Thursday, September 25, 2008
Rays, Dodgers Can Taste It; Phillies, Mets, Brewers Battle On
Players of the Day from Wednesday, September 24, 2008 American League Minnesota's Joe Mauer didn't get a hit in four at-bats, but he grounded into a first inning fielder's choice which plated the first run, and did the same in the second, driving in what proved to be the game-winner in the Twins' 3-2 decision over the White Sox. Minnesota now trails Chicago by a mere 1/2 game in the down-to-the-wire AL Central, and will have a chance to take the lead at home tonight as the division leaders wrap up their head-to-head series. In the East, Tampa Bay reduced its magic number to 1, dominating Baltimore, 11-6. Boston remained 3 back with a 5-4 win over Cleveland. Both have already qualified for the post-season. One more Tampa win or Boston loss will award the AL East title to the Rays. Notes: The Angels won their 98th game and are two ahead of Tampa Bay with the league's overall best record. The team with the best record in the league receives home field advantage in the playoffs and will host the wild card in the first series. National League Nomar Garciaparra homered, doubled, scored twice and drove in a pair as the Dodgers bombed San Diego, 12-4, reducing their magic number to clinch the NL West to 1. With the Cardinals knocking off Arizona for the second night in a row, LA is virtually assured of post-season action. A LA win or an Arizona lost will finish the job. Matters became more complicated in the wild card race. The Mets lost and the Brewers won, putting those two in a tie at 87-71. Philadelphia lost to Atlanta, 10-4, keeping the Mets close in the NL East race, down just 1 1/2 games. Notes: Obviously, the East division and wild card are going to be settled over the final weekend. The Mets finish their series with the Cubs on Thursday, and then host the Marlins in the final three game series. Those Cubs finish at Milwaukee. The Brewers have a Thursday game with Pittsburgh remaining before hosting the series. Chicago has great incentive, even though they've already clinched. At times this season, they have dominated the Brewers, so it's not expected that they'll lie down over the final weekend. Philadelphia would seem to have an easy route to the AL East crown. After a day off Thursday, they are home for three days with the lowly Nationals. A sweep assures the Phillies of the title. Washington needs just one more loss to reach 100.