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AL West: Cellar Battle
Well, Seattle's epic implosion sure took all the fun out of September baseball in the American League West. Besides effectively ending the division race, the Mariners' collapse also made the Wild Card race irrelevant to followers of baseball's smallest division.
But there's still one race left in the A.L. West -- the race from the cellar. Back on Aug. 24, the Rangers trailed third-place Oakland by eight games and seemed like a lock to finish in dead last for the first time since 2003. But the new look Rangers battled back. Even after losing their last two games, Texas has still won 13 of 17 and currently sits a game back of the A's (and more importantly, even in the loss column).
Today, the Rangers begin their final meeting with the A's -- a four-game set in Oakland. Having Swept the A's last week in Arlington, the Rangers have a golden opportunity to make up more ground in the division's virtual toilet bowl. And it seems that the schedule gods are smiling down upon Texas, as the Rangers dodge Oakland ace Dan Haren.
Here are the pitching matchups in this all-important back-seat battle:
Thursday: Kevin Millwood (9-11, 5.31) vs. Chad Gaudin (10-11, 4.47)
Skinny: Gaudin hasn't fared too well against the Rangers this season, going 1-3 with a 6.26 ERA.
Friday: Kason Gabbard (6-1, 4.07) vs. Dan Meyer (0-1, 4.32)
Skinny: For Meyer, this September is a tryout for a spot in Oakland's rotation next season.
Saturday: Brandon McCarthy (5-9, 5.04) vs. Joe Blanton (13-9, 3.77)
Skinny: McCarthy is working back from a stress fracture in his shoulder and will be limited to around 60 pitches in this start.
Sunday: Vicente Padilla (6-9, 5.70) vs. Lenny DiNardo (8-9, 3.87)
Skinny: Padilla, who is earning $9 million this year, is finally showing a pulse. He has thrown 12 consecutive innings of shutout baseball.
It's been a long year for first-year manager Ron Washington. His team's basically been out of the division race since May and he's experienced public rifts with a couple of his own players (Mark Teixeira and Gerald Laird). But with 16 games left, the Rangers have an outside chance of finishing at .500 or better for just the second time this millennium (they went 89-73 in 2004), and Washington has legitimate shot to finish above his old team in the division standings.
Labels: AL West
posted by SI.com | View comments |
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AL West blog (Thursday)
NL East blog (Thursday)
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