With Seattle’s victory over Oakland, the Red Sox have clinched home field through October if they can make it that far. Now it’s all pride. Comnent away.
Andy Pettitte gets the last start of his major league career in his hometown of Houston today. Thanks, Andy, it’s been a great ride.
A curveball in the AL wild card race: the Rays lose to the Jays, and both Cleveland and Texas take advantage. TB –, CLE –, TEX -1. The Rays have the home field tiebreaker advantage over Cleveland who have it over Texas who have it over Tampa Bay. Rock, paper, scissors! It’s still possible for Tampa Bay to be excluded from October baseball entirely, though still not likely. Boston won, Oakland won, and Detroit lost. So with Oakland clinching a tie with Detroit and holding the tiebreaker advantage over them, Detroit is officially the 3-seed. The magic number for the Sox to clinch best record, home field throughout the playoffs, and an ALDS date with the wild card winner, is 1. With a win (or a loss by all of OAK/ATL/STL), the Red Sox would clinch best record in MLB as well, though it’s a meaningless honor.
The Cards finally made it official and won the Central with their victory over the Cubs. Atlanta won, too, and that decides the 3-seed in the NL as well: the Dodgers. Atlanta and the Cardinals are tied at 95-65 with Atlanta holding the tiebreaker for seeding (so a Cards loss/Braves win = Braves win NL home field and face NL wild card in NLDS). The Pirates beat Cincinnati and are one win from claiming wild card home field advantage.
Games that matter today:
Angels (Richards) @ Rangers (Holland) 12:05 ET (this was bumped to an earlier time due to weather concerns/not wanting to play a doubleheader Sunday with so much in the balance)
Indians (Kazmir) @ Twins (De Vries) 1:05 ET
Pirates (Morton) @ Reds (Arroyo) 1:05 ET
Rays (Archer) @ Blue Jays (Happ) 1:07 ET
Athletics (Parker) @ Mariners (Maurer) 4:10 ET
Cubs (Jackson) @ Cardinals (Wainwright) 4:15 ET
Red Sox (Lester) @ Orioles (Chen) 7:10 ET (this game doesn’t matter if the A’s lose)
Phillies (Martin) @ Braves (Minor) 7:10 ET
The Bombers are in Houston with Adam Warren on the mound as the Yankees face Brett Oberholtzer to begin the final three games of their regrettable 2013 campaign, with a few melancholy partings being the last things that need tending. Comment away.
With a Sox win and an A’s loss, the Sox clinch best AL record. Go King Felix. Buchholz vs. Feldman, comment away.
As chosen by me.
I may have missed a couple of good ones. Here are some honorable mentions, at any rate, and you’ll see the Top 10 later today or maybe this weekend:
4/1: Lester and the Sox win the first game of the year 8-2 over the Yanks after a 69-93 2012, a horrific September/early October 2012 (7-22), and an 8-game losing streak to end that nightmarish season (and losing 12 of their last 13). This sets the tone for the new season and washes out some of the horrible aftertaste of 2012.
4/7: Middlebrooks hits three home runs against the Jays as Dickey is pounded and the Sox win 13-0, another dynamic-establishing win.
4/13: Lester and Price duel to a 1-1 stalemate. The Sox win on a walkoff infield single (to a 5-man infield) by Victorino in the 10th (though really, more like a fielder’s choice since they were playing to get the runner at home with 1 out…still don’t understand why they bothered throwing to 1st).
4/15: Napoli hits a walkoff double off the Monster on Patriots’ Day to win 2-1 over the Rays, but those events are soon overshadowed by tragedy.
5/6: Drew hits a walkoff double to the wall to beat the Twins 6-5 in 11 innings: it’s the only game the Sox will win in that 4-game series.
6/4: Red Sox pound Rangers 17-5 and come within an eyelash of scoring in all 8 home innings, but are stymied by position player David Murphy in the 8th despite a leadoff double.
6/6: Ron Washington elects to walk Dustin Pedroia in a tie game in the 9th with 1st base open so his lefty can face David Ortiz. Unsurprisingly, on the first pitch, Papi hits a bomb into the bullpen for the 6-3 walkoff win.
6/10: After the Red Sox score 2 in the top of the 10th against the Rays, Bailey allows 2 runs (a leadoff blast and a bases-loaded walk) himself and has bases loaded, nobody out, so the game seems to be all but over. Instead, Longoria hits into a 5-2-3 DP. Fuld tries to bunt the winning run in with 2 out, but Pedroia is having none of that and nips him at 1st. The game is won in the 14th when Nava and Salty drive in a run each and Morales completes his second inning of work in the bottom half. It killed me to leave this game off the final list.
6/18: Doubront goes 8 shutout at home and the Red Sox lead 1-0 over the Rays. Bailey coughs it up (something of a running theme) and it’s 1-1 going into the bottom half. Gomes cranks a 2-run shot off a sign over the Monster in left on the first pitch he sees and completes the doubleheader sweep. He punts his helmet before entering the scrum at home, as he will later punt beer into the stands during the division clinch celebration.
7/3: Gomes makes a habit of it, hitting a walk-off homer, on this occasion just barely into the Monster seats. This time, he fakes the punt, then runs it in, clutching his helmet like a football. 2-1 over the Padres.
7/11: Dempster is slapped around in Seattle, giving up 7 runs in 3.1 and the Red Sox trail by 3 after Wright is called in and allows an inherited runner to score. But Boston ties it in the next inning and Steven Wright then proceeds to throw the game of his life through the 9th, allowing no further damage. Wright earns the win when the Sox score once in the 10th and Uehara makes it stand up. This is another one that was painful to exclude.
7/21: After an epic seesaw battle on Sunday Night Baseball against the Yanks, Napoli parks one over the center field fence and the Fenway fans go home happy as the Sox win 8-7 in the 11th.
7/31: Michael Saunders is up for Seattle in the top of the 15th with 2 on and 1 out. He hits a hard, sinking liner to left and Ibanez is off and headed for home from 2nd base. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Gomes makes a great diving catch, and decides he’ll just take it to 2nd himself. (Some might call this selfish or showing up the other team by not throwing it to 2nd instead; I call it smart. The fewer fielders involved, the less chance of an error.) In the bottom half of that inning, Drew has the bases loaded and 2 out. He lines one down the right field line. It would probably be a double under typical circumstances, but it’s a single since the winning run scores from 3rd and the Sox win 5-4.
8/7: The Sox have not played well throughout the series in Houston, getting shut out in one game and making a 15-10 win appear close. In the rubber match, they are losing 5-4 in the 9th, when a couple guys get on for (again) Stephen Drew with 1 out. He destroys a hanging curveball to make it 7-5 and that’s your final.
9/10: Buchholz comes back from injury and throws 5 shutout against the Rays. Price gives up 2 in the meantime and the bullpen makes it stand up as the Sox win 2-0.
9/13: The Red Sox appear to be cruising to an easy victory over the Yanks at Fenway, but the Bombers chip away and tie it at 4 in the 7th. In the bottom half of that inning, Salty comes up and delivers big time with the bases loaded, a slam to right-center several rows over the bullpens. The Sox win 8-4.
9/19: John Lackey throws a complete game, marred only by Adam Jones’s homer over everything in left, and the Sox win 3-1 putting them in prime position to clinch the East the next day.
Edit: added the 9/13 game (wasn’t on the top 10 before or anything, just overlooked it) and fixed a few things.
The Rays, Tribe, and Rangers all won (again!), so it’s still TB 1 over CLE 1 over TEX. Tampa Bay plays in Toronto the next 3 days (so any chance of them not playing the wild card game is probably gone), while Cleveland continue their 4-game set in Minnesota, and the Rangers do the same with the Angels in Arlington. Both the Indians and Rangers won 6-5, but in completely different fashions, as Texas eked out a win thanks to a walk-off blast in an error-fest of a game that was tied for the last few innings, while Cleveland tried hard to squander a 6-1 lead in the 9th (Chris Perez is just not that good and had to be replaced for the last out after bringing the winning run to the plate). The Rays rolled the Yanks 4-0. Thanks a lot, Yankees, please enjoy your meaningless series in Houston now (I *do* hope Mariano plays center field for a few innings and records at least one out there…he also has a chance to lower his lifetime WHIP to under 1.000 if he can get at least two outs without giving up a hit or walk). The AL division leaders were idle yesterday; today, it’s BOS (96-63) @ BAL, OAK (94-65) @ SEA, and DET (93-66) @ MIA.
Atlanta won (94-65), St. Louis was idle (94-65), and the Dodgers lost (91-68). LAD is now almost a lock for the 3-seed, but it’s not official yet as they hold the tiebreaker against the Cards (if St. Louis were swept and the Dodgers sweep). The Braves have the tiebreaker advantage against both the Cardinals and Dodgers if it comes to that. The Bucs and Reds were both idle yesterday. As mentioned recently, today begins the series in Cincinnati between those teams, a series which will almost certainly decide homefield in the wild card game–whoever takes at least 2 of 3 gets the wild card game home field…unless somehow the Pirates sweep and the Cards are swept.
Games that matter today:
Red Sox (Buchholz) @ Orioles (Feldman) 7:05 ET
Rays (Hellickson) @ Blue Jays (Dickey) 7:07 ET
Tigers (Alvarez) @ Marlins (Koehler) 7:10 ET
Pirates (Burnett) @ Reds (Bailey) 7:10 ET
Phillies (Lee) @ Braves (Medlen) 7:30 ET
Angels (Wilson) @ Rangers (Ogando) 8:05 ET
Indians (Kluber) @ Twins (Hernandez) 8:10 ET
Cubs (Wood) @ Cardinals (Lynn) 8:15 ET
Rockies (McHugh) @ Dodgers (Kershaw) 10:10 ET
Athletics (Colon) @ Mariners (Hernandez, given the pitchers, this is the game of the night even if the playoff implications aren’t as dire) 10:10 ET
Selfishly, I just want the Rays to die somehow or other before the regular season ends (it’s not impossible, just unlikely, especially since they close the season in Toronto). More importantly, I want IH and his brother to have a pleasant experience tonight. So come on, Yankees. Make us all happy.
Interim commissioner resigns (for real this time!) in the mysterious future, cites arthritis caused by having to write and submit seven digit expense reports every month.
Boston won (Peavy was bailed out in a big way by his offense, though he did pitch 6 innings at least while giving Helton a home run and a double in his final home game for a retirement gift) and Oakland lost (stifled by Weaver and the Angels), so the Red Sox’ magic # for best record is 2 as they are up 2.0 with 3 to play for both teams (neither plays today). Scherzer got win 21 (a 1-0 duel with Correia) and the Tigers celebrated their third straight division title. The Yanks and Royals were shoved from October baseball by Cleveland’s victory over the White Sox (with an assist from the Mariners, who shut out KC for the second straight game), so only TB, CLE, and TEX live on in the AL wild card race. All three of those teams won yesterday, so the order is still TB +1.0, CLE –, TEX -1.0.
St. Louis all but wrapped up the division yesterday with a victory over the Nats, while Pittsburgh lost to the Cubs. Cards magic #: 1. Atlanta lost, so they are a half game behind the Cards (down 1 in the win column) for best record, though, as written yesterday, Atlanta holds the advantage in the tiebreaker. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both lost, with the Pirates maintaining their 1-game lead over the Reds in the quest for play-in game homefield advantage. The two teams will play each other in Cincinnati this weekend and are 8-8 against one another on the season, so if the Reds win the series and tie the Pirates for final regular season record, the play-in game will be in Cincinnati. If the Pirates win the series, they’ll play at PNC on October 1st (I think this is all true…). Probably the most exciting series of the weekend.
Games that matter today (it’s not a full slate and a couple teams died yesterday):
Rays (Cobb) @ Yankees (Nova, final home game for Mariano, best wishes, IH!) 7:05 ET
Phillies (Cloyd) @ Braves (Hale) 7:10 ET
Angels (Williams) @ Rangers (Garza) 8:05 ET
Indians (McAllister) @ Twins (Albers) 8:10 ET
Dodgers (Volquez) @ Giants (Lincecum) 10:15 ET
Phil Hughes has the unenviable task of being the last bastion of hope for the Yankees on the bump, but even should he be PERFECT, it is entirely improbable that it would matter.
Jacoby gets some reps before October, as Peavy and Chacin duke it out in this two-game series finale. Go Sox.
Boston (trounced) and Oakland (complete game shutout by opposing pitcher Vargas) lost, so Boston remains a game ahead in the AL record chase (Boston will not be winning 100 games this year) and their magic # for the 1-seed is 4. Boston gets a Peavy-Chacin matchup while Oakland’s Straily gets to face ace Jered Weaver in each team’s respective series finale before their last off-day (and the A’s tangle with King Felix in Seattle on the Friday following, though they are throwing the in-more-ways-than-one formidable Colon to oppose, quite the matchup). Detroit guaranteed themselves October action with a win yesterday, but still has a magic # of 1 for the division title, what with Cleveland getting a SPECTACULAR WALK-OFF BLAST by Jason Giambi last night. With the Indians down to their last out and trailing by 1 with a man on, Giambi delivered for the umpteenth time in his career, and oh my, he hit that thing a long way to right. Baltimore was eliminated after Cleveland won and the O’s lost in extras to the Jays, while New York (tragic number: 1) and KC (2) were put on the brink with losses to TB and SEA last night coupled with Cleveland’s victory. Texas scraped a win in its game with Houston to stay 1 behind the Indians, who are 1 behind the Rays (the Rays win the tiebreaker with the Indians for home-field in the wild card, so the Injuns are effectively 2 back of TB as far as homefield for the wild card game goes). Cleveland has one more game at home with the White Sox today before going to Target Field for a 4-game season-closing set with the Twins; the Rays have two more with the Yanks, then three in Toronto; the Rangers have one more at home with the Astros and then 4 at home with the Angels (the Rangers will miss Weaver, presumably).
St. Louis (last night’s pitcher Wacha got 26 outs without giving up a hit, but lost it on a chopper by Zimmerman that barely eluded Wacha’s glove and generated a rushed throw by the shortstop) and Pittsburgh won (vs. the Nats and Cubs), while the Reds lost (to the Mets, ouch), so St. Louis’s division magic # is 3 (Cincy’s tragic # for the division is 2), and the Pirates look to keep homefield for the wild card game if St. Louis doesn’t let them tie (or somehow win) the division race. Atlanta won to stay half a game ahead (in the all-important loss column) of the Cards for NL best record…Atlanta has the tiebreaker advantage with St. Louis, so their magic # for the 1-seed is 4. The Dodgers won 2-1 over the Giants and are still in the best record chase, theoretically, though both Atlanta and St. Louis would have to tank pretty hard in the final days to earn the Dodgers the honor.
Games that matter today (which is still 80% of them):
Mets (Matsuzaka) @ Reds (Latos) 12:35 ET
Nats (Zimmermann, going for win # 20) @ Cards (Miller) 1:45 ET
Pirates (Liriano) @ Cubs (Arrieta) 2:20 ET
A’s (Straily) @ Angels (Weaver) 3:35 ET
White Sox (Axelrod) @ Indians (Salazar) 7:05 ET
Rays (Price) @ Yankees (Hughes) 7:05 ET
Brewers (Lohse) @ Braves (Maholm) 7:05 ET
Astros (Keuchel) @ Rangers (Perez) 8:05 ET
Tigers (Scherzer) @ Twins (Correia) 8:10 ET
Red Sox (Peavy) @ Rockies (Chacin) 8:40 ET
Royals (Santana) @ Mariners (Iwakuma) 10:10 ET
Dodgers (Nolasco) @ Giants (Zito) 10:15 ET
We all hate the f*ckin’ Rays. LET’S GO YANKEES!
John Lackey vs. Tyler Chatwood (who?). Will the Red Sox’ offensive abilities be challenged by the elevation or will that elevation just mean it’s launchball time, humidor be damned? Chatwood has struggled since returning from an entire August’s injury hiatus (in his 4 starts this month, he has one good one, against the Padres). Lackey is coming off probably the best start of his Red Sox career (CG 1-run 3-hitter with 2 BB and 8 K vs. Baltimore).
If the dream of 100 wins is to stay alive, they must win (the pitching matchup is substantially more favorable tomorrow, for what it’s worth, before the visit to Kryptonite Kamden). The AL top seed magic # is 5. Comment away.
All these, seen once again, have been as familiar to us as our dad’s light cough from the next room, or the dimples on the back of our once-three-year-old daughter’s hands, but, like those, must now only be recalled.