Pennant Watch: Sunday, September 30th
Only One Spot Remains
The NL Central remains up for grabs. St. Louis leads by a game and a half, and can clinch with a win over Milwaukee today. They send ace Chris Carpenter to the hill, so they should be in good shape. If they lose, however, and Houston wins, then the Cards have to play the Giants tomorrow in a make-up game. If they lose that, they will drop into a tie with Houston, and play the Astros in a tie-breaker on Tuesday.
Later today, Houston sends 28-year old rookie Chris Sampson to the hill to face future hall of famer John Smoltz. Breathe easy, Cardinals fans.
End of the Road for Philadelphia
Both the Dodgers and the Padres won yesterday, clinching playoff spots. That means that the Phillies are once again going to be left out in the cold.
The Fight For Positioning
Four teams are playing today with playoff positioning on the line. Detroit and Minnesota remain tied for the AL Central lead. Detroit holds the tie-breaker, so if both teams win (or lose), they will get the nod, putting Minnesota in the wild card spot. The division winner will host Oakland, and the wild card will go on the road to New York in the ALDS. It's a shame that Detroit could still lose today, and claim the division crown if the Twinkies also go down in defeat. I'm of the opinion that if you get swept at home by the Kansas City Royals, you don't deserve the division title, or possibly even a playoff spot.
The same situation applies in the NL West. San Diego holds the tie-breaker over LA, so a Padres win will clinch the division crown. The winner will host the NL Central champ (likely St. Louis), while the wild card team goes on the road to face the Mets. Interestingly, both teams face their opposing team's ace - the Dodgers get Jason Schmidt of the Giants, while the Padres get Brandon Webb of the D-Backs.
Game of the Day
Milwaukee at St. Louis. Chris Carpenter can earn his keep, and boost his Cy Young prospects with a strong performance and a win this afternoon.