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Tag:Twins
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:37 am
 

Pepper: Capping Strasburg's 2012 innings

Strasburg

By Evan Brunell

Inning limit: As Stephen Strasburg prepares to dazzle baseball with his skills Tuesday night in his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery, the question arises as to exactly how many innings the Nats can get out of its presumptive ace next season.

As the Washington Times writes, Washington determines inning limits on an individual basis, taking into account "their age, conditioning, innings in the previous season and big- league innings before the injury." For example, Jordan Zimmermann was shut down at 161 1/3 innings this season, the season after his own Tommy John surgery. That represented a 20 percent increase over his previous career-high set in 2009, which is a traditional barometer in baseball.

Assuming the same 20 percent increase, Strasburg would throw 147 innings in 2012, up from 2010's 123 2/3 innings between the majors and minors. That limit is based off his previous high, not off any complications from the surgery, which could factor in -- although other pitchers have cracked 200 innings a year after surgery, so that shouldn't hold Strasburg back. Washington won't make any type of determination until spring training, which is the smart move. Bank on a cap similar to Zimmermann's 160, but that could always change if the Nats find themselves in a postseason race down the stretch.

Mattingly eager
: Don Mattingly, skipper of the Dodgers, is eager to see Strasburg at work against the Dodgers.  "He's created a buzz, that's for sure, last year, and [he] continues to," Mattingly told MLB.com. "And he's produced. When he's pitched, he's pitched well."

Span back: The concussed Span is back with the Nationals after resting at home in Tampa for the past week. Span, who suffered the injury on June 3 and later hit the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3, still harbors hope of returning this season. "I do truly believe that I will be back on the field," Span told MLB.com. "When? I don't know. But I will be back out there. If things go good, I would like to go into the offseason having played in some games here. I'd rather do that than go into the offseason not playing at all."

It's always interesting to hear a player's take on concussions, as it remains a relatively new (at least, as far as admitting the injury and properly diagnosing it goes) injury and one that is still undergoing plenty of research. Here's Span's take:

"It's not a normal injury," he said. "Sometimes you start wondering if people believe what you're telling them about how you feel. So mentally, it's little things like that. You know how this game is and all masculine sports -- everybody feels that if you're not bleeding, you should go out there and play. And I tried doing that, so it's not like I didn't try. So that's been tough for me."

Retirement? Hideki Okajima doesn't know what his future will hold, but it's definitely not Boston. Despite pitching well in Triple-A after a failed early-season stint with the Red Sox, Okajima hasn't returned since being outrighted off the 40-man. Once a strong setup man, the ensuing years haven't been kind to the Japanese left-hander, but he didn't help himself by saying he'd rather remain in Pawtucket than return to Boston when he was first demoted back down to Triple-A.

Now, Okajima isn't sure what type of offers he will get from other clubs in the winter, but wouldn't rule out a return back to Japan or even retirement.

"I didn't expect to be in this situation, but this is reality," he told the Providence Journal. "I am here. It's obviously very disappointing to be in this situation in this point in the year, but this is reality and this is where I belong right now. I've accepted that fact and just have to rethink how I approach the game so I can be where I want to be next season."

Ziegler adjusting: It took some time for the former A to adjust to life as a Diamondback, both with the transition to the NL and trying to conform to Arizona's philosophy of varying times to the plate to help control the running game. He hasn't allowed a run or walk in his last 4 1/3 innings over six games, stranding eight baserunners. "The National League style of ball is different and it took a little getting used to," Ziegler told MLB.com. "Hitters are more aggressive early in the count and it made a difference just in how I had to approach each at-bat."

9/11: The Yankees won't be in the city for the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 this Sunday, so will hold a ceremony on Wednesday. Click through to read what the ceremony will hold. (MLB.com)

Furcal wants to return: Rafael Furcal hopes to return to the Cardinals after the year, a prospect St. Louis is hoping comes to pass. The Cards have a busy offseason on their hands, so Furcal may have to wait, but given the shortstop's brittle body, isn't expected to command a significant deal. Ideally, the Cards would ink Furcal for one season on an incentive-laden contract. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Social media: After being part of one of the more controversial plays -- and certainly the most controversial in replay history thus far -- the Marlins' Bryan Peterson discussed the play for a half-hour on Twitter before calling it quits when tweets got derogatory. It's incredible how fast the social media revolution has hit baseball, as now players are taking to Twitter to discuss controversial plays with the fanbase. That would have been unheard of five years ago. (MLB.com)

Drafting time: Baseball players take their fantasy sports seriously. Just check out this photo Matt Kemp tweeted of the Dodgers' fantasy football draft. (Kemp's Twitter)

Rookie time: The Marlins called up third baseman Matt Dominguez as part of September callups. It's the first stint in the bigs for Dominguez, who was considered a heavy favorite to open the year as the starting third baseman. He won't play extensively down the stretch, but will be showcasing himself to be next season's starting third baseman. (MLB.com)

Good news: The Mets got encouraging reports on two injured players integral to the team. Johan Santana is proceeding on pace and will throw on Friday in a minor-league game. With playoffs likely over after the weekend, that would line up Santana's next stint to come in the majors, where he'd throw two or three innings. Meanwhile, Ike Davis participated in baseball activities all weekend pain-free. Doctors still need to sign off on his ankle, but it appears as if he will be 100 percent for spring training. (ESPN New York)

Speaking of... Speaking of Davis, here's some more stuff on the Mets first baseman, who believes he won't need surgery on his ankle. "The bottom line is there are gonna be some effects from this my whole life," Davis told the New York Post. "Either arthritis or something else later on, but as long as it's not sharp pain, [I can play]." While doctors are expected to sign off on his ankle, Davis says it's a day-to-day thing at this point, so surgery remains possible.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:43 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 12:49 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Jesus connects twice



By Matt Snyder


Jesus Montero, Yankees. Monday was quite a day for the Yankees' heavily hyped young slugger. The 21 year old hit his first and second career major-league home runs in an 11-10 Yankees' victory. The locals were excited enough that Montero got a curtain call after each homer. Meanwhile the Yankees opened up a 2 1/2 game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East with their fifth consecutive victory.

Doug Fister, Tigers. You think the Tigers don't have a good starting pitcher after Justin Verlander? Think again. Fister dominated the Indians for eight innings, allowing only four hits and one earned run while striking out 13 in a 4-2 win. His ERA is down to 3.17. If you insist on looking at his win-loss record (7-13), at least concede his playing for the Mariners until late July drastically hurt him.

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays. Neither the Red Sox nor the Blue Jays scored a run through 10 1/2 innings Monday, but the Jays' rookie third baseman came through with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th. He also stole a base earlier in the game as he continues to pretty much do it all for his ballclub. Though it's tough for the Blue Jays to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in terms of payroll in the AL East, an offensive nucleus of Jose Bautista, Adam Lind and Lawrie looks pretty damn solid for the next several years.

Also take note of the efforts put forth by James Shields (click here), Cliff Lee (click here) and Zach Stewart (click here), who had big Labor Day outings in their own right.



Andrew Bailey, Athletics. He only faced four hitters in the 10th inning, but it was enough to gather the loss after giving up three hits and being charged with three earned runs while only recording one out in an 11-6 loss.

Padres offense. The Padres managed two runs against the Giants, which wouldn't normally be that bad, but it's a season-long issue that we're going to point out. Giants starter Madison Bumgarner struck out 13 while reliever Santiago Casilla struck out two as the Padres fell 7-2. It marked the 11th time this season the Padres' offense has collectively struck out 13 or more times in a game (Follow the Padres via Twitter). When power is an issue (the Padres rank dead last in the majors in home runs) and speed is a strength (the Padres are first in the majors in stolen bases), it's probably a good idea to put the ball in play as much as possible.

Twins offense. They managed one run on eight hits Monday ... in a doubleheader. The Twins also had two walks and only one extra base hit. They only left nine men on base, which wouldn't be so awful for two games, except for the fact that they only got 10 guys on base. In light of this, the 4-0 and 2-1 losses shouldn't be surprising.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 9:38 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Valencia breaks up Stewart's perfect game bid

By Matt Snyder

Rookie starting pitcher Zach Stewart came to the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson/Colby Rasmus three-way trade in July, and Monday evening he started to make a name for himself. The 24-year-old pitcher got the start in the second game of a doubleheader against the Twins, and he cruised through 7 1/3. In fact, he had a perfect game until Danny Valencia doubled to right field with one out in the seventh.

The outing comes as a bit of a surprise, as Stewart was shelled in his previous two outings. Plus, this is only his eighth career start.

Still, he went the distance, allowing only Valencia's double in a complete game shutout. He struck out nine and dominated the Twins from start to finish in a 4-0 White Sox victory. They are now eight games behind the Tigers in the AL Central playoff race.

There are two perfect games in White Sox history, most recently Mark Buehrle on July 23, 2009 against the Rays. Click here to see a list of all perfect games in MLB history.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 9:38 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Valencia breaks up Stewart's perfect game bid

By Matt Snyder

Rookie starting pitcher Zach Stewart came to the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson/Colby Rasmus three-way trade in July, and Monday evening he started to make a name for himself. The 24-year-old pitcher got the start in the second game of a doubleheader against the Twins, and he cruised through 7 1/3. In fact, he had a perfect game until Danny Valencia doubled to right field with one out in the seventh.

The outing comes as a bit of a surprise, as Stewart was shelled in his previous two outings. Plus, this is only his eighth career start.

Still, he went the distance, allowing only Valencia's double in a complete game shutout. He struck out nine and dominated the Twins from start to finish in a 4-0 White Sox victory. They are now eight games behind the Tigers in the AL Central playoff race.

There are two perfect games in White Sox history, most recently Mark Buehrle on July 23, 2009 against the Rays. Click here to see a list of all perfect games in MLB history.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Remembering the best races of the past 5 years



By Matt Snyder

This coming Wednesday will mark three weeks until the final day of Major League Baseball's regular season for 2011. While it's possible we'll have something go down to the wire -- Rangers-Angels, perhaps? -- many of the races seem to be turning into a yawnfest. With that in mind let's re-live the best race in each of the past five seasons.

2006 - NL Central
The Cardinals won the World Series that year, but almost blew a chance at the playoffs. With an injury-depleted roster, the Cards lost nine of 11 games from September 18-28, seeing a seven-game lead dwindle down to just a half-game over the Astros. A four-game sweep in Houston didn't help. The funny thing was, the Reds were actually tied for first with the Cardinals after winning on August 24 but went through a similar swoon to fall back. After pulling into that tie with the Cardinals, the Reds lost nine of 10 games. The Astros had simply been a mediocre team all season, but the futility of the teams above them made this a three-team race. The result was the Cardinals winning the division after buckling down and winning three of four to clinch with one day left in the season. They finished an uninspiring 83-78, with Astros finishing 1 1/2 games back and the Reds 3 1/2 back. Still, they won it all and proved all you have to do is get there to have a shot.

2007 - The entire NL
The Rockies get most of the ink here, and rightfully so, but every single race in the National League was a good one in '07 while the AL races weren't overly exciting at all. The Central division was actually the least exciting of the races in the NL, and the Cubs only won it by two games. The Brewers were tied with the Cubs on September 18, but the Cubs won four straight and built a 3 1/2 game lead. Like I said, that was the least exciting race in the NL. The Phillies trailed the Mets in the NL East -- and sometimes the Braves -- for the overwhelming majority of the season. In fact, the Phillies never saw first place until September 27, and even then it was a tie with the Mets. The Mets had a seven-game lead on September 12, but proceeded to lose six of seven games and see their lead shrink to 1 1/2 games. The Mets then won three straight and looked like they would hold on, but five consecutive losses then handed the lead to the Phillies. The Mets did win a game and pull to within a tie prior to the last game of the season, but lost that while the Phillies won and took the East. And now we get to the West/Wild Card race(s). It looked like the Padres and Diamondbacks were going to have a two-team race with the loser getting the Wild Card, but then the Rockies historical run happened. They won 14 of their last 15 games, including that extra-inning victory over the Padres in the one-game playoff -- in which Matt Holliday may or may not have touched home plate when scoring the winning run. The game was an absolute classic, with the Padres scoring two runs in the 13th, followed by the Rockies getting three off future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman in the bottom half of the inning. This game was for the Wild Card, as the D-Backs were able to finish the regular season with a one-game lead over both the Padres and Rockies. The Padres actually held a two-game lead over the Rockies with two games to play, and lost both of them -- only to lose in the one-game playoff as well. It should be noted that the Mets were only one game behind the Padres heading into the last day of the season, so a win would have made for a three-way tie in the Wild Card. Basically, what looked like a Mets, Diamondbacks, Padres and Cubs/Brewers playoffs became totally different after the Phillies and Rockies got different degrees of hot in the last few weeks. Maybe that season provides hope for an interesting September in 2011?

2008 - AL Central
The White Sox led by as many as six games in June, but a 10-game winning streak by the Twins knotted the two and they'd stay neck and neck for the rest of the season. The two teams were tied on three different days in September and weren't separated by more than 2 1/2 games all month. What was interesting here is the White Sox finished the season a half-game behind the Twins. There was a lingering rainout against the Tigers that the White Sox had to play the Monday following the conclusion of the actual season. If they won that, it would be a tie for first in the Central and the White Sox would host a one-game playoff. They beat the Tigers 8-2 and then took down the Twins 1-0 behind a masterful performance from John Danks (eight shutout innings, only two hits allowed). The only run the White Sox scored was a solo home run from Jim Thome in the bottom of the seventh.

2009 - AL Central
The Tigers had a seven-game lead after winning September 6, but went 11-15 the rest of the way. The Twins went 18-8 and ran them down, ending the season in a tie for the AL Central crown and forcing what would become an epic one-game playoff. Interestingly enough, the Tigers had a two-game lead heading into the penultimate series of the year, which was a four-game set against, yes, the Twins. It was in Detroit and the Tigers came away with a split. That should have been good enough, as the Tigers now had a two-game lead with three to play. Instead, the Tigers dropped two of three to the White Sox while the Twins swept the Royals. Thus, the one-game playoff would be played in the Metrodome. It would be one of the more exciting baseball games in recent memory. Nine innings weren't enough, as the game headed to extras knotted at four. The Tigers scored in the top of the 10th, but the Twins answered in the bottom half, spurred on by a leadoff triple from Michael Cuddyer. The Twins nearly won the game that very inning, but Alexi Casilla was hosed at home plate by left fielder Ryan Raburn on a potential sacrifice fly. Casilla came away the hero in the 12th, however, as he plated Carlos Gomez (pictured left with Joe Mauer) in the 12th with a walk-off single.

2010 - NL West/Wild Card
Like the Cardinals in 2006, the Giants ended up being the World Series champs after nearly missing out on the postseason. The Giants trailed the Padres by 6 1/2 games on August 25, but from September 4 until September 30, no more than two games separated the two teams. The pivotal series ended up being the Padres losing three of four at home to the lowly Cubs. This put them down three games with three to play. Wouldn't you know it, though, that the final three games were against the Giants. So the Padres could sweep the Giants and force a one-game playoff. Essentially, they controlled their own destiny, but would have to beat the Giants four times in a row. They did win the first two, but Jonathan Sanchez and five other pitchers would shut the Padres out on the final game of the regular season, and the Giants won the West by two games. In the Wild Card race, the Padres had the lead until that fateful Cubs' series, during which the Braves swept the Marlins and passed the Padres. Still, the Braves lost two games as the Padres took the first two from the Giants in the final weekend, meaning the Braves and Padres were tied with one game left. The Padres lost while the Braves survived two late rallies by the Phillies, winning 8-7.

So, will any of the present races provide the kind of excitement we've seen in the past few years? Considering the runner-up of the AL East is going to be the Wild Card, it appears our only chance is the AL West. Then again, would we have predicted the '07 Rockies or '09 Twins to make up the ground they did? That should at least provide some hope for fans of teams like the Giants and Indians this year.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 5, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Remembering the best races of the past 5 years



By Matt Snyder

This coming Wednesday will mark three weeks until the final day of Major League Baseball's regular season for 2011. While it's possible we'll have something go down to the wire -- Rangers-Angels, perhaps? -- many of the races seem to be turning into a yawnfest. With that in mind let's re-live the best race in each of the past five seasons.

2006 - NL Central
The Cardinals won the World Series that year, but almost blew a chance at the playoffs. With an injury-depleted roster, the Cards lost nine of 11 games from September 18-28, seeing a seven-game lead dwindle down to just a half-game over the Astros. A four-game sweep in Houston didn't help. The funny thing was, the Reds were actually tied for first with the Cardinals after winning on August 24 but went through a similar swoon to fall back. After pulling into that tie with the Cardinals, the Reds lost nine of 10 games. The Astros had simply been a mediocre team all season, but the futility of the teams above them made this a three-team race. The result was the Cardinals winning the division after buckling down and winning three of four to clinch with one day left in the season. They finished an uninspiring 83-78, with Astros finishing 1 1/2 games back and the Reds 3 1/2 back. Still, they won it all and proved all you have to do is get there to have a shot.

2007 - The entire NL
The Rockies get most of the ink here, and rightfully so, but every single race in the National League was a good one in '07 while the AL races weren't overly exciting at all. The Central division was actually the least exciting of the races in the NL, and the Cubs only won it by two games. The Brewers were tied with the Cubs on September 18, but the Cubs won four straight and built a 3 1/2 game lead. Like I said, that was the least exciting race in the NL. The Phillies trailed the Mets in the NL East -- and sometimes the Braves -- for the overwhelming majority of the season. In fact, the Phillies never saw first place until September 27, and even then it was a tie with the Mets. The Mets had a seven-game lead on September 12, but proceeded to lose six of seven games and see their lead shrink to 1 1/2 games. The Mets then won three straight and looked like they would hold on, but five consecutive losses then handed the lead to the Phillies. The Mets did win a game and pull to within a tie prior to the last game of the season, but lost that while the Phillies won and took the East. And now we get to the West/Wild Card race(s). It looked like the Padres and Diamondbacks were going to have a two-team race with the loser getting the Wild Card, but then the Rockies historical run happened. They won 14 of their last 15 games, including that extra-inning victory over the Padres in the one-game playoff -- in which Matt Holliday may or may not have touched home plate when scoring the winning run. The game was an absolute classic, with the Padres scoring two runs in the 13th, followed by the Rockies getting three off future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman in the bottom half of the inning. This game was for the Wild Card, as the D-Backs were able to finish the regular season with a one-game lead over both the Padres and Rockies. The Padres actually held a two-game lead over the Rockies with two games to play, and lost both of them -- only to lose in the one-game playoff as well. It should be noted that the Mets were only one game behind the Padres heading into the last day of the season, so a win would have made for a three-way tie in the Wild Card. Basically, what looked like a Mets, Diamondbacks, Padres and Cubs/Brewers playoffs became totally different after the Phillies and Rockies got different degrees of hot in the last few weeks. Maybe that season provides hope for an interesting September in 2011?

2008 - AL Central
The White Sox led by as many as six games in June, but a 10-game winning streak by the Twins knotted the two and they'd stay neck and neck for the rest of the season. The two teams were tied on three different days in September and weren't separated by more than 2 1/2 games all month. What was interesting here is the White Sox finished the season a half-game behind the Twins. There was a lingering rainout against the Tigers that the White Sox had to play the Monday following the conclusion of the actual season. If they won that, it would be a tie for first in the Central and the White Sox would host a one-game playoff. They beat the Tigers 8-2 and then took down the Twins 1-0 behind a masterful performance from John Danks (eight shutout innings, only two hits allowed). The only run the White Sox scored was a solo home run from Jim Thome in the bottom of the seventh.

2009 - AL Central
The Tigers had a seven-game lead after winning September 6, but went 11-15 the rest of the way. The Twins went 18-8 and ran them down, ending the season in a tie for the AL Central crown and forcing what would become an epic one-game playoff. Interestingly enough, the Tigers had a two-game lead heading into the penultimate series of the year, which was a four-game set against, yes, the Twins. It was in Detroit and the Tigers came away with a split. That should have been good enough, as the Tigers now had a two-game lead with three to play. Instead, the Tigers dropped two of three to the White Sox while the Twins swept the Royals. Thus, the one-game playoff would be played in the Metrodome. It would be one of the more exciting baseball games in recent memory. Nine innings weren't enough, as the game headed to extras knotted at four. The Tigers scored in the top of the 10th, but the Twins answered in the bottom half, spurred on by a leadoff triple from Michael Cuddyer. The Twins nearly won the game that very inning, but Alexi Casilla was hosed at home plate by left fielder Ryan Raburn on a potential sacrifice fly. Casilla came away the hero in the 12th, however, as he plated Carlos Gomez (pictured left with Joe Mauer) in the 12th with a walk-off single.

2010 - NL West/Wild Card
Like the Cardinals in 2006, the Giants ended up being the World Series champs after nearly missing out on the postseason. The Giants trailed the Padres by 6 1/2 games on August 25, but from September 4 until September 30, no more than two games separated the two teams. The pivotal series ended up being the Padres losing three of four at home to the lowly Cubs. This put them down three games with three to play. Wouldn't you know it, though, that the final three games were against the Giants. So the Padres could sweep the Giants and force a one-game playoff. Essentially, they controlled their own destiny, but would have to beat the Giants four times in a row. They did win the first two, but Jonathan Sanchez and five other pitchers would shut the Padres out on the final game of the regular season, and the Giants won the West by two games. In the Wild Card race, the Padres had the lead until that fateful Cubs' series, during which the Braves swept the Marlins and passed the Padres. Still, the Braves lost two games as the Padres took the first two from the Giants in the final weekend, meaning the Braves and Padres were tied with one game left. The Padres lost while the Braves survived two late rallies by the Phillies, winning 8-7.

So, will any of the present races provide the kind of excitement we've seen in the past few years? Considering the runner-up of the AL East is going to be the Wild Card, it appears our only chance is the AL West. Then again, would we have predicted the '07 Rockies or '09 Twins to make up the ground they did? That should at least provide some hope for fans of teams like the Giants and Indians this year.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:48 pm
 

Twins shut down Blackburn

Nick BlackburnBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Nick Blackburn's season is over, as the Twins placed the right-hander on the 60-day disabled list before Sunday's game.

Blackburn had been on the disabled list late last month with what was called a strained forearm and then later diagnosed as an entrapped nerve in his forearm.

Blackburn, 29, was 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA in 26 starts for the Twins this season. Moving Blackburn from the 15-day disabled list to 60-day disabled list allowed the team to call up infielder/outfielder Brian Dinkelman and right-hander Kyle Waldrop before Monday's doubleheader against the White Sox. The team will need to make another 40-man roster move before Tuesday's game when the team will call up right-hander Liam Hendriks for the game against Chicago.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Playoff race: AL West may be the only one left

Mark Trumbo

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Here's a breakdown of the AL West race, with all data through games of Sept. 3

Texas Rangers
Record: 79-61
22 games remaining: 9 home, 13 away
Winning percentage of remaining opponents: .512
Baseball Prospectus expectancy of division title: 92 percent

Los Angeles Angels
Record: 75-64, 3.5 GB
23 games remaining: 10 home, 13 away
Winning percentage of remaining opponents: .481
Baseball Prospectus expectancy of division title: 8 percent

The two teams have one series remaining head-to-head -- three games in Anaheim on the last three days of the season, Sept. 26-28. Texas leads the season series 9-7.

Playoff race

The Angels headed into Texas on a six-game winning streak at the end of August, but then dropped two of three at Rangers Ballpark and split a series against the woeful Mariners. The Angles split their first two games against the Twins, who like the Mariners enter Sunday with a 58-80 record, before returning home with another shot against the Mariners. The Rangers, on the other hand, finish their series against the Red Sox on Sunday before heading to Tampa Bay to face the Rays for three.

While the Angles and Rangers are at the top of the division, the other two teams in the division could decide their playoff representative -- Los Angeles has three more games against the Mariners and six more against the A's, while the Rangers play the A's and Mariners six times each the remainder of the season.

Since taking two of three from the Angels, the Rangers are 3-2 against the Rays and Red Sox, with another series against the Rays starting on Monday at Tampa Bay. Texas hasn't exactly struggled to score runs this year -- ranking third in the majors in runs scored -- but the return of Adrian Beltre isn't going to hurt. After missing more than a month with a strained left hamstring, Beltre is 3 for 11 with 4 RBI in three games since his return. The Rangers don't expect outfielder Nelson Cruz back until at least the middle of this month, so Beltre's return is a welcome sight.

The Angels made up for a rare bad start by ace Jered Weaver with rookie Mark Trumbo's grand slam and Vernon Wells and Peter Bourjos added solo homers in the team's 10-6 victory on Saturday. Another rookie, 20-year-old Mike Trout, could be the Angels' x-factor. Widely considered one of the game's elite prospects, Trout's played like it in his second stint in the big leagues, hitting .406/.500/.844 with four homers since being called up on Aug. 19. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com