Friday

Weekend Series & DFTU (End of the Odyssey Edition)


Hello again everybody...

Whew...

I finally made it through. The Fair is done. The RNC is done. And I'm not in need of a good defense attorney. Advantage? Me. It's time to take a deep breath, so today's Take may be a touch shorter than usual. Knowing the situation, I'm sure you'll forgive me...

Today I'll give you a quick outline of some important series in the world of baseball this weekend. Then we wrap up with week with everybody's favorite segment, the DFTU.

"I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either."
- Jack Benny (1894 - 1974), American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film

The lesson to be learned there? Life sort of balances itself out. At least if you can stay out of your own way long enough to let it happen!


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First up today, let's take a peek at some important series in the wonderful world of baseball this weekend:

Tampa Bay @ Toronto: Tampa's lead in the East has shrunk to 3.5 games over Boston (whom I hate). Meanwhile, Toronto has become the latest "team nobody wants to play". The Jays are coming off a 3-game sweep of the struggling Twins, and Tampa gets to face Roy Halladay in the series-opener tonight. Ouch. Rays rookie phenom Evan Longoria is still probably a couple of weeks from returning from the DL. The rest of the Rays lineup has done a smashing job of picking up the slack, but as the games dwindle, the pressure mounts. And the Rays will need all the help they can get.

Philadelphia @ NY Mets: The final series of the season for the two contenders in the NL East. The final time the Phillies visit Shea Stadium. The final time I'm going to use the word "final" in this paragraph. This series ought to be a dandy. The Mets are on a 4-game winning streak, while the Phillies have muddled through a 5-5 record in their last 10. But considering the massive comeback the Phillies made in this race last year, their current 3-game deficit is in no way insurmountable. Saturday the Phills send Jamie Moyer to the mound to counter Pedro Martinez from the Mets. But Sunday should be the jewel of the series with Philly's Cole Hamels squaring off against New York's Johan Santana (it's the last month of the season and it still feels weird to type: "New York's Johan Santana")

Los Angeles Angels @ Chicago White Sox: The White Sox were 1.5 games ahead of the Twins when Minnesota began it's 14-game road trip. And they're still 1.5 games ahead now that it's done. They have to be disappointed in that given that Minnesota went 5-9 on that trip. It feels like the Angels have been scuffling lately, but when you look at the standings, they're only one game behind the Rays in the loss column for the best record in baseball. Chicago's in a dog fight for its playoff life, while the Angels have their division all but wrapped up. But in baseball, what looks like a Chicago advantage on paper rarely works out that way. Saturday's match-up of L.A.'s John Lackey and Chicago's Gavin Floyd seems to be the best of the bunch.

San Diego @ Milwaukee: The Padres are shining up their golf clubs at this point, but this series is critical to the Brewers. The Cubs finally have gone on a 5-game losing streak and what have the Brewers done? Lost 4 in a row. Not exactly what Crew fans had in mind. Especially that series against the Mets at home. Oof. I'm not going to say that they have to sweep the Pads here, but a series-win would be a big boost to their confidence. On Saturday, San Diego sends Jake Peavy to the bump to face off with Milwaukee's Ben Sheets. Now that's a pitching match-up to watch!

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Arizona Diamondbacks/Detroit Tigers @ Minnesota Twins: See below.

And on that note, let's transition to everybody's favorite segment, Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 77-63, in second place in the AL Central and 1.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox.

And the Odyssey has finally ended. 14 games later, the Twins are still 1.5 games behind the White Sox. 5-9 was not what I was hoping for on the trip, but since they didn't lose any ground, I'll give them a pass.

That's as long as they take advantage of the next 6 games they have at home. Because after that, it's 10 more on the road. Minnesota desperately needs to get something figured out (especially as concerns their bullpen) on this home-stand, because I can't imagine them having another road trip like that, and staying in the hunt.

As it is, they're now 5.5 games behind the Red Sox (whom I hate) for the Wild Card, so now the focus has to be the AL Central crown. The schedule is slightly in their favor with the White Sox having to host the Angels this weekend, then host the suddenly surging Toronto, and there's still that pesky trip to the Bronx. And of course, of paramount importance, will be that series in Minnesota against the Twins September 23-25.

The Twins host the Tigers this weekend followed by a 3-gamer against the Royals next week. Opportunity? Thy name is Metrodome!

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 71-68, in first place in the NL West and 1.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This is the last series of the year between the two contenders (and I use that term loosely) in the NL West. And so it's the last chance for the D'backs to directly put distance between themselves and the Dodgers.

That being said, I have no clue how this is going to go. Both of these teams have defied predictability over the last few weeks. One day Steven Drew is hitting for the cycle, the next their two Aces are getting bombed. Yes, the unpredictability of baseball is one of its draws. But when it happens like this, it can be maddeningly frustrating.

The upshot for the Snakes is that this is the last series they'll play against a true playoff contender (sorry Jeff, I'm writing off the Cardinals). So a strong finish is a must if they're to have any chance in the post-season. I still like matching up Webb, Haren and Johnson against anybody else's pitching staff in a 5-game series. But I'll like it a lot more if manager Bob Melvin can field a consistently producing line-up.

As stated, Arizona hosts the Dodgers for a critical series this weekend. After that they travel to the Bay Area to take on San Francisco for 3.

That's all for this week folks. Be sure to come back Monday for the Week 2 Picks Post-Mortem, as well as plenty more Sports Take goodness! Until then, thanks for reading!

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