Pennant Race Fever: September 17
Before getting into the pennant race it is important to recognize the great Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell who was honored by the Tigers last night. It was recently announced that the 91 year old Harwell has inoperable cancer and Harwell accepted the news better than most of us would.
The following article tells what Harwell has meant to Tigers fans and Tigers players like Al Kaline and Brandon Inge.
AL East: Yankees and Red Sox both won yesterday as the magic number to eliminate the Red Sox remains at 11. The Red Sox won their seventh game in a row but the Yankees still hold a six and-a-half game lead in the AL East.
The Yankees have 15 games remaining while the Red Sox have 18 games still left this season. The Red Sox can gain a half game on the Yankees with a win today which would reduce the Yankee lead to six games.
AL Central: The Tigers and Twins both won yesterday while the White Sox lost leaving the White Sox with a six and-a-half game deficit and trailing the Twins by two games. White Sox and Tigers are active today while the Twins are idle.
Zack Greinke (13-8) and Edwin Jackson (12-6) face off in the Tigers-Royals contest today. Meanwhile John Danks (12-9) takes the mound against Brandon Morrow (1-4) in the White Sox-Mariners game.
The magic number for elimination is 13 for the Twins and 11 for the White Sox.
AL West: The Angels and Rangers both lost as the Angels extended their losing streak to three and the Rangers lost their fourth in a row. The magic number for elimination for the Rangers is still 12.
Josh Beckett (15-6) gets the start for the Red Sox while Ervin Santana (7-8) takes the mound for the Angels tonight while the Rangers are idle.
NL East: Phillies, Marlins and Braves all won yesterday in the NL East. The Phillies hold a seven and-a-half game lead over the Marlins and a seven game lead over the Braves. The magic number for the Marlins and Braves is 11.
The Braves extended their winning streak to six games yesterday with an exciting ninth inning comeback. Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy made a crucial error in the ninth inning that allowed the Braves to score the winning run.
All three teams play today with these matchups:
Nationals at Phillies: Cole Hamels (9-9) opposes Ross Detwiler (0-5)
Mets at Braves: Nelson Figueroa (2-5) goes against Jair Jurjjens (11-10)
Marlins at Reds: Jonathan Sanchez (2-6) will face Matt Maloney (0-4)
NL Central: The Cubs failed to take advantage of a Cardinals loss by losing to the Brewers by a 9-5 score. The magic number for the Cubs is now nine. The Cardinals are now eight and-a-half games ahead of the Cubs.
The Cubs fell even further behind the Rockies in the NL wild card race with three of the four teams ahead of them winning. Rockies hold a six and-a-half game lead over the Cubs.
Randy Wells (10-8) faces Dave Bush (4-7) in the Cubs-Brewers contest today with the Cardinals idle. The Cubs travel to St. Louis for a three game series with the Cardinals that will give them a chance to control their own destiny. Only a sweep will help since even one loss will reduce their magic number by two.
NL West: Dodgers and Rockies both won yesterday while the Giants fell to eight and-a-half games out of first place. The best chance for the Giants to reach the playoffs is to catch the Rockies in the NL wild card race. The Rockies hold a slim three and-a-half game lead over the Giants.
All three teams are off today before the Giants travel to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers tomorrow. If the Giants sweep the three game series the Dodgers lead would be reduced to five and-a-half games while a Dodgers sweep would give them a eleven and-a-half game lead.
The Rockies travel to play last place Diamondbacks of the NL West and then host the Padres who are fifth in the division in three game sets.
Diamond Notes: Red Sox and Athletics are 8-2 in their last ten games. The Red Sox also have the longest current winning streak with a seven game streak.
Adam Dunn and Hanley Ramirez need one RBI to have 100 runs batted in for the 2009 season….Aaron Hill and Kendry Morales are two RBI’s short of 100 runs batted in….Albert Pujols with 352 total bases holds a huge lead over second place Prince Fielder and Mark Teixeira with 309 each.
Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer are only major leaguers with an OPS over 1.000 with Pujols at 1.139 and Mauer at 1.051….Elvis Andrus, Orlando Cabrera and Chipper Jones lead all major leaguers in errors with 21. Jones has the lowest fielding percentage among the three players with a .923 mark.
Alfonso Soriano and Justin Upton lead all outfielders in errors with 11 each which is three more than the next players on the list.
Joe Mauer is hitting .374 and is hitting .423 for the month of September. He has hit .353 or higher each month of the season except in July when he hit .309. Mauer is hitting .401 against righthanders while hitting .333 against lefthanders.
Milton Bradley raised his average to a season high .267 on August 11 but now is hitting .256. He has only four hits in his last 33 at bats. After hitting .308 in the month of August he is hitting .184 in September.
Bradley’s numbers are a paradox in that he hits for a better average against lefthanders at .333 for the season but hits only .229 against righthanders.
Yet only one of his 11 homers has come against lefthanders. He has not hit well with runners on base unless the bases are loaded when he has hit .364.
However he has hit .000 when a runner is on third base, .167 when runners are on second and third and .205 with runners in scoring position. I doubt that anyone expected Bradley to drive in 100 runs since he had never done it before in his career but having 40 runs batted in on September 17 shows he has been a huge disappointment.
He has hit only one homer and drove in five runs since August 26. One positive for Bradley is that he is 24 at bats short of having the second most at bats in a season in his career.
The Cubs will now have to decide whether to keep Bradley and pay him the remaining $21 million he is still owed or to trade him and hope part of the contract will be picked up by the team that acquires him.
Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, and Kosuke Fukudome will have made $214 million if they stay with Cubs till their current contracts expire. That is $13 million more than the 2009 payroll of the Yankees.
Attendance continues to fall and these are a few examples from yesterday’s home games:
Orioles – 10,548….21.9 percent of capacity
Reds – 10,662….25.2 percent of capacity
The Marlins, Orioles, Blue Jays and Athletics have played to less than half full stadiums this season with the Athletics playing to only 40.7 percent of capacity.
Five of the six division leaders are in the top six teams in attendance with the Tigers being No. 13 because of the car industry being hit especially hard by layoffs.
Six teams have 5,000 or more less fans per game compared to last season.
Nine teams have increased attendance but Phillies and Dodgers are the only division leaders on the list. Four of the teams have increased their attendance by 533 or less fans per game.
Major league baseball has drawn 4,838,973 fewer fans this season with an average of 2,216 fewer fans per game. That number could increase to a loss of five million fans by the end of the season.
Even Bud Selig cannot put a positive spin on this situation. Free agents expecting huge multi-year contracts will be sadly disappointed except for a few elite players who will find a team willing to sign them to an exorbitant contract.