September is nearly upon us, which means the race to the playoffs is nearly over in Baseball.
Phillies need a big weekend The reigning back-to-back National League champions simply aren’t getting it done this season. Atlanta is doing all in its power to give Bobby Cox the perfect send-off in his final season, leaving the Phillies three games back in the NL East. The Giants lead Philadelphia in the Wildcard race. If the playoffs started today, the Phillies wouldn’t feature. Something has to change fast for the Phillies to work their way back into the post-season.
This weekend Philadelphia travels to San Diego for a three game series with the Padres. San Diego has been the class of the National League in 2010, and enters the weekend with a six game lead over San Francisco in the NL West. The Padres bring a loaded line-up to the mound over the three days, with Mat Latos, Jon Garland, and Clayton Richard all entering the series in good form. Philadelphia is hardly lacking in pitching prowess, with Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels both due up this weekend. Hamels 7-10 record doesn’t reflect how well he has played lately as he has suffered with little run support. I like Hamels to pick up the win on Sunday but bet on the Padres to take the other two games.
Red Sox on the brink Boston’s record would have them in the playoffs, or at least contending realistically, if the Red Sox played in any other division. Unfortunately in the AL East Boston finds itself 5.5 games back from both the Yankees and Rays, meaning the Wildcard and divisional races are equally tough. This weekend the Red Sox are in the last chance saloon at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay hosts Boston for three games and it doesn’t look good for the Red Sox.
The out of sorts Jon Lester duels with David Price tonight to open the series. I like Price, who recovered well from a poor start last time out, to win here. Boston should pull one back on Saturday when Clay Bucholz takes the mound. Bucholz has entered the Cy Young conversation in the American League and he should have too much for Matt Garza. John Lackey is up for Boston on Sunday, coming into the game on the back of his best performance this season. Lackey has struggled against the Rays in 2010. James Shields is starting for the Rays on Sunday, where a victory would make him Tampa Bay’s all-time wins leader. I like Shields to get the job done, giving him the record and a 2-1 series win to Tampa Bay. That should finally kill off what little hope the Red Sox still have of making the playoffs.