This is pretty much all you need to know:
Tampa Bay: 88-71
St. Louis: 88-71
Such wonderful symmetry, both in record and in dynamic. A faltering would-be giant above the guys everyone wrote off in August. A three-game sprint to Wednesday evening or — if things break just right — one-game playoffs on Thursday. It’s not quite the 1993 NL West or the 1987 AL East, but ’tis enough. ‘Twill serve.
For Boston it’s three games in Camden Yards with Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard and Jon Lester facing Tommy Hunter, Zach Britton and AlfredoSimon. For Tampa Bay it’s three at home against the Yankees with James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and David Price facing Hector Noesi, Bartolo Colon and, well, Joe Girardi will cross that bridge when he comes to it. Given Boston’s recent struggles with Baltimore and the Yankees not exactly trotting out the finest portion of their rotation, let’s call it a push. A push, however, favors the Red Sox as that one game is pretty big.
Atlanta has the unenviable task of hosting Philly, with Randall Delgado, Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson taking on Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Meanwhile the Cardinals take on the Astros with Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and Chris Carpenter facing Wandy Rodriguez, Henry Sosa and Brett Myers. Here the schedule and the matchups clearly favor the Cardinals.
Photo finish anyone?