What happened to the playoff races?

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rockies_090907.jpgAre the playoff races all but over? From the Washington Post

Baseball’s playoff race died suddenly this weekend of natural causes. It was five months old. Survivors include the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Indeed this weekend was rough on some of the contenders.

(See standings here, and an analysis of the races here)

The Texas Rangers went 1-2 against the lowly Orioles to lose ground on the Angels and miss a chance to gain on the Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays, after Monday’s disastrous double-header sweep against the Yankees — and six straight losses — are toast. The Twins dropped two of three to the Indians to fall 6 1/2 behind the Tigers.

In the NL, the Marlins and Braves don’t appear capable of making a run at the Phillies. The Rockies and Giants are hanging close to the Dodgers, but one gets the feeling that L.A. can hold their divisional lessers at arm’s length the rest of the way. And the Cubs? Well, at least they won’t have to blame the curse on a playoff collapse.

Only the wild card races are tight, with the Rangers standings 2 1/2 behind the Red Sox, and the Giants two behind the Rockies. But even those two races aren’t as up-for-grabs as they may seem.

Over at http://www.coolstandings.com, the math goes like this: The eight projected playoff teams (the six division leaders plus the two wild card leaders) have between a 70.5 percent chance (the Rockies) and a 99.9 percent chance (the AL East-leading Yankees) of going to the postseason, while among the pursuers, only the Giants (at 27.4 percent) have a better than one-in-four chance.

It doesn’t bode well for an exciting September, but I guess you never know. Someone might have a run in them yet. Let’s hope so.


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Red Sox ask Hanley Ramirez to report 15-20 pounds lighter next spring

Hanley Ramirez
The Associated Press
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Hanley Ramirez was a complete failure in left field this season in Boston and he batted just .249/.291/.426 while appearing in only 105 games. Ben Cherington, the man that signed him to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract, is no longer with the Red Sox. It’s time for some tough love …

Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who just inked a two-year extension to return as John Farrell’s bench coach, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Sunday that Hanley has been asked to drop 15-20 pounds over the offseason. There have been similar conversations with Boston’s other free agent failure, Pablo Sandoval.

Ramirez is expected to start at first base for the Red Sox in 2016.

Video: Clayton Kershaw notches his 300th strikeout

Clayton Kershaw
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres needing six strikeouts to become the first pitcher in 13 years to whiff 300 batters in a single season.

He did it within the first nine batters of the game, whiffing Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes, Austin Hedges, and Travis Jankowski once each and Melvin Upton Jr. on two different occasions.

Here was the milestone matchup against Upton Jr. with two outs in the top of the third …

The last pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They did so as teammates on the 2002 Diamondbacks.

Kershaw is lined up to face the Mets in Game 1 of the NLDS.