Who wants it? The weather is getting cooler and crisp. October is so close you can almost smell it. We're at that time of the season where pitchers battle through stiffness in their shoulder and hitters fight through knee pain. Ten teams still have a reasonable shot at the postseason. With just two and a half weeks to go, time is running out. It's now or never, put up or shut up.
Let's get to the latest
and greatest from around the league.
York Mets (81-63) - Billy Wagner will need Tommy John
surgery and has been officially shut down for this season and next. Still the
Mets are getting by and continue to lead the division. One big reason is the big
man they acquired this offseason, Johan Santana. He now boasts a 2.70
ERA, and in the typical Santana fashion we've come to expect in the second half
of the season, he hasn't lost a game since June 28th.
Philadelphia Phillies (79-66) - It's been the story all year:
Ryan Howard is
batting a dismal .241, but he leads the majors with 41 home runs and 125 RBI.
Just this past week he has four more home runs and eight RBI. As the push for
October continues, Howard isn't letting up.
Florida Marlins (73-72) - Hovering around .500, the
Marlins are going to have to work a monstrous finale to make the playoffs.
They've lived and died with the long ball all season long, unfortunately. They
rank third in MLB with 185 home runs, but are 16th with 666 runs scored. In
contrast, the Twins have only hit 100 home runs, but have scored an MLB
5th-best 726 runs.
Chipper Jones is
batting .359 and figures to be in a fight to the finish with Albert Pujols for the NL batting
title. Meanwhile, it's been 38 games since Mark Teixeira was dealt from the
Braves, yet he remained the team leader in RBI with 78 until this past week when
Brian McCann finally
passed him up.
Washington Nationals (56-89) - The Nationals have shown some
life the past couple weeks and need just seven wins in their final 17 games to
avert a 100-loss season. One promising young pitcher that has flown under the
radar in D.C. has been relief pitcher Steven Shell. In 33 games and 43.1
innings pitched, he is 2-1 with a 1.87 ERA and two saves. He's also held
opponents to a .185 batting average.
Chicago Cubs (86-58) - Losers of eight of their last
nine games the Cubs are struggling in September to find a groove. Still, they
are 28 games above .500 and continue to boast the best record in the NL.
Carlos Zambrano was
diagnosed this past week with tendinitis in his shoulder, but after a prolonged
rest, he's expected back in the rotation this weekend. Rich Harden, who also was given a
little extra time off, more of a precautionary measure, will start the finale of
a three-game set in St. Louis on Thursday.
Milwaukee Brewers (82-63) - The Cubs have opened the door
for the Brewers, but Milwaukee has stayed far away from the
threshold. In fact, they've allowed the Wild Card race to tighten a bit.
Solomon Torres has
two blown saves, two losses, and just one save in his last six appearances.
Since September began, the Brew Crew has scored more than five runs just once,
and they lost that game 6-5.
Louis Cardinals (78-66) - The Cardinals have gone through
some bullpen woes, but are still hanging around in the playoff hunt. It seems
like no one can put their opponents away for good. They've won three straight,
including the first game against the Cubs Tuesday night, a 4-3 come-from-behind
victory. Despite some recent discussion about Pujols possibly needing surgery on
his elbow in the offseason, the slugger continues to battle for the batting
title, and his three-run homer Tuesday night tied the game and woke the Cards
from their slumber.
Houston Astros (78-67) - The Astros continue to be one
of the hottest teams in baseball. Winners of four straight and 12 of their last
believes they'll be playing in October. When talks came up about Carlos Lee potentially being ready
for the playoffs, manager Cecil
Cooper was quoted as saying, "Put it this way, we'll be playing
in October, and I plan on having him." Roy Oswalt is definitely feeling
it. He's been lights out and has given up just one run in 24.1 innings in his
last three starts.
Cincinnati Reds (66-79) - Dusty Baker and the Reds get to
play spoilers. They scored three in the ninth to rally for a win in the rubber
game against the Cubs on Sunday, and then they scored three in the ninth to
rally for a 5-4 win against Milwaukee on Monday. Oh, and they pulled out
another 5-4 victory over the Brewers in 11 innings Tuesday night as well. Down
the stretch, they have nothing but games left with playoff contenders. Watch
Pittsburgh Pirates (60-84) - For the first time this decade,
perhaps even longer (I just didn't go further back than 2000), the Pirates are
in danger of not having a single pitcher earn at least 10 wins. Paul Maholm is the only starter
that has a chance. He's only 8-8 in 28 starts despite a respectable 3.74 ERA.
With the schedule as it is, he figures to have four chances to earn at least two
Angeles Dodgers (73-71) - The Dodgers swept the D'Backs
this weekend drawing the line in the sand and saying it's their division for the
taking. Derek Lowe
beat Dan Haren on
Friday tossing 8.0 scoreless innings, and Chad Billingsley took it to
Brandon Webb on
Saturday throwing 6.1 scoreless frames of his own.
(71-72) - With
three opportunities to earn his 20th win, Brandon Webb is 0-3. In those three
starts he has given up no fewer than six earned runs, and his past two losses
have come at the hands of the Dodgers. He's the anchor, and if the D'Backs are
going to make another run in the postseason, they need the Webb train back on
Colorado Rockies (67-78) - The Rockies have lost four of their last five games, yet they
are still only six games back in the divisional standings. If they can put a
string of wins together like they did last year, they could find themselves in
the postseason. But that's obviously easier said than done. Fewer ways to lose
can be as painful as what the Rockies
experienced Tuesday night. After scoring two late runs to force extra innings,
they lost in ten thanks to a run-scoring balk by Taylor Buchholz.
Francisco Giants (63-80) - Tim Lincecum threw 8.1 strong
innings Monday against the Diamondbacks, striking out nine and giving up just
one run. He lowered his ERA to 2.54 and raised his punchout count to 225, which
are both best in the NL. Lincecum also improved his record to 16-3 and may just
be the NL Cy Young Award winner in just his first full season in
Diego Padres (56-88) - Competing with the Nationals
for the worst record in the National League, the Padres have decided to play
spoiler and turn up the heat on their opponents. The beat Milwaukee 10-1 to earn a
split in the four-game, weekend series, and then took game one against the
Dodgers on Monday 4-0. Chris Young went the distance against the Brewers giving up just one
run on two hits, and Cha Seung Baek pitched 7.0 scoreless innings Monday to earn his first win
in over a month.
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