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Tag:Playoff race
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:52 pm

Playoff race: Breaks going Rays' way

Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Things are certainly breaking the Rays way right now -- especially B.J. Upton's bat.

Thanks in small part to the flying end of Upton's bat, the Rays took the opening game of their crucial four-game set at Fenway Park, beating the Red Sox 9-2.

WIth two outs in the third inning and runners on first and second, Upton's bat splintered on a slow roller to shortstop. Just as Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro was about to field the grounder, the barrel of Upton's bat reached him and he had to dodge the piece of the bat, allowing the ball to go between his legs and John Jaso to score the game's first run and extend the inning. The next batter, Evan Longoria, homered to give Tampa an early 4-0 lead -- all thanks to the bounce of a bat.

The win pulls the Rays to within three games of the American League Wild Card, with three more games agains the Red Sox. A sweep here and it's a whole new ballgame.

Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. TB, 4 vs. BAL, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL expectancy of wild card: 80.6 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
83-66, 3 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BOS, 4 @ NYY, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. NYY expectancy of wild card: 7.8 percent 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
82-67, 4 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 vs. OAK, 3 vs. TEX expectancy of wild card: 2.5 percent

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

Posted on: September 14, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 4:42 pm

Phillies clinch 5th straight playoff berth

By Matt Snyder

The Philadelphia Phillies will be in the 2011 MLB playoffs. Just like 2010 ... and 2009, and, well, you get it. The Phillies haven't missed postseason play since 2006.

In 2011, the playoff berth was clinched with Wednesday's 1-0 victory over the Astros, making the Phillies the first team to officially qualify for the postseason. Quite fittingly, ace starter Roy Halladay spun his eighth complete game for his 18th victory of the season. It was his first shutout of the season, though.

The Phillies have the best record in baseball by more than five games, at 95-51 (the Yankees are second at 90-57), so this first clinch was a mere formality. The next step is the NL East and then home-field throughout the playoffs follows -- remember, the NL has home-field advantage in the World Series due to the All-Star Game victory.

The magic number for the Phillies to clinch the NL East is now four. The magic number to clinch best record in the NL is eight, over both the Brewers and Diamondbacks. Also, no Phillies team has ever won more than 101 games -- which happened in both 1976 and 1977. All these Phillies have to do is go 7-9 the rest of the way to have the best regular-season record in franchise history.

So while Wednesday's win was important, it's merely step one for a team with much loftier goals.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 11, 2011 7:42 pm

Playoff Race: AL West is closest race

By Matt Snyder

The Rangers cruised to an 8-1 victory Sunday and the Angels appeared to be keeping pace, but then the Yankees got two in the seventh and beat the Angels 6-5. This is still the closest race in the league, but the Rangers pushed it to 2 1/2 games, but it's still only two in the loss column. If this stays within three games, the Angels have a shot, as they'll host the Rangers for the final three games of the season.

The Angels had won six of seven before Sunday's loss, which started to put the squeeze on the Rangers, who have alternated wins and losses since September 2.

Texas Rangers
Record: 83-64
Remaining Schedule: 3 vs. CLE, 3 @ SEA, 3 @ OAK, 3 vs. SEA, 3 @ LAA chances at West title: 84.8 percent

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Record: 80-66, 2.5 GB
Remaining Games: 3 @ OAK, 3 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 vs. OAK, 3 vs. TEX chances at West title: 15.2 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 11, 2011 6:54 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 10:08 pm

Playoff Race: Rays inching up on Red Sox

By Matt Snyder

We looked at this race Friday night, and wouldn't you know it, the Rays won the next two games to sweep the Red Sox and pull to within 3 1/2 games in the AL Wild Card. Sunday's 9-1 rout of the Red Sox got the Rays within three of the Red Sox in the loss column. The two ballclubs still have a four-game series against each other, too, but that one is in Boston. A true difference-maker could very well be the 11-game road trip for the Rays. They return home for their final six games, but a bad road trip and the season is over. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have an eight-game homestand. Translation: The time is now for the Red Sox -- who have lost nine of their last 12 -- to wake up and bury the Rays.

Boston Red Sox
Record: 85-61
Remaining Schedule: 2 vs. TOR, 4 vs. TB, 4 vs. BAL, 3 at NYY, 3 at BAL chances at Wild Card: 70.3 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 81-64, 3.5 GB
Remaining Games: 3 at BAL, 4 at BOS, 4 at NYY, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. NYY chances at Wild Card: 10.1 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 11, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 6:56 pm

Playoff Race: Cards zero in on Braves

By Matt Snyder

Well this could be fun. For weeks -- months, actually -- the NL Wild Card seemed to be off the table for everyone but the Braves. But with the Cardinals' 6-3 win over the Braves Sunday, which completed a sweep, it's only a 4 1/2 game lead for Atlanta. The win was the Cardinals' 11th in their last 15 games, while the Braves have dropped seven of their last 10. The remaining schedule is relatively easy for both teams, save for the three each against the Phillies, so it's going to come down to who plays better. Oh, and that 4 1/2 game cushion still bodes well for the Braves. That's a lot of games to make up in two and a half weeks.

Atlanta Braves
Record: 84-63
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. FLA, 3 vs. NYM, 3 @ FLA, 3 @ WAS, 3 vs. PHI chances of Wild Card: 93 percent

St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 79-67
Remaining schedule: 3 @ PIT, 4 @ PHI, 3 vs. NYM, 3 vs. CHC, 3 @ HOU chances of Wild Card: 6.7 percent

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