Monday, September 5, 2011

Dropping like flies

As of 10:42 a.m. on Monday, September 5, 2011, four teams are eliminated from divisional hope and five are eliminated from wild card hope.  Houston and Baltimore are eliminated from both brackets; Florida and the Cubs are eliminated from their divisions; and Minnesota, Seattle, and Kansas City are eliminated from the AL Wild Card.  Who's next?

Tragic number of 1:

  • Cubs in NL Wild Card (22.5 back; Atlanta has 23 to play)
  • Washington in NL East (25 back; Philadelphia has 26 to play)
The Cubs host the Reds, the Nationals host the Dodgers, and the Phillies host the Braves.  So, if the Cubs and Nationals can both win, then only one can be eliminated.  Obviously, if they both lose, they're both eliminated.  I predict that the Nationals will beat the Dodgers, the Reds will beat the Cubs, and the Phillies will beat the Braves.  Then everybody goes home sad.

Tragic number of 2:
  • Kansas City in AL Central (20.5 back with 21 to play)
  • Seattle in AL West (21 back with 23 to play)
  • San Diego in NL Wild Card (21.5 back with 22 to play)
The perfect storm here would be Oakland beating the Royals, the Angels beating the Mariners, the Giants beating the Padres, and the Tigers beating the Indians, the Rangers beating the Rays, and the Braves beating the Phillies.

Folks, we could have five teams dreaming about next year after tonight.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Cubs Are (Officially) Out

Some interesting things happened yesterday.

Cubs lose whatever chance they had at winning the NL Central in grand fashion.  Coming into yesterday, the Cubs were 22.5 games back with 24 left to play.  They hosted the (4 games ahead) Pirates at 1:05 p.m., while the Brewers visited the Astros at 7:05 p.m.

Starter Casey Coleman lasted six innings and left with a 3-2 lead.  Almost immediately, his reliever Kerry Wood gave up the tying run: Ronny Cedeno tripled to lead off the seventh and scored on Garrett Jones's sac fly to deep center.  The Cubs took back the lead (5-3) in the bottom of the seventh when Alfonso Soriano doubled in Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena.  Sean Marshall shutdown the Pirates in the eighth, and Carlos Marmol came in for his 40th save opportunity this year.

Xavier Paul led off with a line drive single to center.  A Jose Tabata walk sandwiched between Jason Jaramillo and Alex Presley strikeouts put the Cubs within one out of their sixtieth win and another day of dreams, however wild they may be.  The tying run, however, was on base.  Andrew McCutchen took ball one, then swung at and missed strike one.  He watched Marmol's next four pitches, taking his second walk of the night and 76th of the year.  Derrek Lee--who had hit 179 home runs as a Cub but had only 2 so far as a Pirate--came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.  Lee took the first pitch for ball one, and the second pitch for strike one.  Lee swung at the third pitch, though, and sent it sailing over the left field fence.  Suddenly, the Pirates led, 7-5, and Marmol had his seventh blown save.  Joel Hanrahan earned his 34th save by pitching a perfect ninth.

Meanwhile, the Brewers had no trouble with the Astros, winning 8-2 despite Chris Narveson's mediocre outing.

At the end of the day, the Cubs are 23.5 back with only 23 games to play.

Tigers win in exciting walk-off fashion.  After a 4-run fourth and a 2-run fifth, the White Sox led 8-1.  The Tigers chipped away over the next four innings, so that when the White Sox gave Sergio Santos the ball in the bottom of the ninth, he had his 33rd save opportunity.  After Wilson Betemit struck out, Austin Jackson hit his second triple of the game.  Ryan Raburn followed with his 12th homer of the season, tying the game at 8-8.  Delmon Young struck out swinging, but Miguel Cabrera's 25th home run (a two-out solo shot) sealed the deal: Tigers win, 9-8.  At the end of the day, the White Sox are 7.5 out with 26 left; the Tigers' magic number is now 19.

Nats try to give it away, but Mets give it back.  The Nationals got started early on Dillon Gee, scoring 5 runs on 2 homers (including Ian Desmond's lead-off) and a double.  The Mets came storming back with a 4-run fourth, and Jason Bay's 10th homer in the sixth tied it up.  The Mets went up 7-6 in the seventh when Willie Harris scored on Lucas Duda's sac fly.  Bobby Parnell took the ball for the Mets in ninth (his 7th save opportunity).  Jesus Flores led off with a single, which Jonny Gomes followed with a walk.  Ian Desmond sacrificed them over to second and third, so Parnell intentionally walked Roger Bernadina to load the bases with one out (and a one-run lead) for Ryan Zimmerman, who was, at that point, 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.  Zimmerman hit the fourth pitch he saw for a single, scoring Brian Bixler (running for Flores) and Gomes.  Nationals win 8-7.  At the end of the day, the Nats are within 3 games of the Mets for third in the NL East and 9 games under .500.

McCarthy shuts out the Mariners.  McCarthy retired the first eleven batters he faced en route to his first career shutout, a three-hit, no-walk, ten-strikeout affair.  Only two runners got to second, both with two outs.  McCarthy is now 1-3 in complete games this season.

Kennedy out-pitches Lincecum; Diamondbacks scoot closer to clinching.  The Diamondbacks beat up on Tim Lincecum, scoring 5 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks in just 5 innings pitched.  Lincecum's 5 innings was his shortest outing since the Padres knocked him around on July 4.  At the end of the day, the Diamondbacks are up by 6 games with only 23 left to play.