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An Exciting Ending to the MLB Now Set
If you are a vivid baseball fan and you were disappointed that there was no drama at the end of the 2010 season, then you have to be looking forward to the last day of the regular season in the MLB. Although the late season drama is to die for, it truly marks perhaps the two greatest season meltdowns by a team in MLB history. Both the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves both looked like they were on their way to the 2011 postseason. For whatever reasons, both teams have had a September to forget and the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays are both in position to stick the nail in the coffin.
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With just one game to go, the Boston Red Sox are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League wildcard spot. Both the Red Sox and Rays are 91-70 on the year. If both teams win or lose, they will play a playoff game against one another to decide the wildcard winner.
It has been a terrible month for the Boston Red Sox. During the month of September, their record stands at 7-19. They had a chance to wrap up the division against Tampa Bay earlier this month, but the Rays took 6 out of the 7 games they played. They had another chance two days ago to gain a game on them but they lost a lead and the game against the worst team in baseball. At the beginning of September, the Red Sox had a 9 game lead over Tampa Bay and now they are tied heading into the last game of the season.
So why has this team collapsed? Two words, starting pitching. The stats will amaze you. Let us begin. Starting pitchers Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Tim Wakefield are to blame, it is that simple. In their last 17 starts, they have only won 3 times. Beckett has lost 3 of his last 4 starts, Lester has lost 4 of his last 5 starts, and Wakefield has lost 7 of his last 8 starts. Before their meltdown, these were 3 of the top pitchers in the league. During the month of September, their earned runs average is as follows: Beckett 5.48, Lester 5.96, and Wakefield 5.25.
The offense has been consistent enough to win most of these games. The bullpen has been off as well, but the blame is on the starting rotation. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games. They play Baltimore tomorrow and it will be up to John Lester to win the game. Tampa Bay closes out the season against the New York Yankees.
The Atlanta Braves are in the exact same position as the Boston Red Sox are. You can say they are mere shadows of one another. Unlike Boston, most of their problems consist of injuries and offensive run support. Atlanta entered September with a 7 game lead in the wildcard chase against the St. Louis Cardinals. Due to a 9-17 mark in September, the Braves and Cardinals enter the season finale tied for the National league wildcard spot. For Atlanta, they will send their ace Tim Hudson to the mound. If anyone can beat the hot Phillies, it would be Hudson. If both teams tie or win, a playoff game will be played to determine the winner.
The Braves entered September with a 81-55 mark and now they are 88-72. Atlanta has had issues with injuries all season long and they had their biggest two in the final stretch of the season. Starting pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson have missed the last month. Tommy hanson has been out for a few months now. Both pitchers were the top Brave pitchers this season combining for a 25-13 record. They have been well missed, especially this last month. Atlanta has depended on the starting pitching all season long because their offensive ranks are among the worse in baseball. They failed to get a big bat during the trade deadline and they are paying for it now.
Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe helped Atlanta reach the postseason last year, but Hudson and Lowe have struggled this season, especially Derek Lowe. Lowe has lost 6 of his last 7 starts for the Braves and his September earned run average is 8.24. Atlanta has to be able to pull out a win tomorrow no matter what. St. Louis is hot and if there is a playoff, St. Louis will probably win.
Atlanta finishes their last game at home against Philadelphia and St. Louis plays Baltimore. Atlanta has had the tougher schedule down the stretch and St. Louis has had a fairly easy schedule on paper. Philadelphia has the best record in the MLB and Baltimore has the worst.