|Francona Wins Big in Return to Fenway||Connelly’s Top Ten: Rask Falls on Face||Bruins Lose 4-3 in OT as Rangers Fight to Stay Alive||For the Bulletin Board: Lundqvist’s “Lucky Bounces,” Savard’s “#ByeByeTorts”|
April is in the books, and the Red Sox have an elimination number of 131. When it goes down by about one per day, you’re in trouble. But things are are still getting closer in the pennant race; three divisions are led by 0.5 games, two by 1.5 games, and the Cardinals are leading the Cubs by 4.5. With their Pitching and Pujols, I’d say they have a pretty secure position. The Nationals are above .500 and right in the race, and the Mariners, despite being 11-14 and in last out West, are still 2.0 games away from the division lead. With Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, they’ll be right up there soon enough. With about 15.4321% of the season done with, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Monday, May 3 before the day’s games:
The Cardinals have won their last two, and are 7-3 in their last 10. The Giants lost last time out and are 6-4 in their last 10. If their last series is any indication, there will be more pitchers’ duels here than any other series, with anyone being able to take it. With the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and the Giants’ Big Time Timmy Jam probably getting two starts this week, whoever can hold out longest will probably pull it off in Game 5.
Philly took care of business against the Mets to regain the division lead. San Diego is still doing surprisingly well, leading the Giants by 1.5 games. With Adrian Gonzalez backing them up, it was only a matter of time. Doc Halladay will present problems for the Padres hitters, but that’s about it. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley should be easy enough to manage most of the time for the Padres’ pitching. All the Phillies should need is one good pitching performance for any of the three middle games, but don’t bet on it.
The dominant Rays are definitely the team to beat this year, and have only dropped on game away from the Trop. The Rangers just snuck into a division lead after sweeping the Mariners but are still pretty mediocre at home and on the road. Honestly, there’s really no decent chance of the Rangers pulling this one out of the bag.
Except for Javier Vasquez, the Yankees have great pitching, and they have good hitters, save for Curtis Granderson. But Minnesota has nowhere near the level of pitching, and Mauer is having health issues, likely to be out for a couple of weeks. The Twins may have home field advantage lined up this year, but that won’t make a difference to the Yankees. For that matter, the Twins are only holding off the Tigers by 0.5 games.