|Hanley Moving to First! Red Sox Defense is Saved!||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots 3rd Game, Trades, 9/11 Fallout||Miracles Do Happen! Porcello, Tazawa Outduel Sale, White Sox in Red Sox Shutout||Red Sox Nation Loses with Departure of Don Orsillo|
Just a week remains until the All Star game, and teams are still looking to solidify their spot in the standings beforehand. Divisions are still close, and the AL Wildcard is up in the air. Teams at the top are having trouble, so there’s still plenty of turmoil to take advantage of. Who will make their move before the All Star break? Let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, July 9, before the day’s games:
Three straight wins have the Cardinals back on track, but sweeping the Marlins at home (with the last two wins by one run) isn’t exactly praiseworthy. Still, they kept their cool and didn’t let Pittsburgh taking over get in their heads. The Cards remain a talented team hanging in there in the tough NL Central race; they’ll have a good chance at making a deep playoff run.
Arizona is treading water at the moment, not really losing or gaining any ground. Washington tried to make a move against Atlanta, but nothing was doing there. Both teams are much better at home, which does favor the Braves in this one.
Tough times against the Cubs and Phillies dropped the Pirates behind St Louis, but they’re still only half a game behind. Cincinnati is having trouble regaining ground in a tough division. The Reds did sweep San Francisco, but Pittsburgh is maintaining a much bigger presence. With Cincinnati’s iffy road record, Pittsburgh’s rabid fan base will give them a major sudden death advantage.
Boston had some problems in Ahaheim, but they’re still clinging to the AL lead and have the most wins in the majors at 54. They still have power in the middle of the lineup and Jose Iglesias bringing up the rear. Once they get healthy, they’ll be rather difficult for anyone to beat.
Oakland didn’t do so well in this series last playoffs, but they’re a legitimate contender in the AL. The Tigers, however, aren’t as good as they could be, having to hold off periodic challenges from Cleveland in a weak division. Even so, with their several high-power bats and Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the rotation, Detroit has a great chance to repeat their success from last season.
Five wins in a row and nine of ten have rocketed the Rays into the second Wildcard spot. Still, the Astros and White Sox (and now the Twins) are hardly quality opponents. Texas remains a highly explosive team that will be looking to avenge last season’s Wildcard loss to Baltimore. Tampa has the balance to capitalize on mistakes, but Texas will still have to make one first.