On Deck: Playoff positioning on display
Posted on: August 24, 2011 5:29 pm
By Evan Brunell
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PLAYOFF CHASE: The White Sox are tied for second place at 6 1/2 games and can become alone in second with a six-game deficit Wednesday night, but only if they can take out the Angels. As mentioned above, Los Angeles has won five in a row to move to 3 1/2 games behind Texas. It will send Jered Weaver and his 2.10 ERA to the mound to try to stretch that streak to six games. Weaver will be making his first start since signing a five-year, $85 million extension to stay with the Angels. The White Sox will counter with Zach Stewart, who was acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline and is in the rotation in lieu of the injured Phil Humber. He made two starts earlier in August prior to the injury, then made two relief appearances out of the bullpen and now returns to the rotation with a 3.74 ERA. White Sox vs. Angels, 10:00 p.m. ET
BEST MATCHUP: Josh Beckett and Matt Harrison duel down south in the third game of a four-game series. Both teams have won a game apiece thus far, and Texas is hoping Harrison can down the Red Sox to keep pace with the streaking Angels, winners of five straight. The Red Sox, meanwhile, need Beckett to come out with a victory, as Boston is deadlocked atop the AL East with the Yankees. Hard to argue with the pitchers on either side, with Beckett putting together a resurgent season with a 2.46 ERA. Harrison has caught many by surprise with his fine season, but is checking in at 3.28. Oh, and Boston expects to have DH David Ortiz back in the lineup after a nine-game absence. Red Sox vs. Rangers, 7:00 p.m. ET
WORST MATCHUP: On the flip side of things, Cincinnati and Florida will send hurlers with ERAs over 5 to the mound. Bronson Arroyo has the lower mark, 5.28, for the Reds in the second game of a double-header hastily thrown together to avoid the arrival of Hurricane Irene on Thursday. If Arroyo can eke out a win, it will be the first time Cincinnati has gotten back to .500 since July 6. If you had told the baseball world that the Reds would be under .500 as late as August 24, no one (except Cubs and Cardinals fans) would have believed you. And yet, here we are. Anyways, Arroyo had a brutal July, registering a 7.36 ERA that sent his ERA skyward. It's steadily come down in August, with a 3.81 ERA to show for it. The Marlins, meanwhile, offer up Chris Volstad and a 5.66 ERA. Reds vs. Marlins, 7:30 p.m. ET
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