The Atlanta Braves had their destiny in their own hands. All they had to do was in the series against the Phillies and then suck up the wins against weak teams like the Pirates and the Nationals. They lost big time to the Phillies which killed their division hopes. But they still had the lead in the wild card. That too has evaporated as they can't get a big stop by any of their pitchers and their batting has been silent. The Braves have now lost seven of their last eleven. But they are not alone.
The Yankees took the first two games of the series against the Bay Rays and took a two and a half game lead over their rivals. They then had the lead in the following two games of the series, but couldn't get a stop with their pitching. They gave up a quick ten spot to the Red Sox in the first game of that series. The Yankees have only won five of their last ten and it has not been a good September. It would seem a stretch to think they can make it to the World Series never mind repeat at this rate.
The Bay Rays took those two clutch games against the Yankees and were beating the Mariners. By the end of the day, they could be in first place. But they lost Longoria for the Mariners series and their line up on Friday night featured six batters hitting under .250, three of which were batting .200 or less (Pena, Jennings and Shoppach). If they get the win on Friday, they will be 6-5 in their last eleven games.
The Rangers have played .500 baseball of late as well. Cliff Lee lost again. Hunter hasn't been as sharp. Josh Hamilton is still out of the line up and it's a real good thing they built up such a lead in the division. They too are staggering toward the finish line.
The Rockies, everyone's September darlings have lost four straight and six of their last ten. And on Friday night, they looked bad against Lincecum. The game is still in doubt as of this writing as the Giants hold the lead 2-1 on yet another Burrell homer.
The Reds have played .500 ball in their last ten games and are fortunate that the Cardinals went out and lost all their feathers. They too are limping toward the finish line.
The Padres are playing .500 ball and have been flip-flopping with the Giants for first place the last few days. They are in a fight with the Giants for the division and the Braves for the wild card. Both are dead heats. They have knocked over several gates hurdling towards the finish line.
The baseball season is like a marathon. Like most marathons, teams pace the field for a long time and there is always one or two guys with that big kick to come roaring back to the front in the last couple of laps. The Phillies and Giants are those two guys. And both have been doing it on the strength of their pitching. The Giants and Phillies are so evenly matched in their rotations, it will be very interesting if the two teams meet in the playoffs. Both teams get timely hitting of late and the Phillies are running away with it. It remains to be seen if the Giants' kick will be enough.