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Posted on: September 22, 2010 4:59 pm

Magic numbers and 8 ball

The Twins are in the playoffs -- not that it's too much of a shock. Minnesota won last night and stuck around Target Field, along with their fans, to watch the White Sox lose in Oakland to clinch the American League Central title.

So who's next?

Here's a look at the rest of the races:

AL East
Leader: New York Yankees
Magic Number: 10
Magic 8 Ball: Signs point to yes -- sure, the Rays can win the next two games and depart New York with the same half-game deficit they arrived with, but let's just stick status quo here and say the Yankees win the division. However, if there is one thing in the Rays' favor, it's their remaining schedule -- three at home against Seattle, followed by three against the Orioles and four at Kansas City.

AL West
Leader: Texas Rangers
Magic Number: 6
Magic 8 Ball: It is decidedly so -- the Rangers have lost four of their last five games and aren't looking great, but even if they don't clinch the division in Oakland during the next four games there, Seattle's coming to town.

AL Wild Card
Leader: Tampa Bay Rays
Magic Number: 6
Magic 8 Ball: Outlook good -- only two teams are still alive in the race, the White Sox and the Red Sox. Chicago's elimination number is two and Boston's is six. The White Sox, well, they're done. And the Red Sox have six games remaining against the Yankees. They're done too.

NL East
Leader: Philadelphia Phillies
Magic Number: 6
Magic 8 Ball: As I see it, yes -- the Braves learned quickly what it's like to face Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, it's a lesson to be repeated throughout the postseason. It doesn't hurt that the Phillies have a day off tomorrow and then play the Mets and Nationals before finishing the regular season with three in Atlanta.

NL Central
Leader: Cincinnati Reds
Magic Number: 4
Magic 8 Ball: Without a doubt -- the Reds are 9-1 against the Brewers this year, and they have four more games against Milwaukee in the final week-and-a-half. As for the Cardinals? Their future is so bright, Tony La Russa is taking off his shades.

NL West

Leader: San Francisco Giants
Magic Number: 12
Magic 8 Ball: Ask again later -- We've got one, actual race as we head toward the last week of the season, so there's that. With the Giants, Padres and Rockies within 2 1/2 games of each other, this one's going to be interesting. The Giants finish their series in Wrigley tomorrow before going head-to-head with the Rockies for three in Denver, followed by a six-game homestead against the Diamondbacks and Padres. The Padres not only have those three games against at the end at AT&T Park, but host the Reds and Cubs after finishing in Los Angeles. The Rockies return home from Arizona on Friday for the games against the Giants, before three with the Dodgers and finishing with four in St. Louis.

NL Wild Card
Leader: Atlanta Braves
Magic Number: 11
Magic 8 Ball: Reply hazy, try again -- the Braves are in the driver's seat, but it seems like they're driving a Yugo, going 9-11 so far this month. One of the NL West teams certainly could end Bobby Cox's final season before its natural stopping point -- short of a World Series title, but safely in the postseason.

 -- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: September 21, 2010 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 4:45 pm

Padres down a Hairston

Jerry Hairston Jr. If you've ever had shin splints, you know they're extremely painful. They're so painful, that Padres utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. thought he had shin splints the last two months when in fact, he had a broken tibia.'s Ken Rosenthal tweets that news.

Hairston will need at least a month to recover from the injury, meaning his 2010 season is likely done.

Hairston has played all over the field for the Padres this season, starting 53 games at shortstop, 44 at second base, six in the outfield and two at third base. He's hit just .244/.299/.353 with 10 homers and 50 RBI, but he's been a valuable member of the team, if for nothing more than giving manager Bud Black an option when filling out his lineup.

Hairston was signed to a one-year, $2.125 million contract before 2010.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 18, 2010 2:30 pm

Cesar Carrillo in waiver war

Cesar Carrillo "Hey Cesar, just letting you know we've designated you for assignment. We really appreciate all your service in the San Diego organization since drafting you in the first round back in 2005, but we have a roster crunch and unfortunately have decided you are the one to go off the 40-man roster. We expect you to clear waivers and look forward to working with you in 2011."

"Mr. Carrillo, the Philadelphia Phillies here. Just letting you know we've claimed you off waivers and look forward to your Phillies tenure!"

"Mr. Carrillo, just a quick call to let you know the Phillies have designated you for assignment. We hope to keep you around."

"Hey Cesar, it's... um... us again. We've gone ahead and claimed you back on waivers, so firstly, welcome back to the San Diego organization. Secondly, we've... well, designated you for assignment. Again. Let's hope these pesky Phillies don't intervene again, huh!?"

Such has been the life of Cesar Carrillo for the past week.

Carrillo was a first-round selection (No. 18 overall) by the Padres back in 2005 and rose up the ranks quickly but has stalled out at the higher levels as his arsenal simply hasn't translated.

The righty made his major-league debut in 2009, making three starts and allowing an obscene 15 runs on 16 hits, four round-trippers and 12 walks (with an additional two intentional) against just four strikeouts.

In 2010, the 26-year-old has struggled in Triple-A, posting a 5.60 ERA in 27 starts over 151 innings. He's whiffed 95, but walked 57 and been dinged for 20 home runs.

Carrillo is nothing more than depth at this point and can't even quite be labeled a Quad-A player. (Someone who is among the better players at Triple-A but can't hack it in the majors.)

It's all the more curious why the Padres grabbed him back and designated Craig Italiano for assignment, a 23-year-old relief prospect with a heater. He had a less than stellar season in Double-A but still has plenty of potential.

Meanwhile, Carrillo will cross his fingers he doesn't have to buy any more plane tickets soon.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 18, 2010 1:55 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:58 am

Latos struggling down the stretch

Mat Latos The Padres' 22-year old ace Mat Latos has thrown 45 more innings in 2010 than he did a year ago, but following his second consecutive bad outing, Latos dismissed fatigue as the reason he was rocked by the Cardinals.

"Fatigue is not a factor," Latos told the San Diego Union-Tribune 's Bill Center. "My body feels good. My arm is fine."

He wasn't -- as Latos lasted just four outs, allowing nine hits and eight runs, walking two and striking out one. The 15 batters he faced went 9 for 13 against him and he threw 51 pitches before being lifted.

While Latos said he felt fine and manager Bud Black said he didn't think velocity was an issue, catcher Yorvit Torrealba said Latos didn't have his usual zip.

"Obviously, he wasn't the Mat we know," Torrealba said. "I saw a couple 89 and 90 fastballs. His velocity wasn't there. And he was up, not executing his pitched. And I noticed, too, that they were attacking early in the count. That is something we should consider, although if Mat is making his pitches like he has been, that 95 fastball down and away, we have a lot of one-pitch outs."

The Padres had said during spring training that they wanted to limit Latos to 150-170 innings. With Friday's outing, Latos has now thrown 168 innings and he's scheduled to make his next start, Thursday night in Los Angeles.

If he doesn't improve upon his last two outings (five runs on seven hits in four innings last Sunday against the Giants), the Padres may not have to worry about monitoring Latos' innings in October, because there won't be any.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: September 17, 2010 3:58 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2010 3:59 pm

Friday's Magic Number video

In today's Magic Number video, we discuss the remaining division chase, including a reason why the Cardinals could play spoiler in the National Leauge West. There's also the question of whether the Red Sox -- with six games remaining against the Yankees -- can actually still find a way to the postseason.

For fun, see if you can hear my dog barking in the background -- or maybe that's just me talking about the Mets.

If the accompanying video link isn't working for you, check it out on our video page here.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: September 15, 2010 4:43 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 4:53 pm

Tulowitzki homers again ... and again

Troy Tulowitzki
The power of the mullet is in full force in Colorado, where Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is continuing his unreal home run surge.

Tulowitzki hit a three-run shot against San Diego's Clayton Richard in the third inning, then hit another three-run shot in the fourth off Edward Mujica. They were his 10th and 11th homers in the past 13 games. He had nine homers in the first half of the season.

As points out, the Rockies record for September home runs is 12, and Tulowitzki is just one shy of that with 13 more games on the schedule this month.

In 13 games entering Thursday, Tulowitzki (shown getting a recent post-homer sunflower seed shower) was batting .365 and slugging .981 with 20 RBI, 16 runs scored and 13 extra-base hits. In the first half today, he's tacked on another two homers and seven RBIs.

The Rockies might not even need this late-season surge if they'd had a healthy Tulowitzki all year. He missed 33 games with a chip fracture in his wrist and has only recently gotten back to full strength.

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: September 13, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2010 10:33 pm

Young ready to return to Padres

Chris Young As the Padres begin a crucial series with the Rockies with first place in the NL West hanging in the balance, San Diego received good news about injured pitcher Chris Young.

Young pitched 5 1/3 innings for Class A Lake Elsinore in a postseason game, whiffing seven and walking one while giving up just three hits. It was the third rehab start for Young, working his way back from a right-shoulder strain after missing most of 2009 with right shoulder surgery.

"Health-wise, I felt great," Young told . "[My] stuff was really good, command was good, offspeed [pitches were] good. It was probably, all in all, the best it's been."

Young is chomping to get back on the mound for the Padres, who could really use the 6-foot-10 right hander who went 7-6 with a 3.96 ERA for the Padres over 18 starts in 2008, missing two months of the season due to taking a ball off the face. He struggled in 2009 before going under the knife for a shoulder impingement before hurling six innings of zero-run ball on  April 6.

The Padres are in first place largely because of the pitching that Mat Latos, Clayton Richard and Wade LeBlanc. However, all three are youngsters with workload concerns, and having Young could enable the Pads to give the young pitchers breaks and not miss a beat in the chase for October.

Manager Bud Black, however, is unsure if Young is truly ready to pitch in the majors again this year.

"I just want to make sure that, long-term, he's in a good spot," Black said. "He's had a tough year coming back from some shoulder ailments."

Black added that he wasn't sure what the next step was, but if Young has his way, the next step is onto the Petco Park mound.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 12, 2010 8:04 pm

Here come the Rockies -- again

Jason Giambi
The Rockies' clubhouse should just feature calendars with 12 Septembers on them, because something seems to happen when the month arrives in Denver.

There were big games at the top of the standings Sunday, with the Rangers completing a sweep of the Yankees and the Giants beating the Padres to (virtually) tie the National League West, but the biggest story could be brewing a notch down in that division, where the Rockies won their 10th consecutive game. Jason Giambi hit an 85-mph changeup from Arizona's Sam Demel for a two-run, walk-off homer as the streaking Rockies pulled within 1 1/2 games of the co-leaders.

Baseball fans remember Colorado's incredible streak at the end of the 2007 season, when the Rockies won 14 of their final 15 in the regular season, won the wild card and stormed into the World Series. In 2009, Colorado went 18-9 in September to again claim the wild card. The Rockies lost the first two games this September and have won all 10 since.

The Rockies are actually batting a modest .259 with a .776 OPS for the month, and have a 3.58 ERA (the starters are even better, at 3.16). Five of the 10 wins have come by walk-off or by one run.

Since that 2007 run, the Rockies are 58-33 in September, second only to the Yankees (60-32). It's their month, and things could get interesting in the NL West in the next couple of weeks.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb 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