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Tuesday's trifles (September 19)
2006-09-19 04:00
by Bob Timmermann

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:
Atlanta at Washington - The Braves are just a game out of third. The wild card beckons!
Florida at New York - Albuquerque takes on Norfolk.
Baltimore at Tampa Bay - This is what Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention is all about.
Cincinnati at Houston - Because these teams play each other, the Cardinals can't lower their magic number by more than one.
Seattle at Texas - The Rangers are done if they lose and the Angels and Athletics win.
Los Angeles of Anaheim at Kansas City - This game is not being televised in Kansas City. But it's on free TV in Southern California! Rex Hudler will likely be excited about it.
San Francisco at Colorado - Presumably the Giants will give up fewer than 20 runs in this game.

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