September 2016

Two Weeks Left, What past Seasons Tell Us About giving Chase, What Second wildcards Look Like if Available 1995-2011

Major League Baseball began using the single wild card in 1995, expanding two a second wild card starting in 2012. IN addition, playoffs were held for wild card births that would have been the equal of today’s one game playoff prior to 2012, though these counted at that time as tie break 163rd games in the regular season. Those games were all in the National League, Giants at Cubs in 1998, and Mets at Reds in 1999 and the unforgettable Padres at Rockies game in 2007. While the NL had three playoffs to settle wildcard ties from 1995-2007, the American League tie breaker games were all to decide divisions with the losers missing out on the wildcard. Those games, all memorable were Angels at Mariners for the western division in 1995, and a pair of games to settle the central crown, Twins at White Sox in 2008 and Tigers at Twins in 2009. Here, let’s look at two items, what happens if the second wild card existed from the beginning of the new system in 1995, while looking at what odds teams have for postseason play who were on the outside looking in going into the final two weeks of the regular season.

It is worth noting that had the two wild card system been in place starting in 1995, some additional games would have been played that would have changed baseball history as we know it, while surely creating more history. That memorable 1995 Angels Mariners game would have decided the division, but the loser would have played the Yankees in a wild card game and we might not have even had Yankees and mariners that gave us the first and most memorable ALDS in history to this point, Astros at Rockies would have been the NL wildcard game. The 1996 season would have been very memorable with a second wildcard, Montreal would have played the Dodgers in Los Angeles, while the American League would have been potential craziness. Baltimore won the wildcard and would have hosted a playoff against a second team, which is where things would have gone off the rails. The Red sox and white Sox were both 85-77 and a half game behind the 85-76 Mariners. Seattle would have had to play a makeup game on Monday September 30, if they had won they would go to Baltimore. Had they lost, two more playoffs would have had to be played to eliminate two of the three teams, with the survivor living to play a third elimination game at the Orioles. In 1997, all five AL teams with winning records would have gone to postseason, the 84-78 Angels would have gone to face the 96-66 Yankees for the wildcard, with a NL playoff between the Dodgers and Mets to decide who would have then played the wildcard game against the Marlins. While the Cubs and Giants did have a true playoff for the NL wildcard in 1998, the Mets were this close to creating a three-way tie missing out by a single game. In the AL Boston would have hosted Toronto for the wildcard. IN addition to the 1999 NL playoff for the wildcard between the Mets and Reds, the AL would have featured Boston at home again for the wildcard against an up and coming Oakland Athletics squad that would become well known the next five years.

IN 2000, we had the final week stretch drive where Cleveland almost caught the mariners, missing out by one game from having a playoff for the wildcard, which would have taken place under the new system. Yes, the Indians still likely would have had that very odd doubleheader on Monday September 25, hosting the White Sox for a makeup game at noon, before the regularly scheduled game that night at 7:05 against the Twins. The Dodgers would have played at the Mets in the NL, edging both the Reds and Diamondbacks by a game for that second wildcard. The final days of 2001 were so unreal in so many ways, baseball finishing on October 7 after the rescheduling due to the tragic events of 9-11, bonds shattering a three year old homer record, the Mariners trying to be the best regular season team of all time, winning two more games than that great Yankee team from three years earlier. The Astros and Cardinals tied for the division, Houston got the crown on regular season tie breaks of head to head results. That second wild card that would have opened at St. Louis would have belonged to the Giants and Barry bonds. Minnesota which had its first winning season since 1992 would have played at Oakland for the wildcard, a matchup of teams that won 85 and 102 games respectably. Oakland in fact as a wild card had the second most wins in all of baseball that season. In 2002, Minnesota would have hosted the winner of a playoff between Boston and Seattle, while the Giants would have hosted the Dodgers for the two wildcard games. In 2003, Mariners at Red Sox and Astros at Marlins would have been your wildcard games, Houston edging the Phillies by a game for that second position that didn’t exist. In 2004 before the Red Sox could have made their historic run against the Yankees coming from 3-0 down, they would have had to first win a wildcard game against Oakland at Fenway, while the Astros who came back from the dead the season’s final eight weeks would have hosted the Giants. IN 2005, the Padres won the NL west with just an 82-80 record. And they would have faced the Braves who were the eastern winners, while the best team in baseball, St. Louis would have hosted a stronger team out of the Astros and Phillies wildcard game at Minute maid Park.

The 2006 season produced a great AL Central race, three teams winning 90 or more. The white Sox would have gone to Detroit for the wildcard, Chicago finishing a game ahead of the Angels. The NL west was a tie between the Padres and Dodgers, with San Diego getting the division title on head to head matchups. The Dodgers reward would have been a home wildcard game against the Phillies and 58 homer hitting Ryan Howard.

The 2007 season is forever remembered for that Padres Rockies wild card playoff game. Under the new system, the drama of that seasons close would have been less because with two days left, the Rockies had no margin for error. They had to win twice and have the Padres lose twice just to get to that playoff game. That meant they needed five games to all come up aces, like rolling a Yahtzee on your final throw of the game. We know how that ended up. The Mets would have created so much drama though had they won that final Sunday. Under the new system, two NL East teams would have been 89-73, Mets and Phillies, the same mark held by the Rockies and Padres. So we almost had an NL East playoff, after which the loser would have had to join those teams from out west to play a second playoff before we even had our wild card game. If that was not enough, the modern system would have produced an AL playoff between Seattle and Detroit to decide who would then travel to the Yankees for that wildcard. Oh what could have been? The 2008 season would have been almost as memorable. The Mets had another collapse that took them from the division lead to missing the playoffs all together, under the new system they would have played as the visiting team against the Brewers for the wildcard. But New York would have had double the excitement, because the Yankees would have also been on the road at Boston in the AL wildcard playoff. All of that alongside the Twins and white Sox playing for the AL Central, as the loser would have not qualified for the wildcard and remember too, the White Sox had to win a home makeup game with the Tigers on Monday the 29th of September to force that playoff with the Twins. IN 2009, the same situation played out in the AL Central, but in this case, the Twins came from the dead to beat the Tigers, force a playoff between the two and win that game in extra innings. While that was going on, the wildcard would have featured Texas at Boston. IN the NL, the Rockies did not need a playoff game to advance to the NLDS, under the new system they would have hosted the Giants for the wildcard game, San Francisco edging the Marlins by a game in the 2009 standings.

IN 2010, the Padres appeared to be in route to the NL West flag, then came a 10 game losing streak. When it was over, the Padres missed out on both the division and the wildcard. Under today’s system, they would have played that wildcard game in Atlanta against the Braves, while in the AL, Red sox at Yankees would have decided the wildcard, Boston would have earned that second slot by a game over the White Sox. As for 2011, that is the example of why the new system would have not meant as much, because everything came down to the final day of that season, four games, four teams, two leagues. Tampa was all but done before pulling a victory out of a hat, while at the same time, Boston took what was a certain victory and transformed it into defeat. IN 15 minutes, it went from looking like Boston would hold on for the wildcard, to looking like a tie, to an ultimate Ray’s victory. Yes home field could have mattered psychologically to these two, but would the playoff game on Thursday have had as much impact as what went down that Wednesday night? The same was true in the NL for the Braves and Cardinals, St. Louis had an easy victory but the Braves let one get away, lost in 13 innings and missed out on a wildcard playoff with the Cardinals. In 2012, the Braves with the new system hosted the Cardinals and we all know how that turned out. The Rangers and Orioles were tied and would have had a playoff even without the extra wildcard. In 2013, the extra wildcard created its only playoff for that second birth to this point, Texas lost at home to Tampa Bay, which then went on the road and beat Cleveland for the wild card entry to the ALDS. The Pirates had a memorable NL wildcard victory over Cincinnati, the Reds don’t make it to that game without the second wildcard berth. In 2014, the Royals hosted Oakland in a game as memorable as the Rockies playoff win in 2007. If not for the new system, that game never is played, as KC would have moved strait to the ALDS. Pittsburgh and San Francisco would have had a playoff no matter the system, as they were tied in the standings, the Giants of course would win that game and go on to a World Series championship. In 2015, the Cubs won 97 games and under the old system, they would have sat at home while two other division winners with lesser win totals would have advanced to the NLDS. With the new system, the Cubs came a year ahead of schedule beating Pittsburgh in the wildcard game. Houston received similar benefit in the AL as they went into New York and handed the Yankees a shutout loss.

Now with two weeks left in the 2016 season, we have two teams in the catbird seat for the AL wildcards, the Blue Jays and Orioles, with the Mets and Giants in similar positions in the NL. The Astros, tigers and mariners in the AL are all still within 3 games as we hit the final two weeks of the regular season. The divisions are basically claimed by the Rangers, Nationals, and Indians, the Cubs have clinched, and the Red Sox and Dodgers control their own destiny. Again, let’s look at this in the wildcard era.

IN 1995, the Mariners were streaking and within 3 of the Angels, they would end in a tie and win the divisional playoff. The Rockies lead the Dodgers by 1 in the NL West, Dodgers win by 1 and Colorado takes the Wild Card. AS for the wildcards, the Yankees were a game behind the mariners with 2 weeks left, the Yankees would pass them and the Angels to take the wildcard berth. Houston was in trouble due to an 11 game late August losing streak. They were 1 behind the Dodgers in the wild card race and finished a game behind Colorado. IN 1996, Cleveland was well on the way to the AL Central title, the Yankees held off Baltimore in the East while Texas survived a four game sweep in Seattle and held off the Mariners. The Cardinals had a 2.5 game lead on Houston, the Braves lead the Expos by 5 and the Dodgers and Padres were separated by a half game. The Cardinals and Braves won, the padres and Dodgers ended up tied and San Diego got the division on tie breaks. Baltimore which held a 2.5 game lead on the White Sox for the wildcard would keep that position in the AL and Montreal, 1.5 behind the Padres finished 1 out in the NL wildcard race.

IN 1997, the dodgers and giants were tied for the NL West with two weeks to go, San Francisco wins the division with two more victories over the period and the Dodgers were left at home. IN 1998, the Rangers overcame the 1 game lead the Angels had in the AL West, all other teams did not lose their postseason berth, though the Cubs had to hold off the Mets and Giants. The Giants came from 3.5 back to force a playoff that they would lose and the Mets finished in the same position where they were with 14 days left in the season, a single game out.

IN 1999, The Reds were four behind the Mets and caught them for the NL wildcard, even passing Houston briefly for the division lead after being 3.5 back. All others would be unchallenged the rest of the way. In 2000, the AL West saw Oakland 2.5 behind Seattle take the division with the Mariners settling for the wildcard. Cleveland was 2 games but 4 wins behind Seattle with lots of games to makeup due to weather earlier in the season. The Indians would in theory have to win all 4 to pull into a tie, they fell a game short.

The conclusion of play on Sunday September 23, 2001 would mark two weeks left on the revised 2001 schedule following 9-11. The Braves had a half game lead on the Phillies and 4.5 on the Mets, Houston lead the Cardinals by 4.5, while the Diamondbacks had a lead of 2 on the Giants, 4 on the Dodgers for the NL divisions, the Cardinals were up 3 on the Giants for the wildcard. Everything in the AL was long since settled. The Braves would pull away from the Phillies and win by 2, Houston would be caught and passed by the Cardinals, with Houston forcing a tie on the season’s final day and getting the division with a better record straight up against the Cardinals. The Giants could not make up ground in the wildcard race. In 2002, the Angels lead Oakland by a game, the teams would flip positions between division winner and wildcard, Oakland went 10-3, the Angels 5-8. NL standings would not change, Giants held off the Dodgers for the wildcard.

IN 2003, the Twins and white Sox were tied, 3.5 ahead of the Royals. Minnesota which had been on a hot streak would continue to play well going 10-3 and taking the AL Central. Seattle 3.5 behind Oakland would finish 2 back in the AL West. Houston would blow its NL Central lead, the Cubs 2 back would win the division by a game.

One of the more dramatic changes was in 2004. Oakland lead the Angels by 3 and the Rangers by 5. Texas would sweep three from Oakland to create a wild race to the finish and when it was done, the angels won the division by a game. But the NL also saw a bitter end. The Cubs who had been expected to be a contender went cold down the stretch. They went into the final weeks a half game behind the Giants and a half game ahead of the Astros. Down the stretch, Houston went 9-3 to take the wildcard, the Giants were 7-5 and the Cubs 7-8, 3.5 games behind the Astros winning pace.

IN 2005, Boston was 1.5 ahead of the Yankees, they finished in a tie. The White Sox 3.5 ahead of Cleveland saw the Indians move to within 1, but the Sox would win the division and Cleveland would miss the wildcard as well. The Angels were 2 ahead of Oakland and held on for that division. The NL divisions would maintain their leadership to the end. The Astros would hold off the Phillies and the marlins would fade, giving Houston the wildcard.

In 2006, Detroit lead Minnesota by a game, it would flip with Minnesota winning the division by a game. The story was in the NL, where Houston 8.5 back and in third made a strong charge the final two weeks, falling just a bit short by 1.5 games, cutting 7 off the Cardinals lead. If Houston had won the final day of the season, they would have forced the Cardinals into a makeup game Monday and if they had lost it, the Astros would have had a divisional playoff.

In 2007, the Rockies would do what the Astros almost did the prior year. The Red Sox and Indians would hold off the Yankees and Tigers, the Angels were cruising to a division flag. But then there were the Mets, 3.5 ahead of the Phillies and it had been a larger lead than that days earlier. When it was over, the Phillies had come all the way back. The Cubs who were a game ahead of the Brewers would hold on to win the central. The Diamondbacks were 2 ahead of San Diego, the padres finished 1 back and were a wild card. The dodgers were 4.5 back, they did not make it. But then there were the Rockies, 6.5 back at 77-72. They would finish 1 back and tied with the Padres for the wildcard.
, making up 4.5 games on the Padres and winning that playoff game. Usually for a team to make up 4.5, they play well and have another team slump, like 2001 when the Cardinals caught the Astros. But in this case, the Rockies played out of their mind, going 12-1 over the final 13 games, the Padres were 8-6 and that does not count that game #163 played in Denver between the two clubs.

IN 2008, the White Sox were 1.5 ahead of the Twins, they were a half game back and had to win a makeup game and a playoff game to avoid a difficult finish to their season. Tampa Bay would pull away from Boston and win going away in the AL East. IN the NL East, the Mets repeated the script from 2007, still up a game they would finish a game out to the Phillies and again miss the playoffs. Milwaukee held off a charge from the Astros to take the wild card, also holding off the sliding Mets.

IN 2009, as mentioned before, Detroit let it get away and lost to the Twins. Detroit was up 3 with 14 days to go, that lead would go to as much as 4.5 before it got away. The only scare in terms of other races was in the NL West, the Rockies 5 behind the Dodgers pulled away to take the wildcard and nearly caught the Dodgers, finishing 3 back.

In 2010, the Yankees were a half-game ahead of the Rays, Tampa Bay won the division by a game and the Yankees settled for the wildcard. The Giants were a half-game ahead of the Padres and won the NL West by 2, the Braves would see a 2.5 wild card lead end up at 1 over San Diego. The 2007 season is remembered for the great rally by the Rockies, 2011 is remembered for the comebacks of the Rays and Cardinals that were in part aided by the collapse of the Red Sox and Braves respectably. The final 14 days, the Rays went 9-5, Boston was 4-10 and Tampa Bay 4 games back took the wildcard. IN the NL race, the Cardinals went 9-4, the Braves were just 3-9 and Atlanta blew a 4.5 game lead with 14 days to go. The only team to blow a lead of at least 4 in the wildcard era and do so over the 14 final days playing over .500 are those ’07 Padres.

In 2012, the Rangers blew a lead of 4, finishing a game behind Oakland and settling for a wildcard berth. The white Sox were 2 ahead of Detroit, they missed the playoffs all together finishing 3 back in the central, while the Yankees pulled away from the Orioles to win that division by 2 games. IN 2013, the NL Central was the division up for grabs, Pittsburgh and the Cardinals were tied, 3.5 ahead of Cincinnati. In the AL wildcard race, the Rays, Rangers, and Indians were at the top of the heap, Cleveland would get the top spot and Texas would play Tampa Bay for a playoff to decide the second one. The Orioles 2, Yankees 2.5 and Royals 3 back would all come up short. In 2014, the Royals were at the heels of the Detroit Tigers but could not catch them, settling for a wildcard. The Royals would catch and pass Oakland for the home field, both holding off Seattle which was a game behind KC and finished a game behind Oakland. Pittsburgh which lead the Brewers by 1.5 for the NL second wildcard would pull away with help from the Brewers. Pittsburgh would finish 9-4, Milwaukee just 4-8. Then in 2015, Toronto and the royals would pull away, while Texas held off Houston in the AL West. The Rangers 1.5 ahead won the division by 2. Houston and the Yankees would keep their spots in the wildcard standings, the Astros held off the Twins down the stretch, with Houston finishing 3 ahead of the Twins and 1 ahead of the Angels, Minnesota and the Angels trailed by 2.5 going into the penultimate week of the season.

What this shows is the majority of the time, teams with even a 1 or 2 game lead end up the division or wildcard winner and if teams do blow a lead, it is usually not more than 3 games. NO team has made up more than 4.5 games in the standings to catch the team they were chasing the final 14 days, 2001 Cardinals, 2007 Rockies, 2011 Cardinals and in those situations, no team stood between the Cardinals and the teams they were chasing, one team the Dodgers, was between Colorado and San Diego in the 2007 standings. While the Giants did come from 5 back with a week to go to catch the Cubs, they did not pass them and lost the playoff game at Wrigley.

So enjoy the races these last two weeks everyone, but know that the Orioles and blue Jays are in a significant position of strength even as the AL East teams do beat up on each other these last two weeks. The Cardinals who are 1 behind the Giants and 2 behind the Mets for the NL wildcard positions are also history says in the worst position. It doesn’t help that the Cardinals have a more difficult schedule.

Over Baseball’s final Four Weeks, the Matchups that could Decide Who is Dancing and Who goes Home

With exactly four weeks remaining, or 28 days in the 2016 MLB regular season, many teams still have hope for a bid to baseball’s post season tournament. For many, that hope will come down to an opening NCAA tournament style one game scenario, survive and advance. The team that gets through that wild card game then will feel a huge weight lifted off its collective shoulders and anything can happen. The 1978 Yankees won the 1-game playoff and won the World Series. The 1980 Astros and 1995 Mariners would win one-game playoffs and have memorable postseasons, Houston a bitter loss in a decisive NLCS game five, Seattle losing the ALCS in six is more remembered for the amazing come back in the ALDS capped off by the “double”. While the 1998 Cubs, 2008 white Sox and 2009 Twins won one-game playoffs and then went quietly afterward, the 2012 Orioles and 2013 Pirates went the distance in the division series, the 2012 Cardinals and 2014 Cubs went to the NLCS, the 2014 Royals and 2007 Rockies would sweep to World Series appearances and the 2014 Giants would win it all. So the moral of the story, whoever comes out of the crazy scramble for the wild cards and is living to play on starting October 6, will be a pair of teams that should never be taken lightly.

With that said, let’s take a look at the remaining series on the MLB schedule that have the potential to be filled with drama that helps to unwind the coming story lines that establish who the winners and losers are or put another way, who is dancing into the tournament and who is left waiting outside the ballroom door. Based on standings going into Monday morning, I am not mentioning matchups between teams who are out of contention or matchups between teams who are out of it and teams who have huge divisional leads, which covers the Rangers, Cubs and Nationals.

Monday September 5-Wednesday September 7.
The Mets try to continue gaining on the Cardinals for the second NL wild card with three games at the Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates will try to right their sinking ship and keep captain Hook from walking off the plank as they host the Cardinals for three critical games. Pittsburgh wants help from Cincinnati as well. The Marlins are very much still in the mix and they are rooting for the Pirates and Reds while hoping for success at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rockies who are on the outside of this race can still make a move, as they have two series with the Giants and a later home set against the Cardinals. The Rockies will host San Francisco for three games during this stretch. The dodgers will also be rooting for Colorado, while they try to expand their division lead with three home games against the Diamondbacks. Over in the wild AL race, the Astros currently trail the Tigers and Orioles by 2. Houston plays four at Cleveland as that series will extend to Thursday September 8 in Cleveland. The Orioles play three at Tampa bay and while the Rays are out of it, they have been one of the best pitching teams since the break. Meanwhile, Toronto in a tight race with Boston at the top of the AL East visits the Yankees for three while Boston stays out west and plays an interleague set of three against the Padres. The Yankees and royals, Astros and Mariners are all hoping for a big helping hand from both the Rays and the white Sox, Chicago host the Detroit Tigers for three games. Meanwhile, Kansas city is at Minnesota for three and the Mariners are home for four against Texas, as that series extends through Thursday.

Friday September 9-Sunday September 11.
Pittsburgh will be home against the Reds, this is a four game set that opens on Thursday the 8th. The same is true for the Cardinals who are hosting the Brewers. The Marlins play a weekend home set of three against the Dodgers, while the Mets are at the Braves for three. The Giants are at the Diamondbacks for three, the Rockies at the Padres for four starting on Thursday. Over in the American League, the Yankees open on Thursday with four at home against Tampa Bay, while Toronto plays its first of two series with Boston, a four game set starting Thursday in Toronto. The Orioles and Tigers will play a massive three game series in Detroit and if they beat up on each other, it opens the door for Houston which has a huge home interleague series of three with the Cubs. Chicago may have all but won its NL Central crown by then, so they may rest a few guys before tuning up near the end of the regular season. The AL Central leading Indians are at Minnesota for three, the Royals are at the White Sox for three and the Mariners do the same visiting Oakland.

Monday September 12-Wednesday September 14
Everyone opens new series on the 12th, nearly all are matchups that could impact postseason play. Toronto is home to Tampa Bay three games, the Yankees host the Dodgers for three in interleague play, while the same is true for Baltimore at Boston, Texas at Houston, the Mets at Washington, San Diego at San Francisco, Miami at Atlanta and the Cubs at St. Louis. . Several series go four games into Thursday the 15th, Cleveland at Chicago White Sox, Minnesota at Detroit, Oakland at Kansas City and Pittsburgh at Philadelphia.

Friday September 16-Sunday September 18
A couple of series start the Thursday prior and are big four game tilts, Tampa Bay at Baltimore, the Yankees at Boston, the dodgers at Arizona, Toronto at the angels, and a huge showdown between the Cardinals and Giants in San Francisco. NL wild card hopefuls probably will root for whoever is leading to lose enough games to create a tie in the standings, or if the Cards and Giants are tied or separated by just a single game, the horses on the outside will be praying for a split. The Friday-Sunday matchups will include Miami at Philadelphia, Detroit at Cleveland, Minnesota at the Mets, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, San Diego at Colorado, and Houston at Seattle. the white Sox at Kansas City will play a four game series that concludes Monday afternoon September 19.

Monday September 19-Thursday September 22
If the Rockies are still contending, this is their last best chance to make noise and propel themselves into the discussion for the remaining days of the season. They host the Cardinals for three huge games Monday through Wednesday. Other critical Monday-Wednesday matchups are Atlanta at the Mets (Note New York is home for consecutive matchups against baseball’s worst two teams), while Washington is at Miami and Houston is at Oakland. Other huge series to stay up late for, Toronto at Seattle and the first of two series between the Giants and dodgers, this one in Los Angeles. Three game series that are Tuesday-Thursday worth watching, Kansas City at Cleveland, Yankees at Tampa bay, Detroit at Minnesota and Pittsburgh at Milwaukee. What about Boston and Baltimore you ask, four huge Monday-Thursday games to be played between those two at Camden yards.

The penultimate weekend of the 2016 season will surely not be as important to a couple of the teams featured in this list. But knowing with 28 days left in the season that they all still have a chance to be playing meaningful baseball the weekend of Friday September 23-Sunday September 25, we must include these games. A few of these series open as four game events the prior Thursday, so the four game matchups will be Atlanta at Miami, Philadelphia at the Mets, Angels at Astros, Rockies at Dodgers and Giants at Padres. The three game sets opening Friday are St. Louis at the Cubs, Arizona at Baltimore in interleague play, Washington at Pittsburgh, Boston at Tampa Bay, The White Sox at Cleveland, Kansas city at Detroit and Seattle at Minnesota. The Yankees and Toronto will play four in Toronto Friday through Monday the 26th. Note that 13 of the 15 weekend series could still potentially have impact on the post season races.

Entering the season’s final week, some important series could be in play that open Monday September 26-Thursday September 29. The Monday-Thursday series of four games are cubs at Pittsburgh, Cincinnati at St. Louis. and Cleveland at Detroit for their second September matchup. Three game series Monday-Wednesday include a pair of potentially huge series between the Mets and marlins in Miami and Seattle at Houston. The Tuesday-Thursday series feature a rematch between the Yankees and Red Sox in the Bronx, Baltimore at Toronto, Minnesota at Kansas City, the Dodgers at San Diego and if the Rockies are still alive, they open a series in San Francisco.

The final weekend of the season is almost all three game series Friday September 30-Sunday October 2. One series that could have implications does start on Thursday, Oakland will be at Seattle. The Friday-Sunday matchups to watch are: Baltimore at the Yankees, Toronto at Boston, Detroit at Atlanta in interleague play, Cleveland at Kansas city in their second series of the final month and Houston at the Angels for impacts in the American League. As for important National League series if things break a certain way, Pittsburgh at St. Louis for their second series, Miami at Washington, Mets at Philadelphia, Milwaukee at Colorado and the second matchup between the giants and Dodgers in San Francisco.

Play Ball!!!