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After another week, things are starting to become normal again. Starting. The Yankees are back in charge, followed closely by Tampa. Though, Boston is only 2.5 games away from being the league’s worst team. Pittsburgh is only 0.5 games out of the wild-card slot, and Oakland is still running away with their division. We’ll see how that turns out. And San Francisco is still doing quite well, thanks to Lincecum’s bat in addition to his arm. Anyone can start strong, but to finish that way will require prolonged skill and determination. Anything can (and probably will) happen in the next week, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Monday, April 19 before the day’s games:
The Cardinals already had the game of the year Saturday, losing 2-1 to the Mets in 20 innings. But they have Carpernter and Wainwright on the mound, and Pujols manning the batter’s box. On the other hand, the Marlins have beaten the Phillies twice. Though to be fair, those were to Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels, and they don’t have the well-known players the Cardinals do. Expect the Cardinals to advance sooner or later.
Tim Lincecum not only defeated the Dodgers Saturday, but also had an RBI bunt single and a two-RBI line drive single in the process, in addition to a lead-off single. Brad Lidge and Joe Blanton had better come back and help Doc out in a big way to avoid sinking further in the standings. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are good, but dealing with Lincecum twice would likely be too much to overcome.
Props to Oakland for making it this far, but they did give up eight runs to Baltimore, in the Orioles’ second win of the season. But the Evil Empire has won it’s first four series for the first time since the 1920s. With perhaps the best starting rotation and closer in baseball, who’s going to argue with them?
Don’t let the Wildcard spot fool you; the Rays have the better record, and remain the league’s only unbeaten road team. And the Twins did just give up 10 runs to the Royals, thereby destroying much of their credibility. If it’s any consolation, the Rays did lose to Baltimore 5-4 in Game 3 of the season. Still, with an all-AL East AL Championship series likely every year, look for a Rays defense to overtake Mauer and a hit-or-miss pitching staff.