Pennant Race Fever: Sept. 19

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent ISeptember 19, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 23:  Omar Infante #4 of the Atlanta Braves celebrates in the dugout after scoring in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Florida Marlins on August 23, 2009 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Matt Holliday hit a walkoff homer last night to extend the Cardinals lead over the second place Cubs to ten games.

Matt Holliday hit a walkoff homer last night to extend the Cardinals lead over the second place Cubs to ten games in the NL Central.

Three second place teams played the first place teams in their division and only the Twins gained ground on the front runners. They are now three games behind the Tigers after their 3-0 shutout.

In the AL West the Angels extended their lead over the second place Rangers with a 2-0 shutout victory.

The NL central leading Cardinals extended their lead to ten games over the second place Cubs with six the magic number to eliminate the Cubs. The Cardinals won on a walkoff homer by Matt Holliday to take a 3-2 win.



AL East—Yankees lost on a walkoff homer by Ichiro Suzuki which gave the Mariners a 3-2 victory and the Yankees lead over the Red Sox was reduced to six games. The Yankees start a three game series at Anaheim against the Angels on Monday. Then they host the Red Sox for a three game series.

The Red Sox finish the season with 13 of their last 16 games against teams with losing records so if they could sweep the Yankees they could be in the AL East pennant race to the end.



AL Central—The Twins are playing well despite the loss of Justin Morneau for the season. They can control their own destiny since they play the Tigers six more times and play the White Sox three more times.

They have won their last five games and Brian Duensing (4-1) has won his last four decisions and his only loss this season was on July 19 in a relief role. He has a 2-0 record with a 1.07 ERA in September.

The Royals humilated the White Sox 11-0 behind the three hit complete game shutout by Luke Hochevar who played college baseball here in Knoxville for the University of Tennessee.

Hochevar the No.1 overall pick in the 2006 draft entered the game with a 6-10 record and a 6.23 ERA and hadn’t won since Jul. 25.

The White Sox  could only manage three singles in the game and the first six hitters in the lineup were a combined 1-19 in the contest. Mark Buehrle (12-9) took the loss and has only won once in his last 11 starts. The loss dropped the magic number to nine for the White Sox.



AL West—Scott Kazmir won his first game for the Angels pitching six innings of scoreless baseball and Kazmir and three relievers held the Rangers to eight hits in their 2-0 win. The Angels have a seven and-a-half game lead over the Rangers with 15 games remaining.



NL East: The first and second place Phillies and Marlins both won yesterday while the seven game winning streak by the Braves was ended by the Phillies and Ryan Howard in the 9-4 win. He hit his 39th and 40th homers of the season to join Albert Pujols and Mark Reynolds as the only players to hit 40 homers this season.

The Marlins entered the ninth inning trailing the Reds 2-0 but emerged with a 4-3 win when they scored four times in the top of the ninth. The win kept their magic number at eight and the Braves also have a magic number of eight in the NL East.



NL Central—The Cubs reduced their magic number to six when they gave up a walkoff homer by Matt Holliday to lose 3-2.  Ted Lilly outpitched John Smoltz allowing two runs in seven and-two-thirds innings but reliever Aaron Heilman gave up the walkoff homer to Holliday to end the game.

The Cubs have two more games left than the Cardinals but with a 10 game deficit it is unlikely they will be able to catch the Cardinals this season.



NL West—The Dodgers remain five games ahead of the Rockies after losing to the Giants 8-4 while the Giants have reduced the Dodgers lead over them to seven and-a-half games. However the win combined with a Rockies loss moved them to within two and-a-half games of the NL wild card lead.



Diamond Notes—C.C. Sabathia must win his 18th game today to have a chance at winning twenty games this season….Chris Carpenter will be trying for his 17th win as he takes the mound against the Cubs today….Justin Verlander also will be trying for his 17th win with Carl Pavano trying for his 13th win of the season.

Sabathia and Adam Wainwright with 18 wins are the only pitchers that could win 20 games this season.

Albert Pujols leads in two of the Triple Crown categories in the NL with 49 homers and 127 runs batted in. He has been very consistent this season hitting .331 against lefthanders and .330 against righthanders. He has hit .329 in home games and .331 on the road. He has also hit .332 before the All Star break and .327 after.

His power numbers have dropped off since the break with 32 homers in first half and only 15 in the second half. His runs batted in total before the break was 87 but he only has 40 since then with only two weeks left in the season.

Ken Griffey Jr. is struggling and is 1-13 in his last four games. He is 5-32 for the month of September while hitting .156. His month by month batting averages have not been good this season.

March-April…. .200

May…. .214

June…. .224

July…. .224

August…. .246

September…. .156

His .215 average this season is thirty points below his previous career low of .245. His .394 slugging percentage is also a career low. His .322 on base percentage is the second lowest of his career.

He has a .716 OPS this season another career low and a 196 points lower than his career average of .912.

I can’t see the Mariners or any other team signing him for the 2010 season. It is sad to see the great ones leave the game but would rather see him leave than be a shell of the player he was in the past.

Hottest teams in baseball are the Red Sox, Royals, Athletics, and Phillies all of whom have posted 8-2 records in their last ten games. Phillies have the longest winning streak at six games.

Derek Jeter needs five hits for 200 hits this season. Robinson Cano and Hanley Ramirez both need 11 hits for 200 hits. The leader Ichiro Suzuki has 209 hits with two weeks left in the season.

Mark Reynolds has struck out 200 times and and is almost certain to break his own major league record of 204 strikeouts by the end of the season.

Ian Kinsler needs one homer and two stolen bases to be the only player this season with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases. No other player is close to a 30-30 season as of today.

Jeremy Guthrie leads all major league pitchers in losses with 15 while Aaron Harang and Zach Duke are second with 14 losses….Brian Fuentes leads all closers with 43 saves but has blown seven saves.

Joe Nathan who lives in Knoxville has the second most saves with 42 and has allowed only 39 hits in 61 innings while striking out 81.


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