The American League Wild Card race got much more interesting with the Rays loss to the Toronto Blue Jays last night. R.A. Dickey got the job done much to the delight of the Indians who are now tied at the top with the Rays and it gave the Rangers that much more hope as they are not just one game back. In the NL Wild Card, the Pirates took care of the Reds and are two games clear of the latter team with two games to play. If they win today or tomorrow, they will host the play-in game. Meanwhile, the Cardinals clinched the NL Central with a win over the Cubs.
I got both the Rays and Reds wrong yesterday as well as four other picks. So the night was not as great at the rest of the week has been, but it was still in positive territory.
It is the penultimate day of the regular season. Saturday's picks:
- The Rangers over the Angels: How could you pick it any other way? The Rangers have to win. Losing is not an option. Garrett Richards got popped his last time out by the A's. Derek Holland is the wildcard here. You just never know if he will be great or awful. There is a better chance of the latter at home.
- The Indians over the Twins: Can you ever remember a team just running the table for the last two weeks of a season? It is amazing. They just don't lose against these bad teams. They have two more to go and need them both. Scott Kazmir (woh-oh, woh-oh) over Cole DeVries (rhymes with "he tries").
- The Reds over the Pirates: And now we get to the meatball portion of these rotations. Charlie Morton and Bronson Arroyo will not blow you away. But they will meatball you to death if they are on. I have more confidence in Arroyo.
- The Bay Rays over the Blue Jays: Chris Archer is a bit up and down for my tastes and it is tough to put the season on the line with him. Fortunately for him and the Rays, J.A. Happ is only good against the Yankees. In fact, the Yankees single-handedly keep his career afloat.
- The Giants over the Padres: The Giants are finishing the season on a roll. Yusmeiro Petit has provided a nice little lift too. He should handle the Padres' lineup and the Giants will score a few off of Eric Stults.
- The Brewers over the Mets: Jimmy Nelson, a 2010 second round pick by the Brewers, makes his first Major League start. He has relieved in three games. He has good strikeout numbers in the minors, but his control seems up and down. I still like him better than Aaron Harang. Heh.
- The Athletics over the Mariners: I make this pick with some reservations. First, the A's have already clinched the second seed with little hope of catching the Red Sox for the first seed. There is a chance they stumble in this one if Brandon Maurer pitches like he did his last time out. Jarrod Parker will not go more than six innings I don't think. By the way, Maurer looks a bit like Jack Lord of the old Hawaii Five-0 series.
- The Cardinals over the Cubs: I usually pick against a team after they have clinched and that has worked for me. I call it the hangover effect. And will Adam Wainwright really start this game? There is a chance he doesn't. On the other side, Edwin Jackson tries to avoid his 18th loss.
- The Red Sox over the Orioles: There has been no letup for the Red Sox. Rest? Nah. They have four days to rest next week. Jon Lester has been hot. Wei-Yin Chen cannot contain these Sox. I hope Chris Davis hits another homer though.
- The Tigers over the Marlins: How come nobody hates on Jhonny Peralta? It is weird how we choose who we are going to hate and who we don't. Anyway, the Tigers are not exactly playing sterling ball. And Jim Leyland is still pissed about ending the season in an NL park. But Anibal Sanchez should beat his old mates and Nathan Eovaldi.
- The Royals over the White Sox: There will be two guys named Ventura on the field today. Only one of them should have a job next season. That would be Yordano Ventura. He should handle the White Sox like he did the Mariners. Erik Johnson was pretty good his last start.
- The Braves over the Phillies: If Cliff Lee can strike out 13 and give up less than four hits and still lose, what is Ethan Martin going to do? Martin has not been effective since his call up. Mike Minor makes his last start of the regular season.
- The Diamondbacks over the Nationals: Brandon McCarthy has allowed only one walk in his last six starts and has not walked anyone in his last three starts. That's the good news. The bad news is that he has a 14.5 hits per nine innings pitched rate in those last three starts and a 1.33 homers per nine rate for the season. I still like him over Dan Haren. Plus, McCarthy gets bonus points for supporting the Dodgers jumping into their pool.
- The Dodgers over the Rockies: It would be easier for me to root for the Dodgers if they hadn't signed Brian Wilson. But anyway, Zack Greinke makes his final start of the regular season and if he wins, will finish 17-3. That's pretty impressive. Juan Nicasio goes for the Rockies.
- The Yankees over the Astros: How remarkably ironic is it that Andy Pettitte will be making his last start in the majors against a guy named Clemens? Paul Clemens that is. I understand that the other Clemens might be making the presentation of the Astros' gift to Mariano Rivera. Awkward. Anyway, if there was a baseball god, Pettitte should win his last start and Rivera should save it.
Games of the Day: 104-70