Thursday, September 8, 2011

Six horse race is down to 2

September’s stretch run in the majors has come down to just two division races that leave something for the imagination. The American League east is once again another race to the finish between the Yankees and Red Sox. But even that race is no fight to the death as both teams will make the post-season, with the loser of the east counting on winning the wild-card spot in the American League. New York has weathered a Boston run to own a two and a half game lead by putting together eight wins over their last ten games. While C.C. Sabathia is once again a Cy Young candidate, with Ivan Nova and Freddie Garcia putting together double-digit win seasons on the mound, The Bronx Bombers sit on top because they do just that, bomb away at the plate! Not even the Phillies offense is close to what the Yankees have done in terms of run differential in 2011. New York has scored 209 runs more this season than it has given up. Boston is second in this statistic but trail the Yanks by over 40 runs. That’s saying a lot about the power of the New York line-up. The bombers have eight players in their line-up with double-digit home runs! That is ridiculous considering Alex Rodriguez; maybe their best power hitter has been hurt for a good portion of the second half of the season. Boston’s three top starters with double-digit wins, Josh Beckett-12, Jon Lester-15 and John Lackey-12, have all given up plenty of long balls as well. This doesn’t bode well for the fight to the division title as the two teams meet up just three more times at Fenway Park. Somehow Boston has won 11 out of the 16 head to head match-ups this year, but New York still leads the division. You just have to figure with the ferociousness of the Yankee offensive attack, should they meet up in the post-season, the run scoring production of the pinstripers, will be too much for the sox to overcome.

The American League west has suddenly become a showdown at the O.K. Corral between the Angels and Rangers. This race has a lot more at stake because the loser will be watching in October. Like the Yankees – Red Sox, the Rangers have produced a run differential number that is hard to ignore. The Texas offense has nearly outscored its opponents by one hundred more runs than the Angels. But this head to head match-up is almost even at 9-7 Rangers. Like Boston, the Halos top pitchers are starting to show some strain. Jered Weaver, Edwin Santana and Dan Haren have all had to throw recently on shorter rest and its show in their performances. Pitch counts are high for all three at the end of the season, but manager Mike Scioscia really has no choice. When one of those three starters are on the bump, the Angels are 56-36. If not, the record is an ugly 25-29. Those numbers won’t catch the defending A.L. Champs down the stretch run. Texas right now is hanging on with one major advantage besides its offense. Manager Ron Washington seems to be able to turn to any of his five starters and receive a quality start, or least a performance to give him a chance to win. C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Derrick Holland and Colby Lewis have all notched double digit wins. Another Ranger plus, they’ve been there before. Last season’s victory over the Yankees and World Series appearance no doubt is going a long way in the confidence department. These two squads play each other three more times in the final three games of the season. The Angels can only hope to hang around long enough to make it come down to that!

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