Florida devastated by Nat swarm
The Washington Nationals roared through south Florida like a hurricane this week, tossing aside the vaunted pitcher Josh Beckett as though he were a puny midget. Not having scored in the double digits in nearly four months (May 7, to be exact), the Nationals managed to do so on two consecutive days! Oddly, in all five of their double-digit scoring games this year, the Nationals have scored exactly eleven runs. Credit for the series sweep goes to virtually every member of the team, even Cristian Guzman, who has raised his batting average to a tolerable .217 just in time for season's end. (Ryan Zimmerman's average is exactly .200 higher than that!) The belated offensive onslaught by Nats makes one wish they could have spread around a few of those superfluous runs in the many one-run losses since mid-season. They could have been leading the division! Their series sweep assures the Nats of at least an even .500 record for the season, as they rest for a day in preparation for the season finale series against the Phillies, in the (usually) friendly home confines of RFK Stadium.
The unbalanced scoring in this series may have been more a reflection of embittered strife among the Marlins, who were favored to win the wild card spot just a couple weeks ago. Their pitcher A.J. Burnett was told his services were no longer needed, after he complained about his teammates and manager Jack McKeon, and he told reporters he would consider signing with Washington for next year. Hmm-m-m-m... It is worth noting that the Marlins, as the last place team in the NL East, have a higher winning percentage than the likely "champions" of the NL West, the San Diego Padres. Even though I think the wild card teams need to face additional obstacles in the postseason (e.g., fewer home games), [I also think that any non-wild card team with a higher winning percentage than one of the divisional champions should be entitled to a one-game challenge playoff (at the divisional champion's home field) to qualify for the postseason. No more than two non-wild card challengers would be allowed, since only two slots (the divisional champions) are open. In such a system, theoretically, one division could grab all the postseason slots for that league.]
In the American League, the White Sox can breathe easier now that Cleveland has fallen back in the Central Division race, thanks to Tampa Bay. (Just think, the White Sox almost moved there in 1990!) Bronx Bomber Alex Rodriguez hit his 47th home run of the season (a team record for right-handers), helping the Yankees edge the Orioles, who had just unleashed their recent frustrations (namely, a nine-game losing streak) by trouncing the visiting squad 17-9 yesterday. The Red Sox are looking a bit shaky, losing to Toronto again and falling a game behind the Yankees, but they've always been one of those unpredictable, high-spirited crews, and they might find a way to get back in the groove before it's too late.