September 1, 2008

September Begins: It's A WC Race

Four weeks from today -- after Boston plays 26 games in 28 days -- the American League playoff picture will be complete.

One of these four teams -- Rays, Red Sox, White Sox, Twins -- will be at home watching the other three (and the Angels) play in the ALDS. I have been slow to concede the division to Tampa Bay, but after a few minutes with a pencil and paper, I now agree that the wild card is Boston's only ticket to the 2008 playoffs.

On the morning of August 1, the Red Sox were 61-48, 3 GB Tampa Bay (63-44). Boston went 18-9 in August -- easily its best month of the season -- yet begins September a whopping 5.5 GB. The Red Sox played .667 ball (a 108-win pace) but Tampa Bay was able to almost double their lead by tearing through the month at 21-7.

Tampa Bay and Boston have split their first 12 games this season and they have two three-game series left to play: in Boston on September 8-9-10 and in Tampa Bay on September 15-16-17.

Assuming the teams split those series, if Tampa Bay stumbles and goes only 10-11 in its other 21 games this month, the Red Sox would have to go 16-4 to win the East. History has seen some strange things, but a Tampa slide and Boston surge happening simultaneously is highly unlikely.

So ...... the Red Sox must win the wild card -- they lead the Twins by 2.5 games -- and then deal with the Angels in the ALDS.

September Schedule
         BOS     TBR     CWS     MIN
0901 v Bal @ Cle
0902 v Bal v NYY @ Cle @ Tor
0903 v Bal v NYY @ Cle @ Tor
0904 v NYY @ Tor
0905 @ Tex @ Tor v LAA v Det
0906 @ Tex @ Tor v LAA v Det
0907 @ Tex @ Tor v LAA v Det
0908 v TBR @ Bos v Tor
0909 v TBR @ Bos v Tor v KCR
0910 v TBR @ Bos v Tor v KCR
0911 v Tor v KCR
0912 v Tor @ NYY v Det @ Bal
0913 v Tor2 @ NYY v Det @ Bal
0914 v Tor @ NYY v Det @ Bal
0915 @ TBR v Bos @ NYY @ Cle
0916 @ TBR v Bos @ NYY @ Cle
0917 @ TBR v Bos @ NYY @ Cle
0918 v Min @ NYY @ TBR
0919 @ Tor v Min @ KCR @ TBR
0920 @ Tor v Min @ KCR @ TBR
0921 @ Tor v Min @ KCR @ TBR
0922 v Cle @ Bal
0923 v Cle @ Bal2 @ Min v CWS
0924 v Cle @ Bal @ Min v CWS
0925 v Cle @ Det @ Min v CWS
0926 v NYY @ Det v Cle v KCR
0927 v NYY @ Det v Cle v KCR
0928 v NYY @ Det v Cle v KCR

Dustin Pedroia put on a stunning mid-slide deke move with his left hand and was safe with a double on Saturday night. Terry Francona misread FY's celebratory fist pump, thought he was out, and ran out to argue. Oops.
I haven't been so embarrassed in years. I didn't know what Ozzie was doing out there. That was the damnedest thing. ... I didn't want to go back to the dugout because I knew what was awaiting. Kevin Cash is just screaming, "Lay off the Red Bull!" [Brad Mills] is just wearing me out. I could have sworn that Pedroia had thrown his arms up like he was out. I go out there, put my head down, I look up and say, "Why is Ozzie helping me?" And Pedey's like, "Get out of here."
Notes: Mike Lowell hit off a tee on Saturday and may take BP today. ... Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp remained under the weather with the flu. ... There is a chance that Josh Beckett could start Friday night in Texas. ... Bartolo Colon might return to Boston for a doubleheader on Saturday, September 13.

Julio Lugo has returned to the Dominican Republic and will appear in court in an attempt to get back $1.7 million in an apparently fraudulent land deal. (Cue jokes about the fraudulent land deal regarding the shortstop section of the Boston infield.)


9casey said...

If yankee fans and players haven't coceded the wild card , how can we can concede the divison.....It ain't over yet

allan said...

If yankee fans and players haven't coceded the wild card , how can we can concede the divison

Ummm. They are insane -- and we possess at least a dollop of common sense? ... That's all I can come up with at the moment.

I know the 2007 Mets led the NL East by 7 games on September 13. Tampa blowing the AL East is certainly possible -- they lead by 5.5 and many more than 6 to play -- but I wouldn't put much money on it. Actually, I wouldn't put any money on it, but I'll watch and hope.

L is out today, but I can predict her reaction to my realization: "AFT".

allan said...

Mike: "You know what they say, 'When the occult hand serves you gruel, eat it and shut the fuck up.'"

Rob said...

Glad I'm not a Yankee today... One in Detroit, then they fly to Tampa, then from Tampa all the way to Seattle, then to LAAAAAA.

Of course, tomorrow I will become a temporary Yankee fan for three days. I don't find it tough to do, I just find it weird. Last year I'd have liked to see Tampa beat New York... Now I want New York to beat Tampa. Strange things happening all around us!

A Conformer said...

Yeah, I think after yesterday, the only way the Sox are winning the division is a double sweep of the FKR. A man can hope, but I don't think that's gonna happen. You know what, a 5-1 might do the trick, even though it still leaves us 1.5GB.
Anyway, the next time TB plays against Chicago or the Twins, I'll reconsider who I'm rooting for.

tim said...

Let's hear it for realism! While the divison would be awesome, I'll agree it's a long shot.

When I was making my pick for the Yankee E-day, I looked over all of BOS, TB and MFYs schedules for the rest of the year and yeah, looks like it will take quite a bit of a slide by TB to get Boston the division. But hey, once we're in October that's all that counts.

laura k said...

L is out today, but I can predict her reaction to my realization: "AFT".

I'm not gloating or anything. Not winning the division is a disappointment, for sure. But we haven't played that well, consistently.

If yankee fans and players haven't coceded the wild card , how can we can concede the divison...

Hopefully that's not our barometer!

But if Sox fans want to hope for the division, there's nothing wrong with that. If we get it, you can all give me a big fat I TOLD YOU SO, like I gave everyone else last season. (When we never fell out of 1st place!)

laura k said...

Last year's ITYS

Rob said...

Wild one in Detroit...

MFY - 443 0 - 11 12 1
DET - 110 6 - 8 10 2

Bottom of the 4th.

nixon33 said...

not that it REALLY matters but i heard it was food poisoning, and it was youk, beckett, and coco that had it.
read it on SoSH so it MUST be true (kidding!)

i wonder where they ate? perhaps at the sausage stands just outside the park? mmmmmmmmmm

Benjamin said...

MFY win 13-9.

Jere said...

If you assume we split the 6 with them, well sure, looks like we're not winning the div. But if you assume we go 6-0 it'll be a different story.

allan said...

But if you assume we go 6-0 it'll be a different story.

But does anyone really think either side is going to sweep? It's much more likely that the Red Sox end up 4-2, 3-3 or 2-4.

laura k said...

Hey Jere, welcome back. How'd the move go?

Amy said...

Like 9Casey said, I will hold out some thin reed of hope for the Division. It ain't over til it's over. Or til the fat lady sings. Or something like that.

Zenslinger said...

It's kind of surprising that the percentages (also used by the ESPN standings) still hold out a 19% chance for us to win the division. I think that's largely because of our RA/RS differential of +137 compared to Tampa's of +98. Theoretically, that means we've been unlucky and should have won more games than them. But then again, the Angels are only at +59, albeit in a much weaker division.

I am all right with the WC, and I'm reasonably confident we'll take it. The White Sox and Twins will continue to beat up each other, maybe with some help from the Spiders, and I think we can play .600ish the rest of the way, winning 15 of the last 25, maybe more. Tampa may slip a little -- I'd predict we'll come in 2-3 games behind them.

In terms of dealing with injuries and such, I am hoping for that same evenhandedness that is our organizational philosophy. The situation now is not unlike last year, when there was concern the Yanks would overtake us. But there's no reason to feel compelled to win the div at the expense of denying players rest and even DL time so that they can be ready for October. I can't say how far we'll get, but we can at least be assured of having the best chance available to do well. What else can you ask for?