Thursday, September 1, 2011

The MLB on TSC: September Is Here!

As the baseball season moves closer to the checkered flag, it's time to put the Dog Days of August behind us and begin the final lap of the season. For those teams who are still (somewhat) in pennant races, it's time to shape up or ship out. It's now or never for those teams that are still mathematically within striking distance.

Here are some MLB on TSC tidbits as we leave August and enter the September stretch run--

THEY MIGHT (STILL) BE GIANTS?

Getty Images
The first (shape up or ship out) team are the defending world champion San Francisco Giants. Based on their recent moves, it looks like the Giants are starting to dump fuel because their plane is about to crash. The Giants recently gave the boot to veterans Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada, which is never a good sign. GM Brian Sabean calls it-- damage control. So unless the Arizona Diamondbacks pull off a 2010 San Diego Padres and fall flat on their faces in September, it looks like the defending world champions are going fishing this October.

THE DETROIT TIGERS AND THEIR KNACK FOR HAVING PERFECT CLOSERS

AP Photos
It looks like the Detroit Tigers have a stranglehold on the AL Central. The Tigers are a comfortable 5.5 games ahead of the pesky Cleveland Indians and 6 games ahead of the never-say-die Chicago White Sox. Last night, Tigers closer Jose Valverde recorded his 40th save of the year, making him 40 for 40 on the season. Didn't former Tigers closer Willie Hernandez win the 1984 AL MVP and the AL Cy Young Award because he went 32 for 32 that year? I don't expect Valverde to get the same kind of love as Hernandez from voters because, after all, Hernandez pitched in an era when saves meant something. And the eccentric Valverde gets criticized for recording "sloppy" saves, whatever that means. All I know is, he's 40 for 40.

ROOKIES AND 40 SAVES? WHAT DA?!

Getty Images
Speaking of SAVES-- Congrats to the Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel for setting a major-league record with 41 saves as a rookie. Kimbrel broke the old record of 40 rookie saves set by the Texas Rangers Neftali Feliz just last season. I don't know if back-to-back 40-save seasons by rookies help the credibility of the SAVE or not? Not! Sorry Valverde, no MVP and Cy Young Award for you.

THE HUMAN TORCH KEEPS LIGHTING IT UP!

Getty Images & Marvel Comics
How about the year the Human Torch Cliff Lee is quietly having? Lee (15-7, 2.59 ERA) just finished the month of August with a 5-0 record and a 0.45 ERA. If we may remember, Lee finished the month of June with a 5-0 record and a 0.21 ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lee is the first pitcher in major-league history to have two months in one season with at least five wins, no losses and an ERA under 0.50.

In fact, there have only been two other occasions where a pitcher has had 2 months of at least 5 wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00-- Walter Johnson in 1913 (April: 5-0, 0.24 ERA; July 6-0, 0.81 ERA) and Bob Gibson in 1968 (6-0, 0.50 ERA in both June and July).

That's how dominant Mr. Lee has been and the scary part is, he isn't even the ace of his staff. Ouch!

WILL THERE STILL BE ANGELS COME PLAYOFF MORNING?

Getty Images
The Los Angeles Angels (73-63) deserve a lot of PROPS for still being involved in the only legitimate pennant race, at least according to me. The pesky Angels refuse to let the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers (77-60) breathe easily and could quite possibly steal the playoff spot if the Rangers let their guard down.

Oh sorry, Anaheim. I meant the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. So why didn't anybody think of this idea in 1958 and called the other team the Los Angeles Dodgers of Brooklyn? Just saying.


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