Pennant Race Fever: September 29
With six days of baseball left in the 2009 baseball season only the Yankees and Angels are assured of division titles. The Angels took an easy 11-0 win over the Rangers last night to clinch the AL West title.
The Braves moved closer to the Phillies in the NL East with a 4-0 shutout of the Marlins while the Phillies were losing to the Astros by a 8-2 score. The Dodgers had lost to the Pirates 11-1 earlier in the day preventing them from reducing their magic number to one.
The most ballyhooed matchup of the day between the Twins and Tigers in Detroit never took place because the game was cancelled and two games will be played today to makeup for the rainout.
AL East: Yankees have clinched the AL East title.
AL Central: The Twins already had a tough road ahead facing the Tigers in a four game series in Detroit. Now those four games will be played in only three days due to the rainout last night.
The Twins will start Nick Blackburn (11-11) and Brian Duensing (5-1) against Rick Porcello (14-9) and Justin Verlander (17-9) in the doubleheader.
A doubleheader win for the Twins would give both teams 83-74 records and a tie for first place in the AL Central and the magic number would stay at six. If the Tigers win both games they would extend their lead to four games and reduce their magic number to two.
A split would reduce the Tigers magic number to four and their two game lead would still be intact.
NL East: The Phillies are 4-6 in their last ten games while the Braves have been 8-2 in that span while winning seven games in a row. It looks good for the Phillies tonight with a rookie Wilton Lopez (0-0) starting his major league game for the Astros today with J.A. Happ (11-4) starting for the Phillies.
Braves will have to defeat the Marlins ace Josh Johnson (15-5) today while sending Tim Hudson (2-1) to the mound.
A Phillies win and a Braves loss today would give the Phillies a five game lead with a magic number of one. If the Braves win and Phillies lose they would move to within three games of the Phillies with the magic number remaining at three.
The Braves would like to end the series with the Marlins with the magic number still at three since they end the season against the Nationals.
NL Central: The Cardinals have already clinched the NL Central title.
NL West: The Dodgers lost a chance to reduce their magic number to one yesterday with their loss to the Pirates. They hold a four and-a-half game lead over the Rockies with a magic number of two.
They could clinch the NL West crown with a win and a Rockies loss. The Rockies will be hosting the Brewers while the Dodgers travel to San Diego to play the Padres.
The Dodgers send Chad Billingsley (12-10) to the mound against Cesar Ramos (0-1) who is making his first major league start for the Padres.
Jason Marquis (15-12) starts today against Chris Narveson (2-0) of the Brewers. Marquis has only won once since August 19 and hasn’t defeated a team with a winning record since shutting out the Dodgers 3-0 on June 30 in a complete game two-hitter.
John Danks pitched the White Sox to a complete game three-hit win over the Indians with the White Sox taking a 6-1 win and his 13 wins is the most of any White Sox starter….Robinson Cano hit a grand slam in a 8-2 win by the Yankees over the Royals. Most of the regulars for the Yankees sat out the game.
Aaron Hill hit his 35th homer against the Red Sox last night. Only Carlos Pena with 39, Mark Teixeira with 38 and Jason Bay with 36 have more homers than Hill….Andy LaRoche was 5-5 with two homers and six RBI’s in the 11-1 win by the Pirates over the Dodgers. He has hit three homers and has driven in nine runs in his last three games.
The Phillies had only four hits in their 8-2 loss to the Astros. Cole Hamels was lucky the fan in the New ERA baseball cap commercial didn’t pay another visit to the mound with pitching tips for Hamel. Hamel was hammered for six runs and nine hits. He has given up 10 runs and 17 hits in his last 13 innings.
Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Phillies in their blowout loss showing where he stands with Charlie Manuel. Lidge found out it is easier to pitch when the team is already six runs behind.
Joe Mauer is hitting .371 and could be the third AL player since 1999 to hit over .370 with Nomar Garciaparra hitting .372 in 2000 and Ichiro Suzuki hitting .372 in 2004. 28 players have hit 30 or more homers this season with 11 players hitting 35 or more and five players have 40 or more homers in 2009.
23 players have driven in 100 or more runs in 2009 with Adrian Gonzalez needing two more RBI’s and Nick Markakis needing four more to reach the century mark….Ichiro Suzuki with 216, Derek Jeter with 207 and Robinson Cano with 202 are the only players with 200 hits this season.
Hanley Ramirez is four hits short of having 200 while Ryan Braun needs eight more to have 200 hits….Mark Reynolds is shattering his old strikeout record of 204 with 211 currently with six days left in the season.
The Braves are 13th in errors this season while the Cardinals are 16th. They are the only teams that have clinched or are still in the running among the worst 18 fielding teams. This statistic shows there is a direct correlation between shoddy fielding and winning.
Seven of the ten teams with the least errors have clinched their division or are still alive for a chance at the postseason.