2011 MLB Playoffs: 7 September Series That Will Determine Playoff Field
Several teams are still vying for a spot among the eight teams who will contend for the 2011 World Series trophy, and there are several September series which will determine the playoff field.
As of Sept. 1st, every division in baseball has the possibility of ending with a division winner other than the current first-place teams. Wild-card chances are slightly more out of reach but are still within reach of contending teams given a late-season surge.
These are the series which hold the highest playoff implications this September.
San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks: Sept. 2nd-4th and Sept. 23rd-25th
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The most intriguing division race this year belongs to the NL West.
The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants have not been able to keep the resurgent Diamondbacks at bay all season long.
The Giants have suffered the entire season from a serious lack of offense which was addressed by the front office in the trade for Carlos Beltran. That hasn't panned out as planned so far since his arrival in July.
With six games separating the two teams as of Sept. 2nd, the two teams will begin the final month of the regular season against each other and will meet again for another three-game set at the end of the month.
Arizona will enter the first series of the month on a nine-game winning streak.
Detroit Tigers vs. Chicago White Sox: Sept. 2nd-4th and Sept. 12th-14th
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Not many teams have had the up-and-down season the White Sox have had. There have been several moments of promise and regret for the White Sox this season, but no matter what has happened before this September, the Sox still find themselves in contention.
Their first series of September is on the road against division leaders, the Detroit Tigers, who as of the start of the series hold a 5.5-game lead on the White Sox.
The White Sox are currently one of the hottest teams in baseball going 7-3 in their last 10 games but will start the series against Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander.
This is an important series for both teams as Chicago looks to gain ground while Detroit wants to distance themselves from their division rivals.
Detroit visits Chicago Sept. 12th for another three-game set.
Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians: Sept. 5th-7th and Sept. 26th-28th
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Immediately following their home series against the White Sox, the Tigers travel to Cleveland to face their other division rivals, the Indians.
The Indians are currently tied with the White Sox for second in the division making this a three-team race to the finish for the division. All three teams are well out of the lead for the Wild Card in the American League, which will probably end up going to the Yankees or Red Sox anyway.
While the Tigers will have their hands full with the White Sox to begin September, the Indians should fair well against the Kansas City Royals. Chances are the Indians will gain ground on both teams by the time Detroit arrives in Cleveland.
The Tigers will host the Indians at the end of the month.
Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago White Sox: Sept. 8th-10th and Sept. 20th-22nd
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The AL Central Division keeps on rocking with a third consecutive series with huge playoff implications.
The White Sox will host the Indians immediately following the Indians' series with division-leader Detroit Tigers.
These teams are currently tied for second in the division and will be looking to knock the other out of contention in their mission to capture the Tigers and the division crown. Both these teams understand that a wild-card berth is unlikely given the fact they are more than 10 games out of first in that race.
Cleveland will host Chicago on beginning Sept. 20th with a doubleheader.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Sept. 5th-7th
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The Brew Crew have surprised many this season by taking such a commanding lead in the NL Central this late in the season, but the Cards are not letting up.
St. Louis has just swept Milwaukee to bring the lead down to 7.5 games with one more series between the two left to go.
Not only is this series important in the head-to-head standings, but it will give either team momentum going into their next series against very formidable opponents.
After the two finish their three-game set, the Brewers will host the league's best team, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Cards will host the Atlanta Braves. Both those series will also be huge in determining who makes the NL playoffs.
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Sept. 23rd-25th
Although we all know both these teams will more than likely make this year's playoffs, home-field advantage during the the AL side of the playoffs is up for grabs between these two teams.
This rivalry is enjoying its most exciting year in a long time and whoever wins the division will end up with the best record in the AL barring any unlikely, but possible, late-season collapse.
Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim vs. Texas Rangers: Sept. 26th-28th
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The closest two-team division race that will not end up with a second-place wild-card team is between the LA Angles and the Texas Rangers.
These two teams do not meet again until the final series of the season. Should they continue to stay neck and neck through the month of September, they will surely end their season with a mini-playoff round before season's end.