MLB week in review
We only had one series for each team last week because of the all-star break. That being said, there was still plenty of action both in the all star game and in games that actually matter towards the standings. This weekend gave us 7 different walk-off hits , but no ending was a crazy as the Padres beating the Dodgers on a wild pitch in the top of the 9th except for maybe the Saturday night game with Baltimore winning over Detroit in extra innings.
This year marks another home run derby where the top memories will once again not be the man who won the event( Prince Fielder). We will remember the moon shots that Mark Trumbo hit along with the "ovation" that Robinson Cano received during his whole at bat. On a side note, I think that was one of the worst things I have seen fans do in a long time. I don't care if he is a Yankee and that he chose two guys to be in the derby that were not Royals. The Derby is about fun and watching stars shine and there is no reason to boo someone for 6 straight minutes. Finally, for anyone that watched it on tv, you will remember how awful Chris Berman is at announcing. That broadcast showed me that he needs to be taken off of the air ASAP.
The game itself was very boring. The NL jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Verlander got roughed up in the first inning and that set the tone for the rest of the game. The only intrigue in the game was for betters who had the total at 8.5 and with 8 runs scored in the first 5 innings, most people assumed it was a lost bet. The NL won 8-0 with Melky Cabrera taking home the MVP. That win give the NL home field advantage in the NL which I feel they will need to have any chance of beating the Rangers or Yankees.
Best of the week
With every player only having one series this week, there is not as much time for them to have a standout week. However, some players made the most of the break and came out on fire. Teixeira, Dunn, Willingham, and McCutchen all had 3 home runs over the weekend. McCutchen stands out as the player of the week as he was also able to drive in 5 runs with a .583 average.
Yesterday was a preview of the cy young race and I feel both winners this year were on display yesterday. Strasburg, Verlander, Cain, Weaver, and Sale all came out and pitched a great game for their teams. After those performances it is tough to say who had the best weekend of pitching, but Felix Hernandez has to get it this week. In his only start, he was able to pitch a complete game shutout in which he struck out 12.
There were a couple of teams that were on fire before the break, and they were able to continue that hot play through this weekend. The Braves are 8-2 in their last 10 with the White Sox, Tigers, Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs all going 7-3 in their last 10. With the Braves play and winning 7 in a row, they have gotten to within 3 games of the NL East leading Nationals. they are starting to bring back memories of the Braves we all grew up with that were unstoppable with Maddox, Glavine, and Smoltz.
The Chase for the Playoffs
We are now halfway through the season and it is time to take a serious look at the contenders and the pretenders. MLB has now added a second wild card slot this year, but I do not see that having any real impact on the league champions. That second slot will make for some exciting games and will generate more revenue and it will enable a large group of fans to get excited for a playoff push that normally they would not be excited for, but at the end of the day, I do not see any way that any team besides the Angels, Rangers, or Yankees win the AL with either the Cardinals, Reds, Giants or National winning the NL.
The Division leaders have started to show their dominance and are puling away from the other teams. The Yankees are playing great baseball and look like the most dominant team and currently are 8 games up on the Orioles. Yes, the AL East is tough, but there is no way the Yankees will not pull away with this division. The Central has gone from Cleveland dominating it to the White Sox holding a 3.5 lead over the Tigers. This should be a two team race down the stretch, with the 2nd place team making a strong push for one of the wild card positions. The AL West is a two team race with the Rangers holding a 5 game lead over the Angels. With the Rangers Pitching, Defense and Offense, I do not see anyway they do not win this division with the Angels winning the wild card.
As for the National League, the division races are a lot closer and more competitive. The Giants have a 1.5 game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West, but with the way the Dodgers offense is playing, that lead mine as well be 10 games. In the Central, The Reds are .5 games up on the Pirates and hold a 3.5 lead on the Cardinals. This is the best race in Baseball, and I see the 2nd and 3rd teams in this division holding off the Braves and Dodgers to claim both wild card spots. In the East, the Nationals hold a 3 game lead on the red hot braves.
As for the wild card races, they are both very close and with the all of the teams playing comparable baseball, these races should stay close throughout the rest of the year( AL only had 3 teams below .500 at the all-star break).
Currently, the Angels and Orioles are tied for the top two wild card sports, and there are 6 teams all within 2 games; Detroit, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Boston and Toronto.
In the NL, Atlanta and Pittsburgh are tied for the lead with the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Brewers all within 4 games.
What to watch for this week
Will they stay or will they go? That is the question for a handful of players as the trade deadline approaches. We could see a lot of guys playing their hardest trying to show off for a new team in the next 1-2 weeks. Players like Justin Upton, Chris Young, Shane Victorino, Alfonso Soriano, Cole Hamels, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and many others could be on the move. If any big moves or made, that could shake up everything in the division races.
If the Red Sox want to stay in any sort of playoff contention, this would be the week to start playing well. They have 6 games at home against the White Sox and Blue Jays. Both teams will be battling them for the wild card spots, and Boston needs to show that they have turned it around. Also, the White Sox series will be interesting for Youkalis to see how he plays in his first trip back to Fenway.
The Angels have a very tough week in front of them. They are in danger of slipping out of contention in the Al West and do not want to lose their position in the wild card. They travel to Detroit who is playing great ball now, but luckily for Anaheim, hey get to miss Verlander. Then they host Texas at home and that could be a defining series for how the rest of the Al West is going to play out.
This is pretty much a make or break week for Cleveland. They have already fallen to third in the AL Central and are in danger of falling completely out of the wild card race. They travel to Tampa and then host Baltimore. If they struggle this week, they may have dug themselves a whole they can't get out of.
The Braves look to continue their hot streak when they face two division leaders this week. They start off the week at home against the Giants and then go on the road to face the Nationals. If they can keep up this torrid play, we could see a serious shake up in the standings.
Houston plays San Diego and Colorado this week, in two series I, along with everyone in the country outside of fans of these teams, could care less about.