Most of the drama is gone, but not all. The 1-seeds have been obtained by LAA and WSH. The 2-seeds are BAL and LAD. The 3-seeds…well, that’s the main place it’s still interesting. The top two in each Central division are divided by just a game with 2 to play (KC 1 GB DET, PIT 1 GB STL). I hope at least one of them comes down to game 162…all right, I hope both come down to game 163.

As for the wild cards: KC clinched at least a wild card appearance yesterday and is a game ahead of Oakland…which might as well be 2 games, since KC holds the tiebreaker for who hosts the wild card game (so with the next KC win or Oakland loss, KC will grab home-field for the wild card, at least). Oakland is still not officially in as their magic # is 1 (with Seattle hoping everything breaks exactly right in the next two days–they would need to win both and for Oakland to lose both for them to tie). It will be Pittsburgh or St. Louis hosting the NL wild card game with San Francisco the visitors.

Games that still matter today:

PIT @ CIN (1:05 ET)
MIN @ DET (7:08)
KC @ CWS (7:10)
OAK @ TEX (8:05)
STL @ ARI (8:10)
LAA @ SEA (9:10)

It’s been a couple decades since neither team made the postseason (strike-shortened in ’94). Papi is hurtin’ and may not play; Jeter will only be available to hit. What a strange final series. I imagine the welcome for #2 will be pretty warm, really.

The Sox have won the last couple series on a lot of rookie power…one more, please.

Shellacked them yesterday 11-3, including 3 RBI walks with some of the worst pitching I have ever seen (really, look at the box plots of the strikezone/pitches). Give it to them one more time and then send them on their merry way to some probably-meaningless games in Cleveland (Cleveland’s tragic number is 1) to end their year. Today, Hellickson takes on Webster, and the latter has shown some flashes of promise in the tail end of the season. God knows we need some kind of rotation next year.

Hiroki Kuroda faces Kevin Gausman at Yankee Stadium today, the final home game of the season. There’s a player departing Yankee Stadium for the last time today as well. I was fortunate enough to see him in the minors, facing the Rochester Red Wings (who were then a Baltimore affiliate) at Silver Stadium back in the mid 90’s. It was an impressive debut in Rochester for the up-and-coming shortstop for the Clippers, and even then his presence was something palpable. You knew he would go on to greatness. We didn’t know that he would then go on to write such a story for the most storied franchise in baseball. Like last season with Mo, it is difficult to accept that Jeter’s tenure as a ballplayer has come to an end. But it is indeed the end of his time, and time for new stories to be writ.

Thanks, Captain. Comment away.

The Dodgers clinched the NL West behind a typically-excellent Kershaw yesterday. That leaves the two Central races, which are relatively close with four games to play. KC is 2 back of Detroit and has a tragic number of 3 for the division, while Pittsburgh is 1.5 back of St. Louis and also has a divisonal tragic number of 3. Both those teams have little or nothing to fear in their wild card spot security as Seattle and Cleveland have tragic numbers of 2 and 1, respectively, in the AL WC race (Oakland is currently tied with KC, and those two teams hold the spots as of today and for at least the next couple of days). In the NL race, the Pirates have guaranteed themselves a WC game, and San Francisco has the other position on lock as soon as they win another game or Milwaukee loses one.

The 1-seed race in the AL is likely over, as the Angels (who need to win this weekend’s series in Seattle to win 100 games) have a magic number of 2 over Baltimore, and the NL 1-seed looks non-competitive as well, with the Nats a combination of 3 Nats wins or LAD losses from clinching home field through the NLCS.

Buchholz had it going until Cespedes didn’t catch a catchable ball for the 3rd out in the 8th. Then it spiraled. F*ck. We still need those two wins to beat the 2012 team, dammit! Last time through the rotation. Ranaudo vs. Odorizzi.

If the Yanks lose, they are out. If they win, both KC and OAK would have to win for their elimination to be official. It’s a day game that’s in progress. Mid 1st, no score. Norris vs. Greene.

In the second game of this four-game set, we have the division champions and the relatively distant runner-up. But the pitching matchups don’t work that way as Ubaldo Jimenez (who has been a terrible free agent pickup) takes on McCarthy (who has probably earned another zero or so on the amount of his free agent deal in the time he has played with the Yankees). KC’s win yesterday lowered the Yankees’ tragic number to 3, but the 2009 Twins come to mind for guys who had no room to maneuver at the end and made it into October.

As the Red Sox begin their final, 6-game homestand, there aren’t many more goals left to pursue beyond “No one get hurt” (unless you count racking up losses for the draft pick slot). Still, there’s one milestone they could surpass. The Legend of Bobby Valentine (wasn’t that a time?) and his team won 69 games. This year’s Sox have won 68 with 6 to play. I hope it’s not asking too much for 2 more wins in that time frame, though looking at the pitching matchups, I’m not jumping for joy. Today, it’s Cobb vs. Buchholz.

Certainly Derek Jeter intends to (with 4 multi-hit games in a row going into today) as he begins his final regular season home series. The Yankees try to stay alive in the wild card race, 4.5 back with a tragic number of four. Not impossible, but the lights are dimming and they can’t do it without help. Chen vs. Pineda.

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.