Monday, August 11, 2008

The Pennant Race - 8/11

The Rays just keep on trucking. They squashed the Mariners, 11-3, on Sunday to set a franchise record with their 71st win. They also moved 4.5 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East after Boston lost to the White Sox, 6-5 on Sunday. The Yankees dropped back to 8.5 out.

The AL Central will be a fight to the finish with the Twins continuing to breathe down the White Sox' necks. Just a half-game separates the two teams. The Twins are also just 1.5 back of the Red Sox for the Wild Card.

The Angels, of course, are racing to the finish line in the AL West.

The Phillies continue to cling to the lead in the NL East, 2 games ahead of the Mets and 2.5 ahead of the Marlins. The Cubs have a healthy 4 game lead over the Brewers, while the Cardinals continue to fade, 7 games back, though just 3 out of the Wild Card.

And in the not so wild West, the Diamondbacks lead Manny and the Dodgers by 1.5 games.

The Diamondbacks got a big time performance on Sunday from their ace, Brandon Webb, who went out and became the majors' first 17-game winner. Bad news too though for AZ, as second baseman Orlando Hudson was lost for the year with a dislocated wrist.

The Diamondbacks go on the road to face the Rockies and Astros this week.

The Dodgers and Giants have always crushed each other's hopes no matter who was better, and that continued this weekend as the Giants took two walk-off wins in their three games. The Dodgers led 2-1 in the 10th on Saturday, but after the Giants tied the game on an error, Aaron Roward sent the Giants home as winners with a single.

A two run rally in the 9th on Sunday gave the Giants another come-from-behind win. With the score tied 4-4, light hitting Eugenio Velez provided the game-winning hit.

Manny is still doing his part though, hitting .459, 4-11 in 9 games. Tough week ahead for the Dodgers though, as they host the Phillies and Brewers.

The Mets were hoping to get a sweep over the Marlins, but Josh Johnson again showed how much Florida has missed him. He allowed 2 runs and 5 hits over 7 innings to improve to 3-0, 3.19, in his 6 starts this season. After establishing himself as the most consistent Mets starter after Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey has gotten pounded in two of his last three starts.

The schedule is favorable for the Mets this week as they go on the road to face the Nationals and Pirates.

The Phillies dropped the first game of their series with the Pirates on Friday, but got a huge start from Brett Myers (7.2, 1 ER, 5 H) on Saturday and came from behind on Sunday when Chase Utley belted a 2-run home run. It was Utley's first home run at home in over a month.

The Phillies go west for the Padres and Dodgers before returning home for a big 8-game homestand.

The Cubs took 2 of 3 from the Cards with a big outing from Ryan Dempster on Sunday. Dempster recorded 85 saves over the last three seasons, but has really stepped up in his return to the rotation, recording his 13th win in a 6-2 Cubs victory.

The Cubs visit the southeast this week to take on the Braves and Marlins.

CC Sabathia's reps must be drooling all over themselves. They had to be concerned when their big left-hander was slow out of the gate, but after turning things around in Cleveland, he has been dominating National League hitters with the Brewers. Sabathia tossed a complete game shutout of the Nationals on Friday. It was his fourth complete game in seven starts since the trade to the NL, and he now has seven complete games on the season. That total in today's game is like completing 35 games back in the 1970's.

Another pending free agent, Ben Sheets, gave the Brewers another lift on Saturday, when he tossed a complete game shutout of his own. Ned Yost finally relented and used the pen on Sunday in a 10 inning Milwaukee win. It came on a Gabe Kapler walk-off home run. Yost does have a concern now though: Ryan Braun's lower back. The stud second-year player injured it on Saturday and missed yesterday's game.

The Brewers visit SoCal this week to face the Padres and Dodgers.

Wait a minute. Are we imagining things? Well, not in this case. That really was Rocco Baldelli in Tampa's lineup on Sunday. The injury-prone outfielder went 1-4 with an RBI in his first major league game since May 15, 2007. His timing was perfect with Carl Crawford landing on the DL with a hand injury. Crawford felt something pop in Saturday's game and its been diagnosed as a tendon problem.

Tampa managed just a split of the four game series after blowing a lead in Saturday's game, but they still extended their lead with the Red Sox losing 2 of 3 over the weekend. Boston and Chicago go at it for a fourth time tonight.

The Rays travel to Oakland and Texas this week.

Much has been made of Clay Buccholz in Boston, especially after his September no-hitter, but the right-hander has struggled in his first full season in Beantown. Yesterday's loss dropped him to 2-8, 6.32 this season. The Red Sox also lost Tim Wakefield to the DL with a sore shoulder and Bartolo Colon has been slow in rehabbing an injured back. The Red Sox may turn to David Pauley or could pull Justin Masterson back out of the bullpen to take Wakefield's spot in the rotation.

The Red Sox start a 6-game homestand on Tuesday with Texas and Toronto coming to town.

The White Sox have hit five home runs in the first three games of their series with the Red Sox, and have belted a major league-leading 165 for the season. They have seven players in double figures, with Carlos Quentin leading the team with 31. Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome are both closing in on the 30-mark while Nick Swisher and Joe Crede are approaching the 20 home run level.

The White Sox host KC for a 3-game series and then go out west to face the slumping A's for 3 games.

No comments:

Post a Comment