Pennant Race Fever: September 27
The White Sox and Cubs were eliminated from the AL Central and NL Central races yesterday. The Cardinals are the only team assured of a division title after yesterday’s action.
With eight days of play remaining in the 2009 season five divisions are still playing games that matter for the division leaders and teams not eliminated.
The Yankees and Dodgers could both clinch their divisions today. That would give both teams the chance to face each other in the World Series for the first time since 1981 when the Dodgers defeated the Yankees four games to two 28 years ago.
The Dodgers have not been in a World Series since they defeated the Athletics four games to one in the 1988 World Series twenty one years ago.
AL East: The Yankees can clinch the AL East title with a win today over the Red Sox before their hometown Yankee Stadium crowd. Andy Pettitte (13-7) will take the mound for the Yankees while the Red Sox pin their AL East title hopes on Paul Byrd (1-2).
AL Central: The Tigers and Twins both won yesterday. That reduces the Tigers magic number to seven and keeps their two game lead over the Twins. The White Sox were eliminated in their 12-5 loss to the Tigers.
If the Tigers win and Twins lose today the Tigers will be three games ahead with a magic number of five. If the Twins win and Tigers lose the magic number will stay at seven and they will be holding onto a slim one game lead in the AL Central. Their four game series with each other starts Monday in Detroit.
It doesn’t look good for the Twins today with Francisco Liriano (5-12) facing Zack Greinke (15-8). Meanwhile the Tigers send Edwin Jackson (13-7) to the mound against rookie Daniel Hudson (0-1) of the White Sox.
AL West: The Angels were seven and-a-half games ahead of the Rangers a week ago with a magic number of seven. Today the Angels have trimmed the magic number to four not much change for a week and their lead is down to five games.
They lost again while the Rangers won yesterday. While the Rangers were scoring 15 runs in their 15-3 win over the Rays the Angels were giving up 15 runs in their 15-10 loss to the Athletics.
Tony Saunders (14-7) will take the mound for the Angels against Edgar Gonzalez (0-3). Gonzalez has only allowed two homers in 60 innings while Saunders has given up 29 homers in 175 innings. Based on those numbers Gonzalez would project to have given up 6 homers in 180 innings.
NL East: The Phillies were eight and-a-half games ahead of the Braves a week ago with a magic number of six. Seven days later they are five games ahead of them with a magic number of four. The 7-5 walkoff loss to the Brewers last night shows how shaky the Phillies are.
Brad Lidge didn’t make an appearance yesterday but reliever Tyler Walker gave up a walkoff homer to Ryan Braun. Last season Lidge would have pitched the ninth inning but this year the Phillies are auditioning closers with a week left in the season after Lidge has been scored on in each of his last five appearances.
The Phillies are sending Joe Blanton (11-7) to the mound against Dave Bush (5-8) today hoping to extend their lead to six games with seven games left in the season after today’s game.
Meanwhile the Braves will start their ace Derek Lowe (15-9) to face Livan Hernandez (8-12) for the Nationals.
The Marlins can be eliminated today if they lose and the Phillies win.
NL Central: The Cardinals clinched the NL Central title yesterday but the Cubs went down fighting taking a 6-2 win over the Giants. Now the Cardinals can rest their starters but they don’t want to repeat the mistakes of other teams of the past who clinched early.
If I recall correctly the Cubs clinched early last season and then were flat by the time the postseason started.
NL West: The Dodgers have a six game lead with seven games remaining and a magic number of two to eliminate the Rockies. The Rockies send Jorge De La Rosa (15-9) to the mound to oppose Kyle Lohse (6-8) of the Cardinals.
The Dodgers will be starting Clay Kershaw (8-8) with Daniel McCutchen (0-2) getting the start for the Pirates.
Wild Card Races
AL: The Red Sox are six games ahead of the Rangers with a magic number of three with eight games remaining.
NL: The Rockies have a slim two and-a-half game lead over the Braves in the NL wild card race with a magic number of six to eliminate the Braves.
The Marlins have a magic number of four while the Giants and Cubs are hanging on with a magic number of three.