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)
Cincinnati at Chicago - This is a day game. Productivity will increase because people must avoid watching this one.
Milwaukee at Washington - Tomo Ohka gets another chance to hang out with his pal Frank Robinson
Tampa Bay at Toronto - The DRays are just 1/2 game ahead of the Royals in the battle for worst record in the majors
Florida at Atlanta - The Marlins will likely finish ahead of the Braves, which is no mean feat considering how they started.
Seattle at Kansas City - I'll be paying less attention to this matchup tonight than I did on Thursday. M's eliminated with a loss or an Oakland win.
Colorado at Arizona - It will be tough for the Rockies to get out of the cellar facing Brandon Webb.