago by 1/2 game for the wild card. Since taking a 1 1/2 game lead over the White Sox in the wild card last Saturday, the Twins have lost four of five games and have scored just eight runs. The Yankees have a magic number of 21.
AL West leading Oakland, with a magic number of 20 and an 8 1/2 game lead over the Angels, plays at 1:05 pm PT at home against Baltimore (Adam Loewen vs. Dan Haren).
Detroit leads Chicago now by 5 1/2 games in the Central. The Tigers, with a magic number of 21, host the Angels at 4:05 pm PT (Joe Saunders vs. Justin Verlander). The White Sox are at Kansas City at 4:10 pm PT (Mark Buehrle vs. Odalis Perez).
NL Central leaders St. Louis, leading Cincinnati by five games, hosts Pittsburgh at 4:15 pm PT in a game matching Shawn Chacon and Jeff Weaver. Look for lots of relievers.
The Reds, who trail the Padres by a 1/2 game in the wild card (with Philadelphia in between them by a margin of .00005 over the Reds), are at San Diego at 7:05 pm PT (Kyle Lohse vs. Jake Peavy). The Dodgers, leading the Padres by four in the West, host Colorado at 7:10 pm PT (Aaron Cook vs. Brad Penny).
Florida sits two games out of the wild card although they are two games below .500 (66-68). Florida will be at Milwaukee, losers of eight straight, at 4:05 pm PT (Josh Johnson vs. Ben Sheets).
If the Padres win and the Phillies win both games, they would be tied for the wild card lead. If the Padres lose and the Phillies win both games, Philadelphia takes over the wild card. The Reds could move back into the wild card lead with a win over the Padres and if the Phillies lose a game to Atlanta. There have been 12 players who have played for San Diego, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia in their careers, including the irrepressible Benito Santiago.
They will also play:
With the first Saturday of college football starting, please ensure that your couch is in the proper condition for a day of sloth and that you have learned the most efficient way to flip between channels.
Lower the Jolly Roger! Pirates clinch losing season
With their loss to the Cardinals Friday night, the Pirates dropped their 82nd game of the year. That means Pittsburgh has now guaranteed its 14th straight losing season. The Pirates have not had a winning season since they won the NL East in 1992 with a 96-66 record. The next year Barry Bonds was a Giant. And then it got worse.
The closest the Pirates have gotten to .500 since then was in 1997 when they finished 79-83 and in second place in the NL Central. Previously the Pirates longest stretch of sub .500 seasons was nine from 1949 through 1957.
The record the Pirates are shooting for consecutive losing seasons is 16 by the Philadelphia Phillies from 1933 to 1948. During that stretch, the Phillies had four seasons where they had winning percentages below .300. Their best record during that stretch was a 69-85 record (.448) in 1946.
The AL mark for consecutive losing seasons is 15 held by the Athletics from 1953 (starting in Philadelphia) through 1967 (the last season in Kansas City).
The longest current streaks of losing seasons in the American League belong to Tampa Bay and Baltimore. They are both at eight seasons. The Devil Rays have 81 losses and will soon clinch losing season #9 and the Orioles are going to need an incredible September to avoid a losing season.
Brad Radke, broken, but not done yet
In addition to a labrum issue in his right shoulder, Brad Radke of the Twins has also been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right shoulder. And Radke still thinks he can pitch in 2-3 weeks.
In a salute to Radke, let's all raise our glasses about three inches off the table.
Lester diagnosed with lymphoma
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester has been diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which is supposed to be treatable, although it sounds very scary.
I'm definitely qualified to say anything more about it.
Just what the Phillies need
Although he won't be eligible for postseason play since he joined the team after September 1, the Phillies acquired Randall Simon from Texas in exchange for cash.
It's very important that the Phillies find a way to get production out of the first base position. Ryan Howard has been nothing but a disappointment at bat this season.
If Randall Simon is playing a game at first base, I believe that Charlie Manuel would be using Plan 75! for his lineup.
Great moments in Phillies-Padres history?
Presently, the Padres lead the Phillies by one game for the NL wild card. It's quite likely the two teams could be battling out the rest of the year for a spot in the baseball playoff derby.
However, the Padres and the Phillies are not exactly a pair of teams with a storied rivalry between them. Or really much of anything that bonds them together, except not appearing on MLB Extra Innings except when their opponent shows the game. The Phillies and Padres don't play each other the rest of the season.
The teams played two 3-game series in July. The Padres won 2 of 3 from the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park from July 4-6 and the Padres took 2 of 3 again at PETCO Park from July 17-19.
When the Phillies beat the Padres on July 4, it marked their 11th straight win over the Padres dating back to May 22, 2004. The Padres then won the next four games before the Phillies rallied in the ninth against Trevor Hoffman on a 2-run double by Bobby Abreu to win 5-4.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been 74 players who have played in the City of Brotherly Love and America's Finest City. (Perhaps this should be called the ironic civic nickname pennant race.)
The 74 players are not an impressive lot. The only player on either team now who has played for both teams is Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino. (Unless somebody I didn't notice sneaked in this year.) No one has been an All-Star while playing for both clubs. No one has played in the postseason for both clubs.
Dave Roberts played for both teams, but it's not the current Dave Roberts, but rather this Dave Roberts, the highly touted prospect from the University of Oregon. That Dave Roberts was more tout than talent.
The only position players who could be considered regulars for both teams would be John Kruk, Benito Santiago, Willie Montanez, Dave Cash, and Joe Lefebvre. Or at least in my opinion.
Overall, the Phillies lead the series between the two teams by a margin of 217-186.
In the last month, the Phillies will be playing teams from the East and Central exclusively. The Padres will be playing team from the West and Central exclusively. They will have no opponents in common in September.
It's going to be a very bizarre race to follow. I'm sure fans in Philadelphia will be scoreboard watching and chanting "Beat SD! Beat SD!" although will likely come out sounding like a public health advisory. Fans in San Diego will probably care more about catching the Dodgers for the NL West lead. Regardless, I'm sure the results will be forever etched in the memories of all people who consider the Phillies-Padres rivalry on a par with the Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants, and Cubs-Cardinals.
Onward to the wild card!
Friday's follies (September 1)
It's time for Septemberr baseball. Time for expanded rosters. Time for Tony La Russa to use nine pitchers in an attempt to get four outs. Time for guys you've never heard of coming in to pinch run in the late innings. It's the time for the pennant races.
With one month to go (and a game on October 1), there is only one team completely out of it: Kansas City, although Tampa Bay isn't long for the pennant race.
The best record in the majors is in New York and resides in Flushing where the NL East leading Mets are 82-50, a .623 percentage. The Mets lead the Phillies by 15 1/2 games and have a magic number of 15, the only team in the majors to have one under 20.
Two teams have magic numbers of 22, the AL East leading Yankees and the AL West leading Athletics. The Yankees lead Boston by 8 and the Athletics lead the Angels by 7 1/2.
The next closest teams to punching a ticket for the postseason lead the Central divisions. Both Detroit and St. Louis have magic numbers of 25. The Tigers, who have the best record in the AL, lead the White Sox by 4 1/2 games and the Twins by 5. The Cardinals now have a 5 game lead over the Reds, who have lost six straight.
The Dodgers have a magic number of 27 in the West. They lead the Padres by three games.
The wild cards are tight races. The White Sox lead the Twins by 1/2 game for the AL wild card. The Padres lead the Phillies by one game and the Reds by 1 1/2 games. The Astros and Marlins lurk 2 1/2 games back.
September 1 opens with a full slate of 16 games.
Detroit hosts the Angels at 4:05 pm PT (Ervin Santana vs. Kenny Rogers). The Yankees host the Twins at the same time (Carlos Silva vs. Corey Lidle). Also Philadelphia is at Atlanta (Jon Lieber vs. Oscar Villareal). Villareal has a 9-1 record, don't be taken in.
Next up, the Marlins, who had a nine-game winning streak end with two straight losses in St. Louis, plays at Milwaukee at 5:05 pm PT (Anibal Sanchez vs. Chris Capuano). The Brewers have lost seven straight games. The Mets play at Houston at 5:05 pm PT as well (Tom Glavine vs. Wandy Rodriguez). The Astros have won six straight.
The White Sox will be at Kansas City at 5:10 pm PT (Jose Contreras vs. Runelvys Hernandez). St. Louis hosts Pittsburgh at the same time (Zach Duke vs. Chris Carpenter).
Heading out to the West Coast are two games at 7:05 pm PT. Baltimore is at Oakland (Erik Bedard vs. Joe Blanton). Cincinnati plays San Diego for the first time this season (Bronson Arroyo vs. Clay Hensley).
Finally, the Dodgers will host Colorado at 7:40 pm PT (Jason Jennings vs. Derek Lowe).
They also will play:
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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