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:
Boston at Toronto - The Blue Jays need to win the next two against Boston to move into second place.
Washington at New York - The Nationals try to regroup after losing Nick Johnson to a broken leg.
Chicago at Cincinnati - The Cubs are two games behind Pittsburgh to get out of last place.
New York at Tampa Bay - The Yankees lead the Tigers by 1/2 game for best record in the AL.
Cleveland at Texas - The Rangers flirt with falling under .500, but is it really flirting if no one pays attention?
San Francisco at Milwaukee - The Giants are 1-7 on a road trip in which they have given up 88 runs. And yet they haven't been eliminated.
Atlanta at Colorado - Wary NL East fans still aren't sure the Braves aren't going to make the playoffs.
After today, the Andy Ashby Division teams have left:
San Diego - at St. Louis (9/25-27), at Arizona (9/28-10/1)
Philadelphia - vs. Houston (9/25), at Washington (9/26-28), at Florida (9/29-10/1)
Los Angeles - at Colorado (9/26-28), at San Francisco (9/29-10/1)