The Padres are going to be under heavy pressure now. The final series of the season for San Diego is a three game set on the road against the team they're chasing, the San Francisco Giants, and since the Giants' magic number is 2 now, a loss by the Padres would clinch it for San Fran. What does that mean for the Friars? It means sweep or go home, and after that, they may even need to win a fourth game in a row to stay in it.
In the event that the Padres do sweep the Giants, their next worry will depend on the Atlanta Braves' record. If at the end of the season, the Braves record is lower than that of the Padres and Giants (which is very likely as Atlanta is facing the National League East Division Champion Philadelphia Phillies), it won't be a concern, as both teams would make the playoffs--the Padres as NL West Champions due to having won the season series against the Giants, and San Francisco as the Wild Card. Should Atlanta have the same record or higher than the tied clubs, however, the Pads and Giants would play a fourth game--a tiebreaker--at Petco Park in San Diego, since the Padres have home field advantage in a tiebreaker game against the Giants due to the season series win. In addition, if the three clubs all have the same record, and the Padres lost the West Division tiebreaker, to make the playoffs, they would have to win a 164th game--a Wild Card tiebreaker--against the Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta.
Of course, none of that will be necessary if the Padres don't sweep, and that will be a difficult task by itself.Who will win the East?
While not as important as the NL West race where neither of the teams are assured of a berth, the AL East race is still one to watch, as the Rays' loss yesterday ties themselves with New York with three games left for each team. Who has the advantage? The simple answer is the Rays. Tampa Bay's last three games are in Kaufman Memorial Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, where they will face the worst team in the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals. Meanwhile, last year's World Series champions face a team that nearly swept the Yanks last week, and would love to win their final series against their hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox. Plus, all the Rays need to do to win the division is tie with the Yankees, and since the Rays already won the season series with the Yankees, Tampa Bay would be awarded the top seed.
Unless the Twins pull ahead.
The AL Central champs are but a game behind Tampa Bay and New York for best record in the American League, and if the Rays and Yanks don't watch out, Ron Gardenhire's Minnesota Twins may end up as the top seed in the AL.Managerial Mayhem
Yet another team announced today that they would be replacing their manager--the New York Mets. Jerry Manuel's Mets finished in fourth place again this year, and thus, it will no longer be Jerry Manuel's Mets.
Of course, this all adds to what may be a very interesting situation in the offseason, as around ten teams will be looking for managers, including my Chicago Cubs, due to Lou Piniella's retirement. One of the prime candidates on every team's list is Ryne Sandberg. The Hall of Fame second baseman is currently the manager of the Cubs AAA affiliate, the Iowa Cubs, and has led every team he has managed in his four years as a minor league manager to a first place finish. Sandberg has also won the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year award for his first season with the Iowa Cubs, and from the look of it, may manage in the MLB next season. However, before any team can talk to Sandberg about a big-league job, they've got to get permission from the Chicago Cubs, who have Sandberg and current interim manager Mike Quade (referred to by me as Darth Quade for his very scary face) on the tops of their list.