Pennant Race Fever: September 24
AL East: The Yankees and Red Sox both won yesterday keeping the magic number for the Yankees to clinch the AL East title at five. The Yankees are idle today while the Red Sox could move to within five and-a-half games of the Yankees with a win over the Royals today.
The two teams play each other starting Friday in a three game series in Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox need a sweep to close the gap to two and-a-half games assuming they win today. If the Red Sox lose today and tomorrow they will be seven and-a-half games behind the Yankees with the Yankees having only eight games left in the season.
AL Central: The Tigers and Twins both won as the magic number for the Tigers to clinch remains at nine with a two and-a-half game lead over the Twins.
Today Justin Verlander (16-9, 3.44 ERA) should have an easy win over Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 9.64 ERA) who starts for the Indians while the Twins are idle and could be three games ahead of the Twins by the end of the day. However that is why they play the games so anything can happen. A Tigers loss today could reduce their lead to two games.
The Tigers travel to Chicago to play the White Sox tomorrow and will face Jake Peavy and will be watching the scoreboard as the Twins face the Royals and Robinson Tejada who has allowed only 2 runs in 22 innings since becoming a starter.
White Sox are on the brink of elimination. Being behind two teams may be too much to overcome. If the Tigers win today the White Sox will be nine and-a-half games behind with ten games left to play.
AL West: The Angels who lost yesterday to the Yankees by a 3-2 score are having problems clinching the AL West as the pesky Rangers won’t go away but time is running out on the team that has surprised everyone this season.
The Angels have a six and-a-half game lead with ten games remaining and host the red hot Athletics on Friday. Meanwhile the Rangers will play the Athletics again today hoping to close the gap between them and the idle Angels to six games. The Rangers host the Rays starting Friday.
NL East: The Marlins in control of their own destiny defeated the third place Phillies by a 7-6 score in an exciting come from behind victory and the second place Braves won their third game in a row to defeat the Mets 5-2 in NL East action.
The Phillies could regain a half game of their lead with a win over the Brewers today. The idle Braves and Phillies play again on Friday against the Nationals and Mets respectively.
The Phillies blew a six and-a-half game lead with 12 games to go in 1964 and today hold a six and-a-half game lead with 11 games left to play this season. The Phillies will be playing the Brewers in a four game series starting today.
NL Central: The Cardinals could back into the NL Central title with a Cubs loss to the Giants. The only way the Cubs could win the NL Central now is for them to win the rest of their games and the Cardinals to lose all of their remaining games.
NL West: The Dodgers and Rockies both lost leaving the Rockies five games behind the NL West leader. The Dodgers magic number to eliminate the Rockies remains at six.
The Nationals defeated the Dodgers 5-4 and avoided losing their 100th game of the season. The Rockies lost to the Padres 6-3. Both teams play the same teams again today.
The Rockies host the Cardinals tomorrow and will be facing Chris Carpenter (16-4, 2.34) while Aaron Cook (10-6, 4.47) will go to the mound for the Rockies. It will be the first start for Cook since August 21.
Wild Card Races
AL: The Red Sox and Rangers both won yesterday leaving the Red Sox seven games ahead in the AL wild card race. The magic number is still five for the Red Sox to eliminate the Rangers.
NL: The Braves, Giants and Marlins all gained a game on the NL wild card leading Rockies. The Braves and Giants are each four games behind the Rockies while the Marlins are four and-a-half behind them.
The Cubs are still in the wild card race and are trailing the Rockies by seven and-a-half games but time is running out on them fast.
Looking at the 2009 Sporting News MLB Predictions
There are only ten days left in the 2009 baseball season so it is a good time to see how many teams in the Sporting News predictions still have a chance of winning:
They picked four of the six current division leaders correctly with a chance of being right in the AL Central picks having picked the Twins. Unless there is a miracle they will have also missed with their NL Central picks since they had the Cubs as the division winners.
The Sporting News picked the AL East teams in exact order. None of the AL Central picks predicted the correct positions of any team. I don’t see how they could have predicted the Indians and Royals ahead of the White Sox.
The only correct position predicted in the AL West is the first place Angels and they predicted the current last place Athletics would finish second in the division.
Can’t really complain about their NL East picks since nobody could envision the catastrophic injuries that befell the Mets. If the Mets were picked ahead of the Nationals that division would be exactly as it is today.
Switch the Cubs and Cardinals in the NL Central predictions and that division would be as predicted.
The Dodgers and Giants were the only teams in their current position in the predictions in the NL West.
The Cubs-Yankees World Series prediction will almost certainly be incorrect. If their prediction had been correct the Cubs would have been World Series champions for the first time since 1908.
If the Twins win the AL Central they would have picked five of six division winners correctly which is impressive but the season isn’t over and no team has clinched their division as of today.
The Cubs, White Sox and Giants could all be eliminated by the end of play tomorrow but the Giants and Cubs would still be alive in the NL wild card race.
Brad Lidge Meltdown Continues
If there was an award for player who played the worst after a great 2008 season Brad Lidge would be an easy winner of the award.
Last night was the last sorry episode of his 2009 season when the Phillies took a 6-5 lead into the ninth inning only to allow the Marlins to win on Brett Carroll’s walkoff single.
The same pitcher who was 41 for 41 in save opportunities with a 2-0 record and 1.95 ERA in 2008 has converted 31 out of 42 save opportunities in 2009.
This season Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA. He allowed two homers in 69 innings last season but has given up 11 homers in 55 innings this season. He gave up 15 runs in 69 innings in 2008 and 46 runs in 55 innings this season.
Lidge struck out 92 in 69 innings last season but only 59 in 55 innings this season. Batters hit .198 against Lidge in 2008 but are hitting .305 against him this season.
The Phillies may have a six and-a-half game lead but as long as Lidge remains as the closer their chances of winning the NL East are in jeopardy.
His 10.80 ERA in September has to be a major concern along with him giving up runs in each of his last four appearances. In those appearances he gave up six runs and eight hits in three and two-thirds innings.
Lidge’s 11 blown saves are three short of the NL record 14 saves recorded by Bruce Sutter in 1978.
If Charlie Manuel doesn’t remove him as closer soon we may be seeing the reincarnation of the 1964 Phillies mentioned earlier in this article.