Baseball Notebook

Daily Baseball Blog

Pennant Race Fever: September 26

Jason Varitek let the Yankees run wild on the basepaths last night with seven successful steals with Varitek unable to throw out a baserunner.

Jason Varitek let the Yankees run wild on the basepaths last night with seven successful steals with Varitek unable to throw out a baserunner.

Last night was not a good night for first place teams. The Yankees were the only first place team to reduce their magic number with their number being three after their 9-5 victory over the Red Sox.

The other five division leaders lost while the second place teams in their divisions all won.

AL East: The Yankees could clinch the AL East title as early as tomorrow with wins today and Sunday. C.C. Sabathia will be trying for his 19th win today so still has a chance to win 20 games this season with seven games remaining after today’s game.

AL Central: The Tigers 2-0 loss to the White Sox combined with wins by the Twins and White Sox tightened up the AL Central race. The Tigers have been 5-5 in their last ten games while the Twins have won 10 of their last 11 games and are two games behind the Tigers.

The Twins and Tigers start a four game series in Detroit on Monday with the Twins playing the Royals their last three games of the season in the Metrodome. The Tigers finish their season with three games at home against the White Sox.

The White Sox are showing some fight staving off elimination with a 2-0 shutout win over the Tigers behind the pitching of Jake Peavy and a two run homer by Gordon Beckham.

The last time the White Sox have won more than one game in a row is September 5 when they ended a four game winning streak showing why they couldn’t get closer to the Tigers and Twins since then. With the red hot Twins ahead of them in the standings they didn’t stand a chance with their 3-7 record in their last ten games while the Twins have been 9-1 in their last ten.

AL West: Both the Angels and Rangers have identical 4-6 records in their last ten games. The Angels number to eliminate the Rangers remained at four after yesterday’s action.

If the Angels haven’t clinched by the end of tomorrow’s games their four game series starting Monday at home against the Rangers will be important after all. Then the Angels travel to Oakland to finish the season against the Athletics.

NL East: The pesky Braves won’t go away and the Phillies magic number remains at six after Friday’s action in the NL East. The Phillies have a six game lead with  a magic number of four to eliminate the Braves. Each day without a win for the Phillies while the Braves win could remind them of the 1964 meltdown by the Phillies.

The Marlins didn’t take advantage of the Phillies loss by losing themselves to the Mets. A Phillies win and Marlins loss today could eliminate them from the race.

The Phillies finish the season at home against the Astros and Marlins. The Braves still have six games remaining against the Nationals and three against the Marlins playing their last seven games at home.

NL Central: The Cubs like the crosstown White Sox refused to go away again last night and like the White Sox shutout their opponent the Giants. Carlos Zambrano (9-6) pitched and hit the Cubs to a 3-0 victory limiting the Giants to two hits and driving in two runs with a double.

Zambrano outpitched Tim Lincecum (14-7) who has won only twice since August 1. The loss yesterday more than likely ended any chance Lincecum had of winning back to back Cy Young Awards.

NL West: The Dodgers couldn’t take advantage of playing the Pirates who have the second worst record in the majors by losing to them by a 3-1 score.

Their lead over the Rockies who won yesterday was reduced to five games while their magic number remains at four.

While the Dodgers were losing the Rockies were defeating the Cardinals who have been 5-5 in their last ten games. Chris Carpenter failed to win his 17th game despite allowing one run in seven innings.

The Dodgers travel to play San Diego two games starting Tuesday and then end the season at home against the Rockies.

The Rockies host the Brewers for three games starting Tuesday before the season ending series with the Dodgers.

Wild Card Races

AL: The Red Sox hold a seven game lead over the Rangers in the AL wild card race with a magic number of three to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

NL: Five teams remain in the NL wild card race with the Rockies holding on to their three and-a-half game lead over the Braves. Marlins and Giants are both five games behind the Rockies while the Cubs are still in the wild card race with a six and-a-half game deficit.

The NL wild card winner won’t be determined this weekend so this could go down to the wire.

Diamond Notes

The Yankees ran wild on Jason Varitek last night with Alex Rodriguez swiping three bases and Derek Jeter stole twice with Varitek behind the plate. In addition Robinson Cano and Johnny Damon stole against Varitek.

Last night could be an indication that Varitek’s days as a catcher in the majors may be over. He has thrown out baserunners only 15 times in 122 stolen base attempts.

He has been successful throwing out runners only 12.3 percent of the time while the AL leader Gerald Laird has thrown out 39 out of 92 for a 42.4 percentage.

Roy Halladay won his 16th game while shutting out the Mariners 5-0. Aaron Hill hit his 34th homer doubling his previous best 17 homer season of 2007….Ian Kinsler hit his 30th homer and became the first major leaguer to join the 30-30 club in 2009.

Carl Pavano won his 13th game yesterday and has only lost twice since August 13 and has been an integral part of the Twins starting rotation since joining the team….The Athletics started September with a 58-73 record and now are 74-80 for a 16-7 record in September.

Javier Vazquez (15-9, 2.83) has comeback from a (12-16, 4.67) 2008 season for the White Sox. Last season he gave up 214 hits in 208 innings but has given up only 173 hits in 213 innings in 2009 for plus 40 more innings than hits. He has lost only two games since June 27. The main difference is that he is defeating the best teams while last year he didn’t fare well against the better teams.

Brad Lidge pitched the seventh inning in the Phillies 8-4 loss to the Brewers and allowed a run to score for his fifth consecutive appearance. Lidge has placed his manager Charlie Manuel in a precarious situation. He has to find a new closer with only days remaining in the season since Lidge obviously is not up to the job.

Tim Lincecum has not won a road start since June 29 in St. Louis. He has been 9-2 at home and 5-5 on the road in 2009. He has not fared well in day games either with a 2-4 record while posting a 12-3 record in night games. He was 10-2 before the All Star break and since then is 4-5.

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