When last we met, there had been a resolution to make this an ongoing process. Consider this a promise guaranteed.
(On a related note, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Orioles, and Royals fans should commence drinking heavily, with Nationals fans keeping a strong bottle of Scotch close at hand.)
Over the past week, we’ve seen the division leaders (with one exception) either widen their lead or clinch an outright postseason berth. Consequently, we’ll only touch on those in brief to begin before we get to the real races, a.k.a. the ones where nobody has any fucking idea of what’s about to happen.
1. Boston Red Sox – 93-61 – clinched a postseason berth, clinch Division Title with a win/Rays loss
2. Tampa Bay Rays – 9 games behind
The next time Boston wins a game, they will become the latest worst to first story, capitalizing on a new clubhouse environment, the return of John Lackey from wherever he was abducted last year, and the continued hitting prowess of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, and Co. Because of that, they’re terribly uninteresting to write about at the moment.
1. Detroit Tigers – 89 – 64, 99.9% chance to make the postseason
2. Cleveland Indians – 83 – 70, 6 games back, 64.4% chance to make the postseason
3. Kansas City Royals – 80 – 72, 8.5 games back, 9.2% chance to make the postseason
Meanwhile, the elimination number for the Tigers to clinch the division is 4, meaning a combination of Tigers wins and Indians losses will ensure their clinching the division. Barring a sudden realignment of the planets or Miguel Cabrera being eaten by Prince Fielder, this is also tremendously uninteresting to write about.
1. Oakland Athletics – 90 – 63, 99.9% chance to make the postseason
2. Texas Rangers – 83 – 69, 6.5 games back, 62.2% chance to make the postseason.
1. Atlanta Braves – 90 – 62, 99.9% chance to make the postseason
2. Washington Nationals – 82 – 71, 1.5% chance to make the postseason
Atlanta clinches with their next win or the Nationals next loss. As I type this, they’re across the street from me in the top of the 4th inning, leading the Cubs 5-1. Celebrations will be a mere formality at this point.
1. St Louis Cardinals – 89 – 64, 99.9% chance to make the postseason
2. Pittsburgh Pirates – 88 – 65, 1 game back, 99.6% chance to make the postseason
3. Cincinnati Reds – 87 – 66, 2 games back, 99.0% chance to make the postseason
And HERE is where it starts to get interesting. Of the three teams, the Cardinals have the easiest stretch of games remaining, with a series beginning tonight in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, the Reds and Pirates trade three games sets over the next two weekends, with the first starting in Pittsburgh tonight. Assuming they split those series, the final standings should remain relatively consistent for the next week, with possible fluctuations possible. Should one of the teams collapse (or approach something resembling one), things might get interesting. The prevalent scenario (not to mention popular) is that the Pirates are the team most likely to fold, caving into the relatively new feeling postseason pressure. (The people claiming this most likely have never seen Andrew McCutchen play, however.) Should any of the teams slip around in the standings, however, they’re most likely assured of a Wild Card spot. Then again, as with all things, nothing is certain…
1. LA Dodgers – 88 – 65, clinched division
The Dodgers clinched last night. Ho hum.
AL Wild Card
1. Texas Rangers/Tampa Bay Rays
2. Cleveland Indians – .5 games back
3. Baltimore Orioles – 2 games back
4. Kansas City Royals – 3 games back
5. New York Yankees – 3.5 games back
Aaaaaand we have a race. Texas is still on a 2-8 tear, but was able to retain its spot over the past week, while the Rays failed to capitalize on the Rangers struggles by going 5-5 themselves. The Indians, meanwhile, have surged forward, though at just a 6-4 streak over the last ten games. Losing 2 of 3 to the Royals didn’t help their cause any, but a four game set against the Astros (to whom they dealt their 102nd loss last night) ought to be just what the doctor ordered. The Rays have to fight against Baltimore over the weekend, while the Rangers venture into Kansas City for a three game series – isn’t it fun how the schedule works out sometimes? You can see why Cleveland’s chances have greatly improved, given this slate of games – prevalent wisdom dictates that the four contenders playing against each other will cancel each other out (none of the teams listed above have managed to put together more than a four-game win streak this season, which speaks to the condition of their mediocrity), giving the Tribe the chance it needs to surge forward and claim one of the Wild Card slots as their own. Texas has played better on the road than at home, while Tampa Bay has a 47-30 record in spite of the debilitating atmosphere of Tropicana Field, so in order for the Indians to make their play, they HAVE to beat the Astros. You might say that picking on 51-102 teams is something that should happen for any postseason contender in order for them to feel legitimate about their October potential. (Texas is 14-2 against the ‘Stros, in case you were wondering.) Of the teams most likely to swoon, I would think Texas will continue their slide, falling 1 to 2 games behind Cleveland after the following week. Then again, all bets are off.
(Kansas City, by the way, has the best record of any of the teams since August 21st, at 15-8. The only thing that’s truly holding them back was their miserable start to the season, bringing about the old adage of “too little, too late”. This is why every game is important, even in April. On the other hand, they’re more of a lock to finish with their first winning record since 2003, which is little consolation when you haven’t made the postseason since George Brett played 3rd base.)
The Yankees visit San Francisco for the weekend, though at this point, it would take a small miracle for them to overcome the four teams ahead of them. Given how scrappy everything’s been over the last month in this race, they should start making plans for their offseasons sooner rather than later.
NL Wild Card
1. Pittsburgh Pirates, 1 game up
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Washington Nationals, 5 games back
This is about where we left off, following Pittsburgh and Cincinnati playing at a 6-4 clip over the last ten games. The Nationals, though surging with an 8-2 record, are also in the boat of “too little, too late”, squeezing in beside Kansas City. At the same time, the Reds fan in me is incredibly paranoid, because they’re playing 6 games over the next 9 against the team immediately in front of them, and the Pirates are salivating over the chance to return to the postseason for the first time since George H.W. Bush was President.
My fan’s dream is that Busch Stadium spontaneously combusts sometime over the next week, and/or Yadier Molina suddenly decides to retire to do something like hunt grizzly bears in Alaska or to take up deep sea fishing.
Hey, a man can dream.