The playoff races appeared all but over a few weeks ago, with the Rockies catching and passing the Giants for the NL Wild Card and no other race looking close. However, the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves have made a late push for a playoff spot, and in turn giving plenty of meaning to this last week of baseball. The Yankees, Angels and Cardinals have clinched their respective divisions, while the Dodgers are right on the cusp of doing the same. The Phillies’ four-game lead should be safe, although they haven’t been playing their best ball of late — a slate of home games against the Astros and Marlins shouldn’t be too difficult for the defending champions. The Red Sox have basically salted away the AL Wild Card, so that leaves two playoff spots open: the NL Wild Card and the AL Central champions.
The NL Wild Card
A few months ago, this looked like it would be the Giants’ to lose — and lose it they did. Colorado has been magnificent over the second half, first reaching .500, then drawing close to the Giants, and finally surpassing them and putting some ground in between the two NL teams. Unfortunately for the Rockies, that wasn’t all she wrote, as now the Atlanta Braves are putting together a remarkable run, winning seven straight and 15 of their last 17 games. After last night’s win over the Marlins, the Braves now find themselves just two back of the Rockies for the Wild Card. Atlanta is staring at a pretty easy close to the season — at home against Florida and Washington. By contrast, the Rockies face the Brewers at home before traveling to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers for their final series. Colorado is the favorite to reach the playoffs, but I’m not counting the Braves out yet.
The AL Central Pennant
If you want even more drama, check out what the Twins have done. Since losing All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau for the season on September 12th, the Twins have won 11 of their 13 games played. Who loses a key piece and rattles off that many wins? The Tigers must have felt they had the division locked up, but now they find themselves playing a doubleheader today that would, if they lose both ends of it, mean the division would be all tied up — oh, and the two teams play on Wednesday and Thursday as well. The Twins need to take three of the four games to tie the division. After this critical series, the Twins face the Royals at home for their final series, while the Tigers take on the White Sox at home. Consider the Tigers just lost two of three games to the White Sox, while the Twins just took two of three games in Kansas City, I’d say this division title is completely up for grabs.
It’s going to be a great finish — good luck to your team, and go Braves!
R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!