Thursday, September 18, 2014
Post-Season Picture For Sept 18
Another day, another division. The Angels beat the Mariners on Wednesday night, the A's lost in excruciating late fashion to Texas, and Mike Scioscia's team was officially able to put a bow on its long-expected American League West title, joining the Nationals (National League East) and Orioles (AL East), who clinched their divisions Tuesday. But elsewhere around the Major Leagues on Wednesday, the Postseason Picture continued to change, and the Giants had something to do with that.
San Francisco rallied late to beat the D-backs, 4-2, while the Dodgers were pounded, 16-2, by the Rockies in Colorado. That turn of events enabled the Giants to pull within two games of Los Angeles in the NL West standings while maintaining their position as the top NL Wild Card contender.
The Central divisions continued to be centers of intrigue. In the AL Central, the Royals beat the White Sox and the Tigers lost to the Twins, which pulled Kansas City to within half-game of Detroit. That left the Royals and A's deadlocked in the two AL Wild Card slots with identical 83-68 records, with the Mariners two games behind. And in the NL Central, the Cardinals shut out the Brewers, 2-0, to keep their 2 1/2-game advantage over the victorious Pirates. As a result, the Giants and Pirates remained in the two Wild Card spots, with the Brewers another 2 1/2 games back and the Braves at 5 1/2 games behind.
IF THE POSTSEASON STARTED TODAY ...
Wild Card: A's at Royals
Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Tigers at Orioles
Wild Card: Pirates at Giants
Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers
In the AL Central, things are getting tighter again. The Royals beat the White Sox to pull to within a half-game of the Tigers, who lost to Minnesota, and once again that division is anybody's guess. It also had a direct effect on the Wild Card race, where the Royals and A's are tied and the Mariners are only two games back.
On Thursday, the Mariners will rely on ace Felix Hernandez to get them a road split in Anaheim, but he'll be up against a formidable foe in Jered Weaver. The A's will try to snap out of their funk against the last-place Rangers to stay atop the Wild Card race. In the Central, only a day off will interrupt the drama between the Royals and Tigers, both of whom will be idle before opening a pivotal three-game series in Kansas City on Friday. The Dodgers will get a chance to add a half-game to their NL cushion while the Giants travel to San Diego.
TODAY'S KEY GAMES TO WATCH (all times ET)
Rangers (Martinez, 3-11) at Athletics (Gray, 13-8), 3:35 p.m. Preview
Young right-hander Sonny Gray was lights-out in the late season of 2013 and the A's need him to lean on that experience here. Oakland simply can't afford to lose home games to last-place Texas in the middle of a pennant race.
Red Sox (Workman, 1-9) at Pirates (Cole, 9-5), 7:05 p.m. Preview
The Pirates will be looking to keep the mojo rolling when they hand the ball to their talented second-year pitcher, Gerrit Cole, in a game they must win if they're going to chase down the first-place Cardinals.
Dodgers (Greinke, 15-8) at Cubs (Wada, 4-3), 8:05 p.m. Preview
The Dodgers need a victory to get back on the right track after being routed in Colorado, and they'll get one of their aces on the mound in Zack Greinke.
Brewers (Lohse, 12-9) at Cardinals (Miller, 10-9), 8:15 p.m. Preview
Milwaukee is sinking out of contention and desperately needs a big effort on the road from starter Kyle Lohse and the rest of the roster, too.
Mariners (Hernandez, 14-5) at Angels (Weaver, 17-8), 10:05 p.m. Preview
Thursday's Major League nightcap also happens to be the best pitchers' duel of the day, with AL Cy Young Award contenders Hernandez and Weaver going pitch for pitch in a game that's vitally important to Seattle's Wild Card hopes.
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.
AL East: Orioles clinched
AL Central: Tigers 11 over Royals
AL West: Angels clinched
AL Wild Card 1: A's/Royals
AL Wild Card 2: A's/Royals 10 over Mariners
NL East: Nationals clinched
NL Central: Cardinals 9 over Pirates
NL West: Dodgers 9 over Giants
NL Wild Card 1: Giants 9 over Pirates
NL Wild Card 2: Pirates 9 over Brewers