There's plenty left to decide in the National League

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And you thought this weekend would be boring.

The Padres are still alive in the National League West. They slugged three homers against Matt Cain en route to a 6-4 victory over the Giants last night. The Friars now sit two games back in the National League West with two left to play.

And don’t forget the Wild Card, either. Because the Phillies crushed the Braves 11-5 last night, the Padres are just one game back there.

Take a look at the upcoming pitching matchups:

Saturday:

Padres vs. Giants

Tim Stauffer (5-5, 1.89 ERA) vs. Barry Zito (9-13, 4.08 ERA)

Phillies vs. Braves

Vance Worley (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.41 ERA)

Sunday:

Padres vs. Giants

Mat Latos (14-9, 2.92 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (12-9, 3.15 ERA)

Phillies vs. Braves

Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.09 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (16-9, 2.76 ERA)

OK, now here are the potential tiebreaker scenarios, courtesy of Dan Manella of MLB.com:

If the Padres take two out of three from the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies:

The Giants would win the National League West and the Padres and Braves would play a one-game playoff Monday at Turner Field.

If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves are swept by the Phillies:

The
Padres would be awarded the National League West since they hold the
head-to-head advantage over the Giants this season. The Giants,
meanwhile, would win the Wild Card.

If the Padres sweep the Giants and the Braves lose two out of three to the Phillies:

Here’s
the fun one. All three teams would finish with identical 91-71 records,
forcing two tiebreaker games. The Giants and Padres would play a
one-game playoff Monday at PETCO Park to determine the winner of the
National League West. The loser of the game would then play the Braves
on Tuesday to decide the Wild Card winner.

Yeah, yeah. If the
Padres lose just one of their remaining two games and the Braves win
one, everything will be decided, but really, what fun is that? Since my
Mets are out of it, I’m rooting for chaos, baby.

Clayton Kershaw’s initial prognosis: 4-6 weeks on the disabled list

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Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.

Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.

Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.

David Price was a complete jackass to Dennis Eckersley

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In late June, Red Sox pitcher David Price confronted Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley during a team flight to Toronto. The circumstances of the argument were not clear at the time and at least one report said that it was a “back and forth,” presumably about some critical comments Eckersley made on the air about Price. We learned a few days after that it was less of a “back and forth” than it was Price merely berating Eckersley.

Now, via this story from Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe, we get the true flavor of the exchange. It does not reflect well on Price or his teammates:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Assuming this account is accurate, Price’s behavior was nothing short of disgraceful. Disgraceful in that Price was too much of a coward to take his issues up with Ecklersley one-on-one. Beyond that, it’s classic bully behavior, with Price waiting until he was surrounded by lackeys to hurl insults in a situation where Eckersley had no opportunity to effectively respond.

But it’s mostly just sad. Sad that David Price is so painfully sensitive that he cannot handle criticism from a man who is, without question, one of the best who has ever played the game. One of the few men who has been in his shoes and stood on that same mound and faced the same sorts of challenges Price has attempted to face. And, it should be noted, faced them with more success in his career than Price has so far.

No one likes criticism, but David Price is at a place in his life where he is, inevitably, going to receive it. And unlike virtually every other person who may offer it to him, Dennis Eckersley knows, quite personally, of what he speaks.

Shame on David Price for acting like a child. Shame on his teammates for backing him up. Shame on John Farrell and the rest of the Red Sox organization for not sitting Price down, explaining that he messed up and encouraging him to apologize. And, of course, if he apologizes now, it’s not because he means it. He’s had a month to reflect. It’s simply because his disgraceful behavior is now all over the pages of the Boston Globe.

What a pathetic display.