After a huge football weekend, there were still some pretty important series going on in Major League Baseball. Ground was both lost and gained in many different spots.
American League East
The Boston Red Sox still remained strong throughout the weekend. As expected, they swept the Baltimore Orioles. They now stand five games behind the Yankees (four in the loss column), who dropped two of three to the Seattle Mariners over the weekend.
It is not time for New York to panic - yet. The Yankees have lost five of their last nine to teams that they really should have put away with ease, while the Sox have continued to cruise.
There is a bit of a silver lining for the Bombers, however, as a win against the Angels tonight OR a Texas Rangers loss would at least give New York a guarunteed playoff berth.
That said, the Yankees would love to take the division, which is something they haven't done since 2006. Their magic number to clinch stands at 9.
American Leauge Central
The Minnesota Twins continue to keep things interesting, taking two of three from the Detroit Tigers this weekend.
The loss of Justin Morneau to injury certainly makes things a bit more challenging, however Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer has picked up the pace, going 7 for 24 this past week with four home runs and 11 runs batted in.
Minnesota finishes up the weekend only three games back of Detroit. And to make things even more exciting, these two will meet again a week from today in Detroit for the first game of a four game series.
Keep an eye on this, because it appears to be far from over.
American League West
Not that anyone in the Angels organization was that concerned, but the Angels took two out of three from the second place Texas Rangers over the weekend.
Texas now stands 7.5 games behind Los Angeles, as the Rangers continue to falter down the stretch.
American League Wild Card
The American Leauge West wasn't the only place where the Rangers lost ground over the weekend.
After Boston's sweep of Baltimore over the weekend, Texas is now eight games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card.
Barring a miracle, it appears that the Texas Ranger season will end at 162 games. However, a great amount of positives can be taken out of this season for the young team. For one, they are just that: young. Players such as Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, and Chris Davis should give Texas fans a great amount of hope for the future.
In addition, the guidance of team president Nolan Ryan has refocused the organizations concentration on aquiring solid, young pitching. This was something sorely lacking on the sub-par Ranger teams of the early to mid 2000's.
The pieces will continue to come together, as I would expect this team to be an absolute powerhouse in another season or two.
National League East
It belongs to the Phillies - enough said.
Philadelphia has been on cruise control for the last month or so. They lead the second place Florida Marlins by eight games.
Right now, manager Charlie Manuel should be concentrating on getting his team ready for the playoffs, particularly his bullpen, which has proven to be the team weakness all season long.
Magic number: 6
National League Central
After taking two of three from the rival Chicago Cubs over the weekend, the Cardinals are in even better shape, division-wise, than the Phillies.
The aquisition of outfielder Matt Holliday in late July has ended up being one of the most ingenius moves of the season.
Since joining St. Louis, Holliday owns a .355 average with a .413 on-base percentage. In addition, he has offered excellent protection for Albert Pujols in the Cardinal lineup.
The performances of pitchers Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter should also have St. Louis fans feeling confident about the NLDS, as they provide an excellent one-two punch.
St. Louis's magic number to take the Central is 4.
National League West
The Colorado Rockies are still hanging around in the West at five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers have stayed consistent since mid-summer, when they began to cool off a bit after Manny Ramirez's return.
While solid pitching has carried them through much of the season, the Los Angeles offense, while not completely overpowering, still poses a threat, as it has the ability to "make things happen."
Late surges by players such as Andre Eithier, Matt Kemp, and James Loney also supply good news for Los Angeles. With strong showings from the young core, the Dodgers may not have to completely rely on Manny's bat for offense through the playoffs, which proved to be one of their downfalls last year after losing the NLCS to Philadelphia.
National League Wild Card
The race still remains close after the weekend, although San Francisco dropped a game in the standings.
The Giants, Marlins, and Braves currently stand 4.5, 5, and 5.5 games behind the Rockies, respectively.
Still, no teams have given up hope. As Braves third baseman Chipper Jones points out, "It's not over until you're mathematically eliminated...we still need to take care of business."