With the AL wild card all knotted up and still just one game separating the Braves and Cardinals in the NL, here’s what we have to look forward to on Tuesday night.
AL wild card
Boston – Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50 ERA)
Baltimore – Zach Britton (11-10, 4.44 ERA)
New York – Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.02 ERA)
Tampa Bay – Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90 ERA)
The Red Sox and Rays are all tied after Boston lost 6-3 and Tampa Bay won 5-2 tonight.
Bedard makes his second start since returning from knee and hip problems; he allowed four runs — one earned — in 2 2/3 innings against Baltimore last week. The Red Sox get to face a rookie they’ve handled very well so far; Britton is 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA and a 3/4 K/BB ratio in 6 2/3 innings in his two starts against the club. He has a 5.14 ERA in five September starts.
The Rays also have a favorable matchup, it would seem. Colon is winless since July and has a 6.64 ERA in four starts this month. He’s also 0-3 with a 6.60 ERA in three starts against Baltimore this year. Hellickson has a 2.28 ERA this month and a 2.50 ERA since the All-Star break. Plus, he faced the Yankees last week and allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.
NL wild card
Philadelphia – Roy Oswalt (8-10, 3.86 ERA)
Atlanta – Derek Lowe (9-16, 4.92 ERA)
St. Louis – Jake Westbrook (12-9, 4.48 ERA)
Houston – Henry Sosa (3-5, 4.68 ERA)
Ideally, the Braves would wrap this one up Tuesday so that they wouldn’t have to send ace Tim Hudson to the mound on Wednesday. For it to happen, Lowe will have to snap a skid that has seen him lose four straight. His quality start last week against the Marlins (3 ER in 6 1/3 IP) was his first since Aug. 31. Oswalt was shaky in his last start, giving up six runs in 7 2/3 innings against the Nationals. He’ll likely only throw five or six innings in this one. Oswalt is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Braves this year, while Lowe is 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA in four starts versus the Phillies.
Of course, with a one-game lead, the Braves would need a win and a Cardinals loss to clinch. Westbrook will have something to say about that. He’s beaten the Astros both times he’s faced them this year, and he has a 2.61 ERA in four starts this month. Sosa will be making his first start against St. Louis since debuting last month. A product of the Jeff Keppinger deal, he’s turned in quality starts five of his last six times out. However, he’s also given up five homers in his last three starts.