The first division title in the 2013 MLB season was officially clinched last night as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 and wrapped up the NL West. Hanley Ramirez went 4-for-5, including two home runs to lead the way.
Arizona played the role of sore loser when they griped over the fact the Dodger players had celebrated in the pool that’s behind the centerfield fence at Bank One Ballpark.
To put this in perspective, Arizona officials had already asked the Dodgers to keep their celebration off the field and Los Angeles complied. The stadium was mostly empty, so it wasn’t like the LA players were doing it to taunt fans, nor were there reports—at least that I saw—of leaving the place a mess.
Those complaining in Arizona should take an example from their own pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, who tweeted after the game that they simply needed to get to work and ensure they were the ones celebrating in their own pool next season. Wise words for a team that underachieved.
Congratulations to the Dodgers. Of the other four divisions that are realistically finished, we could see a couple more clinchings tonight. Boston’s magic number is one, and Atlanta’s is down to two. Oakland and Detroit won’t be far behind, at three and four respectively.
Now let’s move into our rundown of the races that are genuinely hot…
AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD-CARD RACE
This was a big opportunity moment for the Yankees and they missed it. With Tampa-Texas going head-to-head, along with Cleveland-Kansas City, New York could be assured of making up ground if they just won in Toronto. Instead, last night’s 6-2 loss meant they lost two of three, and the Rangers-Rays split of a four-game series was the worst-case scenario for all challengers, who only need to catch one of the two leaders. Here’s what happened last night…
Texas 8 Tampa Bay 2: Texas unleashes the power. The Rangers hit four home runs, including three third-inning solo shots Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios and made the night easy for Yu Darvish.
Boston 3 Baltimore 1: The Orioles still got two of three in Fenway Park, but John Lackey was brilliant last night, throwing a complete-game two-hitter.
Toronto 6 NY Yanks 2: Trailing 3-1 after six, the Yanks brought in Joba Chamberlain, who promptly put the first three runners on base, never recorded an out and the game got away.
Moving ahead to the weekend series starting tonight, New York still has another opportunity. They host the San Francisco Giants, while you have Baltimore-Tampa duking it out, along with Texas-Kansas City. But no team has an opportunity in front of them like the Cleveland Indians, who host Houston for three games.
Tampa and Texas are currently tied, with Cleveland a half-game back, Baltimore two back, Kansas City three out and New York three and a half off the pace.
NATIONAL LEAGUE: WILD-CARD & CENTRAL
Washington 3 Miami 2: Bryce Harper hit a three-run shot in the first, Gio Gonzalez gave six strong and the bullpen closed out a win, allowing the Nationals to move within five games of idle Cincinnati and keep its longshot comeback bid alive.
Pittsburgh 10 San Diego 1: A bad series for Pittsburgh avoided becoming a disaster as the offense woke up. Neil Walker had four hits, including a home run in a five-run fourth that broke this open. Pittsburgh is six up on Washington and one back in the NL Central.
Colorado 7 St. Louis 6: Very tough loss for the Cardinals. In a 4-4 game, the Cards took the lead in the eighth, but Trevor Rosenthal coughed up a run. St. Louis took a 6-5 lead in the ninth, but Edward Mujica gave it up. The game ended up going 15 innings just for the Cards to lose and see their division lead cut back to a single game. We’ll see if there’s any rollover effect as they get on the plane for Milwaukee this weekend.
Besides Cards-Brewers—the Sunday night game on ESPN that yours truly will likely be attending—we have the continuation of Miami-Washington. If the Nationals sweep this series, they’ll gain ground, because Cincy and Pittsburgh play each other in a knockout battle to see who keeps chasing St. Louis and who has to shift attention to holding off the Nats. The Reds-Pirates also play next weekend in the finals series of the regular season.
Tonight’s MLB Network games are Orioles-Rays and Reds-Pirates, with coverage starting at 7 PM ET and being split across the nation. At 9 PM ET, college football gets into the mix, with Boise State-Fresno State on ESPN rounding out the daily sports agenda. This game is one of several reviewed by TheSportsNotebook’s college football coverage, in a rundown of the Week 4 TV agenda.