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At the end of May, Minnesota is still right there with the Yankees, and there are finally two 30-game winners in the National League, but somehow those two teams are San Diego and Cincinnati. And the NL East is surprisingly still a logjam, with the Phillies only 0.5 games ahead of the Braves and 4.0 games ahead of the last place Marlins and Nationals. Josh Beckett is out for a good, long while, and Red Sox fans couldn’t be happier, because the team now appears to be pretty good without him dragging everyone down. The Angels’ Kendry Morales broke his leg celebrating a walk-off grand slam, and the next day’s walk-off homer was much more muted, David Huff of the Indians took an A-Rod line drive off his head, and Minnesota’s Orlando Hudson collided with teammate Denard Span on the last play of the game; it’s been a fun week. Injuries and performances are really shaking things up, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as off Monday, May 31 before the day’s games:
How about those Padres? Even without a homer from Adrian Gonzalez since May 19, the Padres are getting things done with a balanced hitting staff and a good pitching staff. But just 1.5 games back, the Cardinals are doing very well, riding the strength of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and coming off a three-homer day from Albert Pujols. With both of the Cardinals’ aces throwing in San Diego, home field advantage will mean nothing to the Padres.
The Reds have had a very good pitching staff this year, while the Phillies have been shut out in five of their last eight games. Even Roy Halladay has been a little inconsistent lately, perfect game aside. With such a struggling offense, Philadelphia won’t make it out of this series alive. Way to earn that raise, Ryan Howard.
Oakland is back in charge over Texas, but only by half a game. Tampa Bay is good when they get enough run support, but have had a few shoddy pitching starts lately. Still, Dallas Braden got lucky. And Tampa will be itching to wreak sweet vengeance on the Athletics for that perfect game a month ago. Don’t worry about the Rays; they’ll be fine.
Minnesota is slated for home field advantage this time around, but squirrels and rain aside, they even have a hard time winning at home against New York. Though with New York having issues against the lowly Indians, one has to wonder whether or not their close proximity to the Blue Jays (1.0 games) and even Red Sox (2.0 games) are distracting. That’s what happens when four of the best five teams in the American League are in your division.