Blog Entry

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

Posted on: April 17, 2011 9:43 pm
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The Giants are in Colorado this week, for the first time since Tim Lincecum complained about the "juiced balls" at Coors Field . . . in a game where he allowed just two hits in eight innings.

That'd be a good place to start 3 to watch.

The Angels are in Texas this week, for the first time since the Rangers ended their run of three straight American League West titles.

That'd be a good place to start 3 to watch.

Forget it. So far as I can tell, only one player was so excited about this week's schedule that he tweeted Sunday that he was "on to KC for a 1st place battle."

It was Indians closer Chris Perez. Or @ChrisPerez54 , as he's known on Twitter.

And he's right. The first-place Indians are in Kansas City this week, to meet the second-place Royals.

Now that's the place to start 3 to watch. So far as I can tell, there's never been a true first-place battle between the Indians and Royals.

The only time they finished first and second in the same division, in 1995, the Indians won the AL Central by 30 games and the second-place Royals were actually under .500.

It's been 11 years since both the Indians and Royals both had winning records on the morning of April 18. Charlie Manuel was the Indians manager the last time it happened.

And, of course, it wasn't supposed to happen this year.

The Royals were pointing towards 2012 or 2013, when their best-in-baseball prospects arrive. The Indians were pointing towards sometime in the future, too.

To be honest, the Royals and Indians should have been pointing towards the future. They still should be, but you can't blame either team for celebrating some early success.

If nothing else, they've proven that they won't be pushovers for the White Sox, Tigers and Twins, the teams expected to battle for the AL Central title. The Royals have already impressed opponents with their gritty play and with their bullpen (especially Tim Collins and Jeremy Jeffress). The Indians have impressed opponents with their strong starting rotation.

There will be plenty of time to talk about the Rockies and Giants, and the Rangers and Angels, and even the Yankees and Blue Jays, the fourth pair of first- and second-place teams that will meet this week.

This week of first-place battles belongs to the Indians and Royals.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Rockies, in their entire 18-year history, have never won a division title. They've been to the playoffs three times, but all as wild cards (including in 2007, when they went to the World Series). If they're going to be as good as they think they can be ("You want to become that Philadelphia Phillies-type team," Troy Tulowitzki said last week), then they'd better start winning titles. That means beating San Francisco, and this week, including Giants at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field would be a good place to start. The Giants have their top three starting pitchers going in the series. The Rockies get their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, back on Tuesday, after he missed two weeks because of a cut on his thumb.

2. The Angels are missing Kendrys Morales. The Rangers are missing Josh Hamilton. But as of Sunday, Matt Harrison was third in the American League in ERA, and Jered Weaver was fourth. And it'll be Harrison facing Weaver, in Angels at Rangers, Wednesday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark .

3. OK, so Harrison and Weaver are third and fourth in the AL in ERA. You know who's fourth? One hint: He plays for Cleveland. It's Justin Masterson, who was acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade and until this year was best known for not being able to pitch to left-handed hitters. His left-right splits aren't great this year, either (righties hit .103, lefties .273), but Masterson has already beaten the White Sox, Mariners and Orioles. His next start comes in Indians at Royals, Wednesday night (8:10 ET) at Kauffman Stadium.

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Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 14, 2012 2:17 pm
 

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

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3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
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3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:17 am
 

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:06 pm
 

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition




Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 10:51 am
 

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

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Tomly
Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 22, 2011 3:25 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Sep 23, 2008
Posted on: April 18, 2011 8:30 pm
 

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

I was so excited to see an MLB article with no Yankees...Ah, but no, Dont forget Yanks/Blue jays! WHY!?! Anyways...GO ROX!



Since: Jan 30, 2008
Posted on: April 18, 2011 8:07 pm
 

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

In the comments "OK, so Harrison and Weaver are third and fourth in the AL in ERA.  You know who's fourth?", the writer just told us who was fourth (Jered Weaver), so why does he ask "You know who's fourth?", and have it be someone else no less.



Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: April 18, 2011 7:24 pm
 

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

WOW its just nice to see KC-CLE getting some respect even tho so early in the season as a fan of the Royals its just nice to see some meaningful games no matter what time of year. I still see this as a split 2-2 in the series but it will be fun to see. GO ROYALS!


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