Playoff Hopes Abound Through Organization

While the major league club looks to put themselves into the lead for the National League Wild Card, teams throughout the organization are also fighting for their post-season lives as the minor league season winds down.

Batavia MuckDogs

Currently, the MuckDogs (30-31) stand just two games out of first in the New York - Penn League's Pinckney Division. The league uses a wild card system and the 'Dogs are actually further out of that race, trailing Oneonta by four games.

The bad news is that Batavia must climb over three other teams - Auburn, Mahoning Valley and State College - to reach the top of their division. The MuckDogs beat Mahoning Valley 3-0 Friday night and wrap up a short two-game series with the Scrappers Saturday night in Batavia. The Scrappers are currently tied with Auburn for the division lead. The game will wrap up the seasn series with Mahoning Valley and the 'Dogs have already concluded their season schedule with Auburn.

There are four games left with the State College Spikes. The first two are in State College next Thursday and Friday and there is also a two-game set in Batavia September 4th and 5th. Ten of the MuckDogs' remaining 15 games are against Jamestown and Williamsport, who have a combined record of 51-69 on the season.

Lakewood BlueClaws

Playoff tickets are already on sale for Lakewood, but the division isn't completely wrapped up just yet. The 'Claws have a healthy ten game lead over Lake County, thanks to winning the first two games of their series against the Captains on the road. With both teams having ten games remaining, any combination of one win for Lakewood or a loss by Lake County and the division race is over. The two teams have two games remaining in Lake County and finish out the season with four games in Lakewood, but the race figures to be a non-issue by then.

When - not if - Lakewood wins the division, they would be matched up to play first-half division winner Lexington, who has gone just 26-35 in the second half. Lakewood started the season by dropping their first four games against Lexington on the road. The 'Claws returned the favor when Lexington rolled into Lakewood for a four-game series a couple of weeks ago and found themselves being swept out of town.

Clearwater Threshers

The Threshers have improved greatly over their dismal 2005 season and are still in the running for a playoff spot, but it won't be easy. Currently, Clearwater stands four games out in the West Division with Fort Myers and Tampa ahead of them. The Threshers have eight games left in the season. Their season series against Tampa has ended, but they have three games remaining against Fort Myers starting Monday night in Clearwater.

Clearwater plays in Sarasota (32-29) Saturday night before returning home for their series with Fort Myers. After that, they have two games at home against rival Dunedin (27-33) and two games at Dunedin to end the season.

Besides their series with Clearwater, Fort Myers has two games remaining in Lakeland (28-32), three in Clearwater, two at home against Sarasota (32-29) and three games in Sarasota to finish the season. Tampa (36-26), plays in Dunedin Saturday night and then travels to Sarasota for three games. They finish the season with four games against Lakeland - two on the road, followed by two at home.

The division winner would play Dunedin, the West Division winners from the first-half.

Reading Phillies

The playoff format in the Eastern League has the top two teams in the division advancing to the playoffs. While Reading can't win the Southern Division, they find themselves five games behind Altoona for the number two spot, with 11 games remaining. Unfortunately, none of those games are against Altoona.

Reading plays two more games this weekend against Connecticut (61-71) on the road before returning home for a five-game set with New Britain (59-71), which includes a make-up double-header with the Rock Cats on Monday night. They wrap up the season with four games at Trenton (73-59), leaders of the Northern Division.

Altoona plays in Harrisburg (60-71) this weekend and plays their remaining eight games at home against Akron (81-51, Southern Division leaders) and Bowie (62-70).

While things don't look too good for Reading, they're still not out of the running for a post-season spot.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons

The Red Barons have a three-game lead in the North Division of the International League with ten games left to play. Scranton plays second place Rochester in the final two games of the season on the road, which could be interesting. Third place Ottawa is seven games back with no games remaining against Scranton and fourth place Buffalo still has just the slightest bit of hope left at nine games out. Buffalo's chances have been squashed by losing the first two games of a four-game weekend set at Scranton.

Besides the season-ending series in Rochester, Scranton plays two more games at home against Buffalo and then welcomes in Syracuse (60-74) for three games. The two teams then switch venues, with the Red Barons playing three games at Syracuse before their two-game season ender at Rochester.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are currently tied for second in the NL Wild Card race. They stand 1 1/2 games behind Cincinnati, locked in a tie with San Diego. Arizona stands 3 1/2 games behind Cincinnati and San Francisco is four games out.

After their weekend series in New York, the Phillies don't play a game against a team with a winning record the rest of the way. Their road schedule consists of six games in Washington, seven in Florida and three each in Atlanta and Houston. At home, they have three against Atlanta, Houston, Chicago and Florida.

Cincinnati plays two more games in San Francisco this weekend and continues their west coast swing with three in Los Angeles and then a big three-game series with San Diego next weekend. They also have three games at home against both the Giants and Padres on the schedule. They also have three games at home against Pittsburgh and four against the Chicago Cubs. On the road, they have two more road trips to make after coming off the west coast. Their first will be three games in Chicago and three games in Houston and they wrap up the season on the road with three games in Florida and three more in Pittsburgh.

As for San Diego, they have the match-ups with Cincinnati to look forward to. They are playing in Colorado this weekend. They return home to play the Reds and Rockies and then have one more homestand next month with three games against Arizona and three against Pittsburgh. They hit the road for three games in San Francisco, three in Cincinnati and a big four-game series in Los Angeles. They also finish the season on the road with three games against the St. Louis Cardinals and four games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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