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Approaching the 100-game mark of the season, it seems that nothing is set in stone. The Rangers continue to be impressive out West, and the Cardinals have usurped the Reds, again. After touching the playoff picture, the Red Sox have rapidly fallen back. The Yankees are still the team to beat, despite Andy Pettitte’s imminent departure. And aside from the Cardinals, the next-longest active winning streak (five games) belongs to Cleveland. No, really, that city. There’s still plenty of competition; even the Orioles have a playoff elimination number of 44. So with all this in mind, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, July 20, before the day’s games:
The Padres have climbed back into 1st place behind their four-game winning streak. The Reds have been slipping in favor of the streaking Cardinals. Both teams have had surprisingly good pitching staffs this season, but with Adrian Gonzalez in and Scott Rolen out, the Reds would have a tough time of it.
The Cardinals have won their last six in a row, but the Braves are 6-4 in their last ten, and have the league’s best home record, at 32-12. Neither team has been very good on the road, but both have been impressive at home. That gives the definite edge to the team with home-field advantage, and the one that isn’t having to fight as hard for a playoff spot to begin with.
The Yankees are well-poised to become the first team to win 30 games both at home and on the road this season. The White Sox are currently beating up on Seattle. Big deal. The Yankees are the Yankees until they give us a reason to doubt, and Andy Pettitte’s injury isn’t it.
The Rays are a speedy, defensive team, and are an even better road team than home team. That’s good news for them, even though the Rangers are no home slouch. But still, the Rays have a much better all-around team with a better record to show for it. If the Rangers are to win, they might want to give thought to having Cliff Lee pitch in all five games.