A month ago, it appeared highly unlikely that there would be much in the way of drama during the final few weeks of Major League Baseball’s regular season. The Los Angeles Angels were the closest team to knocking off one of the division leaders, and while they may have only been three games back in the standings, they seemed miles behind in talent compared to the Texas Rangers. The Tampa Bay Rays were listlessly dormant and the Boston Red Sox, much like the Atlanta Braves in the National League, were coasting to a Wild Card.

Then, it just seemed to happen. The Rays and Angels continued to win baseball games, and the Red Sox did not. The Braves, suffering from injuries to their starting pitching, went on the skids, and suddenly the resurgent St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants were back in the hunt. And suddenly, a playoff race developed.

It’s one of those situations where I’m almost afraid to look back in the standings or to ask too many questions in case it turns out to be a mirage. Let’s just enjoy what we’ve got for the rest of the year and keep our fingers crossed that at least one of the leads that seemed so insurmountable not that long ago will be toppled. After all, it seems as though Atlanta and Boston are trying their hardest to make it happen.

Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein again blew the game in the eighth inning last night, allowing the Baltimore Orioles to win 6-4. Yes, Epstein could only muster four runs against a team I assume by reading the games summaries was comprised solely of a pitching machine and field nets.

Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays couldn’t take advantage, losing both games of a double header against the New York Yankees. Obviously, blame for this falls at the feet of Andrew Friedman who didn’t trade for more schedule depth at the deadline which his team would’ve likely prefered to having to face the Yankees seven times in their last ten games.

But don’t worry fans of drama, the Los Angeles Angels, buyoed by the Toronto Blue Jays and their awful play of late, have come on like a bad episode of Gray’s Anatomy. After going 11-6 in their last 17 games, the Angels find themselves tied with the Rays, 2.5 games back of the Wild Card leading Red Sox.

Over in the NL, the Atlanta Braves got shutout by Javy Vazquez and the Florida Marlins. Obviously, Frank Wren is an idiot, and a failure as a general manager.

Wren single handedly opened the door for the St. Louis Cardinals to beat the New York Mets by one run yesterday thanks to a five RBI night from David Freese. The Cards are now only 1.5 games back of the Braves.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants in a three hour and forty-five minute game, finally beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-5 to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and move them to 3.5 games behind the Braves for the Wild Card.

Here’s how each team involved in the Wild Card races close out their schedules.

Atlanta Braves (NL Wild Card Holders):

  • three games at Washington
  • three games vs. Philadelphia

St. Louis Cardinals (1.5 Games Behind):

  • one game vs. New York
  • three games vs. Chicago
  • three games at Houston

San Francisco Giants (3.5 Games Behind):

  • one game at Los Angeles
  • three games at Arizona
  • three games vs. Colorado

Boston Red Sox (AL Wild Card Holders):

  • three games at New York
  • three games at Baltimore

Tampa Bay Rays (2.5 Games Behind):

  • one game at New York
  • three games vs. Toronto
  • three games vs. New York

Los Angeles Angels (2.5 Games Behind):

  • one game at Toronto
  • three games vs. Oakland
  • three games vs. Texas

And The Rest

No beisbol for Manny Ramirez after all.

Tampa Bay Rays prospect Matt Moore will get his first Major League start in New York, in the middle of the Wild Card race mapped out above, tonight. But, no pressure.

Our friend, The Common Man, breaks down why it’s ridiculous to blame Theo Epstein for the Red Sox late season spiral.

With all the tangles in the Wild Card races, it’s almost nice to see the New York Yankees definitively win the AL East title. Almost.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie took a bad hop in warm ups and broke his finger. He’ll be out for the season which kind of sucks because he was barely over the rookie eligibility line, which means he played in almost as few games possible to become eligible for this year’s Rookie of the Year and ineligible for next year’s. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Speaking of the Blue Jays, how about that new logo?

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips isn’t going to give his team a “homeboy hookup” after his contract expires at the end of next season.

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington didn’t read Moneyball, but he saw the movie and he thought it was okay. This should make for a great quote on the DVD packaging.

Joe Posnanski is positively Posnanskiesque about Bill James.

On the flip side, it’s Mad Dog Russo giving a very Mad Dogesque performance on Moneyball.

The end of an era: Left handed hitting first baseman Kila Ka’aihue was designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals after the 27 year old put up a .303 OBP and .370 SLG over the last two years in a Royals uniform. Meanwhile, 27 year old Adam Lind has put up a .292 OBP and .437 SLG over the last two years for the Toronto Blue Jays, and bats fourth.

A reason to love Ozzie Guillen:

In the eighties and nineties, people made a lot of money and built houses. The first thing they put in their houses was a gym. In my house, the first thing I built was a bar. The second thing I built was another bar.

I linked to it yesterday to write about Jose Molina, but it’s more than worth seeing and reading another time: Mike Fast’s Baseball Prospectus article on framing the strike zone.

Finally, we did a live stream yesterday: