Pennant Race Fever: September 22
The Red Sox have all but clinched the AL wild card race with a seven game lead over the Rangers. However they may have blown the chance to win the AL East title last night.
The Red Sox staked starter Tim Wakefield to a 6-0 lead over the Royals in the third inning. At the end of five innings the Red Sox were ahead by a 8-5 score. The Royals scored six times in the sixth inning and had a 11-9 lead by the end of the frame and eventually won the game 12-9.
The Yankees who lost their game to the Angels could have had their lead reduced to four games but the Royals came back and handed the Red Sox a deflating win.
Wakefield who was 11-3 when he went on disabled list in July didn’t return to action till August 26 and hasn’t won since returning in three starts.
The Yankees and Red Sox have dominated the AL East. That is evident when looking at record of the Rays. They are four games over .500 but are 17 and-a-half games behind the Yankees.
The Twins have the identical 77-73 record of the Rays and are only two and-a-half games behind the first place Tigers in the AL Central.
It looks like the White Sox are on the verge of being eliminated from the AL Central race. They are seven games behind the Tigers but their first order of business to make up the four and-a-half games they are behind the second place Twins.
A loss for the White Sox tonight combined with a Tigers win would drop them to eight games off the pace with only 10 games remaining. It was a surprise that Daniel Hudson got the start for the White Sox but he pitched a creditable game allowing one earned run in five innings but his throwing error allowed two runs to score in the 7-0 shutout by the Twins.
Hudson leads White Sox starters in ERA with a 3.38 mark so I can see why Ozzie Guillen would give him the start. Jake Peavy should provide some stability to the starting rotation next season. A huge part of the disappointing season so far was the combined 8-19 record of the departed Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon.
It is not easy making up 11 games under .500 by two pitchers. John Danks and Mark Buehrle both have 12-9 records while Gavin Floyd is 11-11 so the first three starters have made up only six of those losses. Bobby Jenks and Scott Linebrink are a combined 6-11 this season while Jenks and Matt Thornton have blown a 11 combined saves.
Jermaine Dye’s second half slump has really hurt the White Sox and he now has only four hits in his last 38 trips to the plate. Alex Rios has hit safely only five time in his last 41 at bats. They are a combined 9 for 79 during this stretch.
Angels and Rangers both won so the Angels still lead the AL West by seven and-a-half games and could clinch the title by the end of this week.
The Braves barely are alive in the NL East after their win last night but they pulled even with the Marlins with both teams eight games behind the Phillies. They are also both five games behind the Rockies in the NL wild card race and only a game behind the second place Giants.
The Phillies and Braves are both 8-2 in their last ten games while the Marlins have been 5-5.
The NL Central leading Cardinals lowered their magic number to three with a 7-3 win over the Astros. They lead the Cubs by 10 games with 11 games remaining for the Cardinals and 13 games left for the Cubs.
Jim Hendry the Cubs GM has made at least one good move this season by acquiring Jeff Baker. I questioned the move at the time considering that Baker was 3 for 23 and hitting .130 for the Rockies. However since joining the Cubs he has hit .329 with a .359 average for the month of August and a .350 average for September.
The Giants took advantage of the Dodgers and Rockies being idle and gained a half game against both teams and now are five games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
Derek Jeter needs one hit to have 200 hits for his seventh season. He is 266 hits short of having 3000 hits which should happen in 2011….Robinson Cano still needs seven hits for his first 200 hit season while Hanley Ramirez needs 10 hits for 200.
Mark Reynolds hit his 43rd home run yesterday and he needs one RBI for 100 runs batted in this season and one more strikeout ties his own major league record of 204 strikeouts….Kendry Morales is one RBI short of 100 RBI’s for the first time in his career.
Josh Johnson has a 22-5 record over his last two seasons including the 2009 season….Brewers pitchers lead the majors in negative statistics with Braden Looper leading in home runs allowed with 37. Dave Bush leads in hit batters with 14 and Yovani Gallardo leads in walks with 94.
Clayton Kershaw has limited opposing batters to a .202 batting average which is the lowest for a qualifying starter in the majors. Tim Lincecum leads all major league pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings with a 10.52 percentage.