Entering the final week of the season, the formerly competitive NL West race has become nearly suspenseless (yeah, sure, that’s a word). The Dodgers have a magic # of 3 and are facing the Giants in a 3-game set at Chavez Ravine. If the Dodgers win even once in that series, things are pretty much in the bag for them. Win that series, and the Dodgers win the division officially.

The two Central division races are slightly more competitive with Pittsburgh 2.5 behind St. Louis, and KC 1.5 behind Detroit (KC lost a series to Detroit over the weekend). However, that 1.5 in KC’s case will likely drop to 2.0 before everyone else’s games begin today, as they finish a suspended game against Cleveland today where they trail 4-2 in the bottom of the 10th (and finish the game in Cleveland as the home team).

The AL wild card is still in play with Oakland holding a .5-game (soon to be 1.0-game) lead over KC and KC 1.5 (soon to be 1.0) over Seattle (Cleveland and NY struggle for life a little further back with Toronto all but mathematically out of it).

The NL wild card is basically over…but depending on the Central it could be STL or PIT that takes one slot and SF (almost certainly) the other. SF and Pittsburgh are tied right now (and Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker for hosting the wild card game). The last remaining team on the fringe (Milwaukee) saw their tragic number reduced to 3 over the weekend as they lost a series to the team they were (are?) chasing, Pittsburgh.

The 1-seed race is still alive in both leagues with the Angels (who must go at least 4-2 to win 100 games) holding a 3-game lead over Baltimore and the Nationals 2.5 over the Dodgers.

Contenders’ upcoming schedules:

BAL: @NYY(4), @TOR
DET: CWS, MIN(4)—wow, that’s a soft final week
LAA: @OAK, off, @SEA
OAK: LAA, @TEX(4)
KC: @CLE(4 including suspended game), @CWS(4)
SEA: @TOR(4), LAA

WSH: off, NYM, FLA (4 including doubleheader Friday)
STL: @CHC, off, @ARI
LAD: SF, off, COL
PIT: @ATL(4), @CIN
SF: @LAD, SD(4)

In the last couple days, the Yanks have climbed a little higher on the sheer cliff face they are attempting to summit. The matchup today would not seem to favor them, but they’re at home and just need to go 7-2 or so if the A’s will continue to falter. Stroman vs. Capuano.

Gausman vs. Webster and Buehrle vs. Kuroda. It’s really hard as a Sox fan watching a team that features no starter that portends a really competitive game. At least the Yankees have exciting rookies and the solid Kuroda. But I’ll be paying more attention to the series that starts between Detroit and Kansas City tonight.

Every team has between 9 and 11 games left to play, so we’re getting our last couple looks at each starter at this point. If the season is a baseball game, we’re heading to the bottom of the 9th. Derek Jeter has 8 more home games and 3 more road games. Dickey vs. Greene and Workman vs. Cole.

The Nationals and Orioles finished the job two nights ago and with an Angels win and on A’s loss, that division got sewn up last night.  Say hello to your AL East, AL West, and NL East division champions!  With a week and a half to go!  The Angels lead the hunt for the 1-seed over the Orioles by 3 games.  The NL 1-seed is closer with the Dodgers 1.5 behind the Nationals.

The AL Central (KC 0.5 GB DET), NL Central (PIT 2.5 GB STL), and AL West (SF 2.0 GB LAD) are all still too close to call.  The wild cards remain viable landing spots for Oakland, KC (or Detroit), and Seattle (2.0 GB) in the AL and for San Francisco (or LA), Pittsburgh (or St. Louis), and Milwaukee (2.5 GB) in the NL.

The Yanks aren’t dead, but they’d need an awful lot of help at this point.  The Rays were not obliging last night, pushing across the 1 run necessary to win yesterday’s contest in the bottom of the 9th (3 of NY’s last 5 games have ended with an opponent walk-off).  How will tonight’s affair end?  Pineda vs. Odorizzi. The Sox are dead, and they’re throwing out a terrible, terrible lineup–with Pedey out to hand surgery for the year and Papi taking it easy at the NL park–that can give Pittsburgh a hand in their disappearing chances at the NL Central crown (Pittsburgh holds the second wild card spot, but not definitively).  The back four in tonight’s lineup are Middlebrooks-JBJ-Vazquez-Ranaudo…woof.  Ranaudo vs. Morton.

The two East division leaders have a shot to close out their division title tonight by beating the 2nd place team (Baltimore vs. Toronto with a tragic # of 1, and Washington vs. Atlanta with a tragic # of 2–Miami also has a tragic # of 1, so a Nationals win will eliminate them as well).  The AL West will take at least another day past this to wrap up (and should likely be done before the weekend arrives with the A’s tragic # at 3).  The Central titles are still in flux (though KC is closer to Detroit than Pittsburgh is to St. Louis) along with the NL West (LA has only gained ground since this past weekend).  The best record race in the AL is still vaguely competitive with Baltimore 4 behind LA.  In the NL, the best record is still anyone’s game as St. Louis, the trailing division leader, is only 3.5 behind Washington and LA just a half-game back of the NL East beasts (hell, San Francisco still has an unlikely chance, 4.5 back).

Each wild card race features 3 teams fighting for 2 spots in the 1-game playoff.  In the AL: Oakland (+1.0), KC (–), and Seattle (-2.0) are the realistic contenders with Toronto, Cleveland, and NY still outside shots.  In the NL: San Francisco (+ 2.5), Pittsburgh (–), and Milwaukee (-1.5) are the competitors, while Atlanta and Miami hang out on the fringes.  Hopefully at least one of these comes down to the last day.

NY can’t have felt great hopping on a plane after Sunday Night Baseball to travel half the coast after giving up the 2 critical runs in the bottom of the 9th.  But the show must go on as Capuano takes on Colome at the Trop.  NY tries to keep its postseason tragic number from dipping into single digits (though that’s not entirely up to them).

In progress. 1-0 Yankees in the middle of the 2nd as the Yanks jockey for wild card positioning and the Orioles step closer to shutting the door on the division when Kuroda takes on Tillman.

Figured I should start this up because, somewhat incredibly, two teams will likely be division champions within a week, likely sooner: the Orioles (magic #5 vs. Jays, but the Yankees are also still technically in the division race with a tragic number of 4) and the Angels.  The Orioles deserve their spot here, with a very solid run differential and a pretty darn good starting staff and offense, with some great bullpen pieces (including Andrew Miller, traded from the Red Sox in his free agent year, who’s seemingly found his place in baseball after many years of not quite getting there as a starter).  The Angels surged mightily after the August/September collapse by the A’s, and they are a decent bet to win 100 games (need to go .500 the rest of the way)–though they did lose a very effective starter to injury for the season recently when he pitched against the Red Sox.  The NL East is also a technicality now, with Washington’s magic # at 6.

The Central division races are still fraught with Detroit and KC in a dogfight and Cleveland on life support in the AL, and St. Louis with a decent, but not final, 3.5-game lead over Pittsburgh (who the Sox play soon) in the NL.  The NL West is really a great story, with San Fran holding the lead early in the season, the Dodgers taking it and holding it most of the season, and now a true fight to the finish.  Yesterday, with the Dodgers holding a 1-game lead over the Giants, LA beat SF 17-0 to slightly lengthen that lead.

We’ve beaten them for two games in a row and all five in the season series.  And that’s felt pretty good at the time.  But I still can’t shake the feeling that the Royals should be winning and giving their fans something to cheer for.  But they can’t “just” win, they have to fight; we need to make it honorable, dammit.

So beat us, Royals.  Take it from us, we are highly beatable!  De La Rosa vs Guthrie.

Having endured a twin-bill sweep yesterday (and a heartbreaking loss in the first game), the Yanks look to keep their wild card hopes alive at 5 GB of Seattle and KC (with Oakland a mere half-game ahead of them…what a terrible second half for the A’s).  Once more unto the breach, dear enemies.

The Rays are still several days from being officially eliminated, while the Red Sox have succumbed to inevitability.  The Royals are fighting for a division title and the Yankees for a wild card spot.  Will the contenders take the day or will the spoilers put a kink in their October plans?  Pineda vs. Cobb and Buchholz vs. Hendriks.

With the Red Sox tragic number at one, and a day game between Chen and Workman, I went looking for poems about death and found this beauty by Edna St Vincent Millay:

 

And you as well must die, belovèd dust,

And all your beauty stand you in no stead;

This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,

This body of flame and steel, before the gust

Of Death, or under his autumnal frost,

Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead

Than the first leaf that fell,this wonder fled,

Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost.

Nor shall my love avail you in your hour.

In spite of all my love, you will arise

Upon that day and wander down the air

Obscurely as the unattended flower,

It mattering not how beautiful you were,

Or how belovèd above all else that dies.

Missed yesterday’s game.  A 4-0 loss.  So I wouldn’t say I missed it, really.

The next 12 are against contenders.  5 vs. Balty, 4 vs. KC, and a 3-game set with the Crew.  The Sox can lose all those games, whatever.  I’d rather a team with a suffering fanbase get some permanently happy memories than Red Sox fans get a transient, meaningless happiness for several minutes before we contemplate the end of the season some more.  But I’ll still be rooting for a win on a given day.  Tonight’s fail is brought to you by Tillman and Ranaudo.

The Yankees have no more off-days and a doubleheader with Baltimore this Friday (makeup for an August game) and all their remaining games are against the AL East.  The schedule is TB, @BAL (4), @TB, TOR (4), BAL (4), @BOS.  I don’t envy the Yankees the task of trying to grab a wild card spot (wait a minute, yes I do, the Red Sox’ tragic # is 3).  That quest begins with Archer vs. Kuroda at Yankee Stadium.