September's Best MLB Headlines

What to Watch for in September

8/28/12 in MLB   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

If you’ve been too busy all summer to follow or if the upcoming football season is about to take over the majority of your sports-watching/following hours, we’ve got all the baseball news that you need to keep tuned with in the season’s last month right here.  In the MLB’s first season of the double-wild card system, both leagues look to promise a thrilling finish that will leave an array of solid title contenders out of the title race in October.   So, which races are the best to follow with about 35 games left to play?  Read ahead:

August 27, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles outfielders Nate McLouth (9), and Adam Jones (10) and Nick Markakis (21) celebrate after a game against the Chicago White Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 4 - 3. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE



When the Yankees got hot in June, it looked like this division was ready to be wrapped up for good.  But the Orioles and Rays have stuck in the chase, and now both have legitimate shots to take the AL East title from the division’s two-time defending champion.  The Rays are 4 games back, while the Orioles are only 3.5 (and currently tied for 1st in the AL Wildcard race with the A’s). 

Important dates for you calendar:
Orioles @ Yankees:  August 31 – September 2
Yankees @ Rays:  September 3 – September 5
Yankees @ Orioles:  September 6 – September 9
Rays @ Orioles: September 11 – September 13
Rays @ Yankees: September 14 – September 16
Orioles @ Rays: October 1 - 3

August 17, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (49) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE4) AL CENTRAL
The Tigers were heavy favorites in the Central before the season, with the combination of money spent by Detroit and what seemed like general apathy across the rest of the division – who was the biggest non-Detroit signing?  Josh Willingham?  But things have turned out quite differently.  The White Sox and Indians got off to the hottest starts in the division, while the Tigers were just chugging along.  Then after a while, the Indians faded and it appeared the Tigers had made their move, but the White Sox continued to hang around.  Now here we are with just over a month of baseball to play, and the Tigers trail the White Sox by 2 games in the division. 
Important dates for your calendar:
White Sox @ Tigers:  August 31 – September 2
Tigers @ White Sox: September 10 – September 13

August 21, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese (23) connects for a base hit against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE3) NL WILDCARD
Yes, the Braves and Dodgers still have a chance of winning their respective games (5 games and 2.5 games back each), but for now, the tighter race is the one for who will finish in the top two wildcard spots.  The Braves and Cardinals are currently tied at the top, with the Dodgers trailing by 2.5 games and the Pirates back 3 games.  The Pirates are the unlikely underdogs we’d all like to see get into the playoffs for the first time in two decades – before Barry Bonds suddenly turned into Arnold Schwarzenegger – while the Dodgers have put pretty much all they can into solidifying a playoff run this year.  Most of the games in the last month of the season are divisional, so these four teams are going to have to win games on their own while hoping other contenders don’t get too hot.
Important dates for you calendar:
Cardinals @ Pirates: Yesterday – August 29
Cardinals @ Dodgers: September 13 – September 16
Braves @ Pirates:  October 1 – October 3

August 21, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitchng coach Dave Righetti speaks with catcher Hector Sanchez (29) and starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE2) NL WEST
Baseball’s second greatest rivalry promises to deliver a thriller of a finish this year.  Finishing top two for the wildcard would be something of a consolation prize for the Dodgers after going pretty much all-in the past month in acquisitions.  Just a refresher on the names that the team has brought in: Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Brandon League, Joe Blanton, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez.  Throw in Carl Crawford for next season as well.  Meanwhile, the Giants lost Melky Cabrera, one of the top hitters in the NL this season, to suspension and their only major recent acquisition was the struggling Hunter Pence.  Still the Giants came into Chavez Ravine and took three straight from Los Angeles last week in rather dominant fashion.  Luckily, we’ll still see the teams go head-to-head six more times this year, including a three-game series at Dodger Stadium to close out the season, and possibly, to close out of the team’s season.
Important dates for your calendar:
Dodgers @ Giants:  September 7 – September 9
Giants @ Dodgers:  October 1 – October 3

August 25, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick (16) and first baseman Chris Carter (22) congratulate each other after they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Oakland Athletics defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE1) AL Wild Card

As of now, four teams are separated by a single game for the top AL wildcard spot.  The Orioles and A’s sit at the top with the Rays 0.5 games back and the Tigers 1 game back.  Then there’s the Angels, who only trail by 4.5 games.  The A’s and Angels without a doubt have the toughest schedules down the stretch.  The A’s have out-of-division series against the Orioles and Tigers and close their season playing 7 of their last 10 games against the 1st place Rangers.  The Angels face-off against the Tigers in early September and play 6 games against the Rangers.  And the teams play 7 games against each other as well.  Then after what should be a back-and-forth standings jumble for 35 days, the top two will face of in a one-game playoff to actually make the playoffs.  So yeah, make sure to stay tuned as the race continues to develop.
Important dates for you calendar:
Angels @ Athletics:  September 3 – September 5
Tigers @ Angels:  September 7 – September 9
Athletics @ Angels:  September 10 – September 13
Rays @ Orioles: September 11 – September 13
Orioles @ Athletics:  September 14 – September 16
Athletics @ Tigers:  September 18 – September 20
Orioles @ Rays: October 1 - 3
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8/28/12   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

The NL West race has the potential to be great.  But only if the wild card is not a possibility for the losers...