Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Game for One Spot

After 161 games baseball has the perfect wild-card scenario! One game each, for four teams to prove their worthiness to continue into the hunt for October. The situation has four cities on the brink of a fandom break down, but on the other hand, with the anticipation of the post-season temping them like hot dogs on a grill or fresh apple pie, hot out of the oven. For four teams four different seasons has brought them all to the same day, tied for the wild-card lead in the National and American Leagues. But the bottom line, one more win can open up all the possibilities the baseball playoffs have to offer.

After losing 19 of their last 25 games down the stretch, the Atlanta Braves will have only themselves to blame should their season come to an end versus the Phillies. This organization is known for falling in the NLCS or World Series, so a wild-card blunder is out of character for the A-T-L. But with another defeat, the tomo-hawk chop turns into one of the greatest tomo-hawk-chokes, in the history of wild-card play! Pitcher Derek Lowe has been a 15 million dollar bust for the Braves, losing all five of his September starts. So the heavy lifting will have to be done by today’s starter Tim Hudson. Huddy is 16-10 this season with a nice earned run average of 3.23. He’ll face Philadelphia starter Joe Blanton, who’s making his first start since May. Advantage… Atlanta.

While the Braves were looking over their shoulders it was the St. Louis Cardinals wings they kept hearing. Tony LaRussa’s squad battled back from a nine-game deficit, winning 17 out of 25 games in the month of September. They reached the mountain-top on Tuesday with a 13-6 comeback win over the Houston Astros, whipping out a 5-0 lead for The Stros in the process. But they still need one more to secure more baseball. Cardinal’s number one Chris Carpenter heads to the hill in Houston today but the challenge will not be easy. Houston starter Brett Myers has only allowed seven runs in his last six starts! But the Cardinals could be the team of destiny in 2011 and their bats will do the talking at Minute Maid Park.

After almost blowing another lead in Baltimore before Jonathan Papelbon secured an 8-7 victory yesterday the Red Sox were almost in a must-win situation today. Check that, they still are in a must-win scenario. Red Sox Nation is certainly ready to witness the worst today the way the end of August and all of September have gone. They’ve blown a nine game wild-card lead in the span of just 23 days. An elimination from the post-season today would surely put this collapse up there in the forefront of Boston sports disappointment lore. Jon Lester is the man who will try to make everyone in New England forget the long winter ahead should the Sox fail against Orioles starter Alfedo Simon. Lester has the most wins for the Sox this season, while Simon has a record of just 4 and 9 with an earned run average of almost five. There is no way in the world Boston should not win. But it was almost impossible to blow a nine-game lead in 23 days but they managed that!

The Tampa Bay Rays have to be the loosest bunch of this wild-card final four. They were left for dead a month ago, until Boston started regurgitating its win total from earlier in the season. With a win the Rays get another crack to be were they shouldn’t considering their payroll and fan support. David Price who won his last outing against the Yankees takes the hill with Tampa’s season on the line. New York will play its everyday line-up and treat Wednesday like a playoff turn-up. But is that really possible? No way will the Yankees care as much about the season finale as the Rays do, nor will they play like the season is on the line the way the Rays will. Tampa has no fear of New York or the moment, considering their season should have been over a long time ago. Expect the Price to be right today at Tropicana Field.

Oh and by the way, if both the Braves and Cards both win or lose…. And likewise with the Sox and Rays…. There will be a one-game playoff on Thursday between the pairs! Now that’s a wild thought!

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