Sept. 19-25th 2022
MORE CLINCHES ACTIVATED!
Several teams clinched playoff spots this week. The New York Yankees will see postseason baseball and are on the path to securing the AL East, likely within the next week. Cleveland wrapped up the AL Central with the fewest wins of any division leader. They also got into some hot water over an extremely tasteless Rookie dress-up day.
Houston has clinched the AL West division and as of Sunday and sits pretty atop the league at 101 wins. Personally, I’m slightly pulling for the Yankees to topple the Astros in the postseason. One, because a Yankees-Dodgers World Series is the stuff of legend. And two, I’m just not emotionally prepared to face the Astros again. There’s too much bad blood and distrust for it to be anything but ugly, even if most of the key players aren’t around anymore.
Mets and Atlanta also secured postseason spots, it just remains to be seen who will win the division and who will settle for a wild card spot. As of Monday morning, the Mets are ahead of the Braves by a game and a half. Padres and Phillies round out the rest of the NL Wildcard with Milwaukee a game and a half back.
A painful closing homestand for the Rockies this year. They entered the week with a hair’s breadth of a chance of getting a playoff spot. They finished the week getting outscored by twenty-six runs at the hands of two division rivals.
The Giants swept the Rockies in four games with a run differential of at least three for every game. Out for a little redemption, the Rox squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Padres on Friday but dropped the final two games of the series. Hard.
It’s a story that’s been oft repeated at Coors Field this year. The Rockies will finish just half a game over .500 at home for 2022. For a team that doesn’t travel well, home fielders being well versed in the particular challenges of Coors was a vital part of keeping the Rockies in the win column. With a home ERA of 5.30 on the season, that’s definitely not the case this season.
Despite the thin mountain air, the Rockies rank 23rd in home runs as a team. Yet they are still hitting into their giant outfield. They rank sixth in overall batting average as well as in hits. It’s just not translating into wins this year.
Questions about their analytical and development abilities come into play. It’s well known that Arenado was ready to leave for a while before getting out of Colorado, citing the team’s seeming unwillingness to do what it takes to win. We have to assume the organization has made improvements since the scathing Athletic article that laid bare deep institutional problems. But with such a record this year, it’s harder to see where those improvements might be.
The Rox travel to San Francisco for three games before heading down to Los Angeles for six games against their division winners.
A little bit of redemption and revenge for the D-back this week. Last week the Dodgers celebrated their division-clinching win in the Arizona guest clubhouse. This week, they took two out of five from the Dodgers in a series that included a doubleheader on day two.
Long-time Dodger antagonist Madison Bumgarner collected his first win since July from the Boys in Blue, giving up a single solo homer to Mookie Betts in the fourth, the only Dodger run for the game.
The D-backs came within half a game of breaking .500 for the season. With the rest of their games on the road, they’ll have to wait until next year to best that percentage.
San Francisco Giants
With a Wild Card Elimination number of 2, the Giants still have a chance at seeing playoff baseball. Yes, they are still 8.5 games out of the slot. Yes, their chances are small. But the chance is there and winning six of seven games this week is what kept the hope alive. If things go well for them and poorly for both Philadelphia and Milwaukee…maybe, maybe.
In reality, the Giants are already turning their eyes to next year and future seasons. The tinkering and auditions seem unending, with over fifty transactions posted in the month of September so far. Trade candidate and five-minute phenom Lewis Brinson was outrighted to AAA.
The Giants will end their season with a sampler of the NL West, minus their biggest rivals. They host Colorado and Arizona this week then finish on the road in San Diego.
San Diego Padres
The Padres are doing pretty well. Soto is back to form, hitting .423 with two home runs in his last seven games. They won four and lost two and remain wedged tightly into the second wildcard slot.
They face the Dodgers on Tuesday and will try to beat the daylights out of them and will probably win at least one. Thing is, the Padres need to keep as much ground as they can over Philly and Milwaukee to stay in the second wild card slot. Snell is lined up to pitch the first game and doesn’t often fair well against Los Angeles. And while I’m sure they always, always want to win, the Dodgers truly just need to remain sharp and not get hurt. So I guess what I’m saying is don’t look to me for betting advice on this series, just flip a coin.
Regardless, the Snell-Anderson matchup is likely to set the tone for the rest of the series. After the Dodgers, the Padres play the White Sox and the Giants. And unless they completely break down, they’ll probably wallop both teams. I think they make the playoffs rather handily this year.
Los Angeles Dodgers
With the Dodgers in cruise control for the rest of the season, the biggest event this week for the team – for all of baseball, really – was Albert Pujols and his 700th career home run. It was a packed house of 50,041 baseball fans and all of them knew they were seeing baseball history. And they showed it with several minutes of much-deserved adulation.
But to me, the biggest sign of the love Dodger fans have for Tío Albert came on Sunday afternoon, two days after the red letter day, when a ho-hum pinch-hit strikeout in the top of the ninth resulted in a standing ovation from fans. Residual appreciation for 700? Perhaps a little. But fans won’t soon forget watching a legend come back to life who helped inspire a team to a franchise-best 106 wins.
And rookie pitcher Andre Jackson won’t forget striking out that legend in his first career MLB save, either. That the save ticked off the 106th win to match that franchise record with nine games left in the season ranks as unforgettable as well.
The Dodgers face the Padres in San Diego before heading home for a six-game series against the Rockies, courtesy of the lockout rescheduling.
Here’s to hoping everyone on every team stays safe and hale and hearty going into the playoffs.
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