Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Pennant Race - 9/10

We're back from vacation, tanned, rested, and ready to get back to full posting. The races in four of the six divisions continue to be exciting. The Angels have a magic number of two to clinch the AL West, and the Cubs aren't losing any ground, because the Brewers are losing as much as the Chi-town team.

Things have really gotten crazy out in the NL West. The Dodgers lost eight straight in August before winning their final two of the month. They've since won seven of their first eight games in September to, remarkably, pick up five games on the Diamondbacks. LA has gone from 2.5 games out to 2.5 in front. Last night they trailed the Padres 2-0 in the sixth inning when Manny Ramirez's solo home run ignited a comeback. Andre Ethier drove in four runs, including a back breaking 3-run double in the ninth inning.

The Diamondbacks meanwhile lost for the 12th time in 15 games. Chris Snyder hit a game tying, 2-run home run in the ninth against Giants closer Brian Wilson, but Eugenio Velez singled in the game winner in the home half of the ninth.

The Blue Jays continue to muck up contending team's plans. Yesterday they out pitched and out hit the White Sox in a doubleheader sweep to extend their winning streak to 10 games. A.J. Burnett won his 17th game in the opener, allowing just one hit over seven innings in a 3-1 Blue Jays win.

The Jays won the nightcap 8-2 behind seven strong innings from Jessie Litsch and three home runs. News also got worse for the White Sox, already without Carlos Quentin, when Paul Konerko went down with a sprained MCL. He'll be further evaluated today.

The Twins took advantage of the White Sox double demise with a 7-2 win over the Royals. The victory moved the Twins back to within one game of the AL Central lead. Justin Morneau continued his run at another MVP award with his 23rd home run and RBI, 118 and 119.

When Jason Bay hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning last night, it appeared the Red Sox would overtake Tampa for first place in the AL East, but the Rays had more up their sleeve. Dan Johnson took Jon Papelbon deep for a game tying home run in the ninth. One out later, pinch-hitter Fernando Perez and Dionner Navarro stroked back to back doubles to give the Rays a 5-4.

Troy Percival came on in the ninth and faced a two out challenge when pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base and moved to third base on Navarro's throwing error. But Percival got Coco Crisp to pop out to end the game and push the Rays lead back to 1.5 games.

10-8. Important numbers in the NL East. The Mets blew a 5-2 lead to the Nationals and then had to rally from an 8-7 deficit to beat Washington, 10-8. Carlos Delgado went from first half boos to second half chants of 'MVP' with games like last night's in which he slugged two home runs.

The Phillies trailed the Marlins 9-1 before rallying behind Ryan Howard's 41st home run. They fell short though and the Marlins emerged with a 10-8 win, dropping the Phillies 2.5 games behind the Mets.

The Cubbies struggles continue. They led the Cardinals 3-0 last night before Albert Pujols hit a game tying 3-run home run in the sixth inning. The game would remain tied until the ninth when pinch-runner Bo Ryan came home with the winning run on Caesar Izturis' grounder. The victory moved the Cardinals to within 4.5 games of the Brewers in the NL wildcard race.

The Cubs didn't lose any of their lead though as the Brewers rallied back from a 4-1 deficit, only to lose to the Reds, 5-4, in 11 innings. Ray Durham hit the game tying 3-run blast in the seventh. The Brewers remain 4.5 back of the Cubs in the NL Central, while maintaining their 3.5 game lead over the Phillies in the wildcard.

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