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:
Boston at Baltimore - When a good pitcher appears in this game, please alert the media.
Kansas City at Cleveland - Cleveland needs to go 13-7 to finish at .500. Royals need to go 9-9 to avoid 100 losses.
Milwaukee at Pittsburgh - Bucs can avoid elimination if they go 19-0, the Cardinals go 0-19, the Astros go 6-13 with all the wins over the Cardinals, the Reds finish up no better than 5-14, and the Brewers don't finish better than 11-7. In other words, the best Pittsburgh can hope for is a three-way tie for first in the NL Central.
Washington at Arizona - Nats fans wait for Alfonso Soriano to steal a base. DBacks fans look forward to Washington leaving and Colorado arriving to simulate the feeling of having something to look forward to.
Toronto at Seattle - The Blue Jays have a good shot at finishing in second in the AL East. Anything to make that division look different.