By: Marvin Azrak
The chase for October has dwindled down to just a few spots available with just a week to play, as the Tampa Bay Rays clinched the AL East,are on the verge of the wrapping up home field throughout the American League postseason, the Milwaukee Brewers clinched the NL Central, and the NL’s no two seed, while the San Diego Padres and New York Mets(73-82) were both mathematically eliminated from their respective hunt. All that happened, and much more on a memorable weekend of September baseball that you probably don’t know happened because of all of the football that was happening simultaneously. Well have no fear, I’m here to take you through it all, and also bring to your attention a streak for the ages that is currently still active, and has important playoff implications out of St Louis in the Cardinals, who have won 16 straight.
AL East: The Rays(97-59) are your champions here for the second straight year, and lead the Astros(91-65) by six games for the NO 1 seed, which they can wrap up with a victory at Houston this week.
AL Central: The White Sox(88-68) clinched the division this past week for the first time since 2008, and will likely face the Houston Astros in the ALDS.
AL West: The Astros enter Monday with a magic number of two to clinch the West, which decreases with a Seattle Mariners(86-70) loss to the A’s(85-71), or a Houston win over Tampa.
NL West: The San Francisco Giants(102-54), and Los Angeles Dodgers both clinched playoff berths, but are now fighting to see who will avoid the winner-take-all Wild Card game on October 6th, and clinch home field throughout the postseason. The Giants battle the Arizona Diamondbacks(50-106) for three games, before finishing up against the underwhelming Padres(78-78). Meanwhile, the Dodgers host the Padres , and NL-Central champion Brewers to wrap up their season. San Francisco’s magic number is currently five for the West.
NL Central: The Brewers(94-62) clinched the division on Sunday, with an 8-4 win over the Mets at home completing the three game sweep.
Overall, five(Presumptively 6) spots have been clinched, leaving four spots up for grabs, including three wild-cards.
ON THE BUBBLE:
Yankees vs Red Sox:
Just like we said on thejewishvoice.com this past Thursday, the Yankees entered the weekend trailing the Red Sox by two games for the first Wildcard spot, and it behoved a sweep out of them to not only overtake them in the standings, but keep pace of the surging Blue Jays, who entered the weekend just a game behind the bombers for the second wild card spot, with just nine games remaining.
In game one, the Yankees pummeled Nathan Evoldi for three runs in the first(Aaron Judge RBI double, Giancarlo Stanton RBI groundout, and a Kyle Higashioka RBI single), before adding three more on a Giancarlo Stanton oppo-taco bomb the other way in the third to extend the lead to 6-0. After it became 7-0, with a Kyle Higashioka infield single on a ball misjudged by Kyle Schwarber of Boston, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole took it from there going six innings, with just one glaring mistake, a three run HR by Rafael Devers around the pesky pole. But Gleyber Torres would go deep in the seventh, and the bullpen trio of Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Chad Green sealed the 8-3 win.
In game two, the Yankee bats only managed one hit through the first half of the contest, and needed some clutch pitching out of Nestor Cortes JR, Michael King, and Luis Severino (2 Scoreless IP) to keep the score 2-0 Boston. A wild pitch in the sixth would inch the Bombers closer, but when Gio Urshela struck out for the second out of the eighth, all hope seemed lost. But then walks to Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge forced Bosox manager Alex Cora to turn to young lefty Darowin Hernandez, who hit lefty Anthony Rizzo on a 3-1 count, bringing up Giantcarlo Stanton. Up to this point, Stanton was 1 for 3 with a strikeout on the day, but knew he would only be remembered for this at-bat, and made the most of it depositing the first pitch over the Green Monster at Fenway Park for a game-breaking grand slam, putting the Bombers on top 5-2, which would later turn into a 5-3 victory with Aroldis Chapman nailing down the save.
Going for a sweep on Sunday night, Clay Holmes (In relief of Jordan Montgomery after 5 innings of one run ball) struck out the side on 11 pitches to maintain the Yankees 2-1 lead(On a DJ LeMahieu RBI single in the fifth). But in the seventh, Joeley Rodriguez allowed the first two men he faced to reach base, and Boston was suddenly set up with men on second and third with nobody out. A sac fly by Christian Vazquez tied the score, before two batters later a potential Kyle Schwarber pop up that would’ve ended the inning, was dropped by New York left fielder Joey Gallo, allowing Alex Verdugo to score and give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
However, the Yankees wouldn’t back down and found themselves with men on second and third with one out, after an Anthony Rizzo double moved DJ LeMahieu(Who walked) to third. Up came Aaron Judge against ex-Yankee Adam Ottavino. Adam had Judge at 1-2, and appeared to have gotten what he wanted with a pop up to first base side, but Bobby Dalbec couldn’t come up with it and the ball fell harmlessly to the ground. A couple pitches later, Judge had appeared to strike out swinging, but the foul tip was dropped by Vazquez behind the dish to keep the at-bat alive. Judge would then cash in, and drive a two-run a go—ahead double to left field, before another Giancarlo Stanton 448FT tank job over the Green Monster, essentially secured the sweep-clinching 6-3 Yankees win, putting them two games up over the Jays (Who went 2-2 against the lowly Twins), and a game up over Boston with just six games left to play. Up next for the Yanks, is a series in Toronto against the Blue Jays, while the Bosox tangle with the Orioles. Over the weekend, the Yankees host the Rays, the Red Sox battle the woeful Nationals, and the Jays get their shot against the hapless team from Baltimore to end the season.
WC STANDINGS 9/26
- Yankees 89-67
- Red Sox 88-68
(Top two make wild card game)
- Mariners 86-71
- Oakland Athletics 85-70
NL Wild Card:
The Cardinals have won 16 straight games(The longest in September since the 1909 Pirates(16)) to put separation between them and the rest of the Wild Card contenders. They now return home to face the Brew Crew who they just swept during their 11 game-road winning streak which is the best in the World Series era.
- Braves 83-72
- Phillies 81-75
The two teams will face off this week in Atlanta, and if we this goes into the weekend, we will see the “important” label on the Braves-Mets, and Phillies-Marlins matchups.