The 2012 Major League Baseball postseason got underway Friday as the new Wild Card round made its debut. Both 2nd Wild Card winners rose to the occasion, as the defending champion Cardinals defeated the Braves in Atlanta among some umpire controversy and the Orioles took care of business in Texas against the 2-time defending AL Champion Rangers. The second chapter of the postseason gets underway Saturday evening as the Oakland Athletics head into Detroit to take on the Tigers, while the San Francisco Giants host the Cincinnati Reds. All eight remaining teams will be in action Sunday, as the Cardinals continue the quest to defend their title against the Washington Nationals, who boasted the best record in baseball. Meanwhile the Yankees will take on division rival Baltimore in a playoff series for the first time since 1997.
As September arrives so does pennant race baseball. With just over one month to play, 15 of the 30 major league clubs are within 2.5 games of a playoff spot. We are setting up for a September to remember prior to the upcoming glory of October baseball.
2012 MLB Power Rankings – September Pennant Chase Edition:
Looking like a lock for playoff baseball:
1.) Washington Nationals – (80-52) During the course of the 2012 season the Nats have been among baseballs best and most consistent squads. The lineup is loaded with very good players and the pitching staff has more depth than the average fan realizes. The big question remains: Can they win a title if they shutdown Stephen Strasburg? I still wouldn’t count them out.
2.) Cincinnati Reds – (81-53) Talk about a team with very few weaknesses. The Reds remain the only team in baseball that has kept their rotation in tact. A solid rotation, along with a potentially lethal bullpen in October could spell trouble for opponents as the season moves along. The funny thing is I’m just mentioning the offense which the Reds are best known for. A healthy Joey Votto will only add to the dynamic lineup that includes solid veterans and upcoming rookies.
3.) Texas Rangers – (78-54) The solid core from the past two American League Championships remain in Hamilton, Cruz, Andrus, Young Kinsler and Beltre. The questions this year will be whether or not the pitching staff can provide enough. The bullpen looks sharp but season ending injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz could potentially spell trouble.
Baseball season gets underway as the Oakland Athletics host the Seattle Mariners from the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The two game series gets underway bright and early Wednesday morning at 6:10 am EST / 3:10 am PST. The series will wrap on Thursday March 29th at 5:10 EST / 2:1o PST. Die hard Mariners & Athletics fans will be forced to sacrifice a night of sleep should they wish to catch the games live on the west coast. The opening series in Japan may not be convenient for fans in America but it does present a unique opportunity for the rabid baseball fans in Japan.
Some people have a problem with America’s game beginning overseas, specifically with it taking place in such an inconvenient hours. I personally have no issues with it as it serves as a great promotion for the game of baseball in Japan. The Japanese people are passionate about the sport and will fill the house with the now rare opportunity to watch their fellow country man Ichiro Suzuki who left Japan for America in 2001. He had played his way into being a future MLB Hall of Famer.
Ichiro Suzuki – Career Statistics
MLB.com – Series Preview
Brandon McCarthy - Athletics Opening Day Starter
Felix Hernandez - Mariners Opening Day Starter
Check back in the next week as the, “Sports With Balls” crew makes their 2012 MLB picks in the 2012 MLB Season Preview. Until then…….Play Ball!!!
-With the opening series in the books here are some links to help you catch up.
3/28 Seattle 3, Oakland 1 (11 innings) Boxscore – Recap
3/29 Oakland 4, Seattle 1 Boxscore – Recap
Update: 7/31/11 at 1:20 a.m.
Reports indicate that this trade between Oakland & Boston has fallen through prior to official paper word being filed.
There is still a chance things could be rectified prior to Sunday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
Pending a physical, which is not a given he passes, Rich Harden has been traded to the Red Sox for Lars Anderson and a player to be named. He can be an addition to their rotation or a long man in the bullpen.
Rich Harden – After bouncing around from Chicago and Texas, Harden was back where he started his career in Oakland. In five starts this year he is 2-1 with 4.30 era.
Lars Anderson – He has been stuck in their minor league system for 4 years and is once again blocked by Adrian Gonzalez. In a 2010 season where the Sox dealt with a ton of injuries, he had 35 at-bats hitting .200 with 4 runs batted in.