Torii Hunter's former team was elminated by the Yankees. Will his current team suffer the same fate?

Torii Hunter's former team was elminated by the Yankees. Will his current team suffer the same fate?

For the Angels, the path is a certain and familiar one as they take on the New York Yankees, who broke out the brooms last night with their 4-1 win over the Minnesota Twins.  For the Dodgers it could be just the same, as they watch the Philadelphia Phillies try and wrapup their  series with the Rockies tonight.

The Angels went 5-5 against the Yankees this season in a series of games that neither team was ever really out of, with the exception of the three-game sweep by LA at home just before the All-Star Break.  This has certainly been a trend for the Angels, who own the Yankees when they meet in Anaheim.  This will be a matchup between two teams that are as different in style in terms of play on the field as Hollywood and the South Bronx are in terms of glamor. The Angels will look to get it done the same way they always have against Yankee pitching by finding ways to get on base, and then running wild.  The Yankees know this, but with a defensive liability in at catcher in Jorge Posada, it’s hard to see them slowing down the Angels’ game plan.  The Yankees, on the other hand, will be looking for more of the same from Alex Rodriguez, who powered the Bronx Bombers past Minnesota, shedding his “Can’t get it done in October” moniker for the time being.  This should be a much more heated and contested series than these two teams had in the ALDS, and I fully expect it to go 6 or 7 games.

Assuming that Cliff Lee will pitch the way he did in Game 1 against Colorado, then we can safely say that the Phillies will advance to the NLCS to take on the Dodgers.  Of course, the last time I made this kind of assumption, I said the Twins were done and not making  the playoffs and look what happened there, but this time I’m confident that the Champs will prevail and advance to play Game 1 in Dodger Stadium.  The Dodgers desperately need to avoid getting into a high-scoring affair with the Phillies’ offense, because this plays right into what Philadelphia wants, as it makes it a battle to see which team’s pitching staff blinks first.  The Phillies should have a decided advantage in power and starting pitching, and have to feel like they have the best team remaining in the NL right now with the Cardinals being eliminated.  I struggle to see the Dodgers getting past Philly, but then again, I didn’t see them getting past St. Louis, either.

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If The Freak can get San Francisco into the Playoffs, he could wreak havoc in October.

If "The Freak" can get San Francisco into the Playoffs, he could wreak havoc in October.

In a September in which playoff races are looking pretty dead and all but settled, there is one race between two very different teams that gives us a reason to keep paying attention.

Currently, barring a miraculous comeback, the San Francisco Giants are about to take down the Colorado Rockies and cut their deficit in the Wild Card to 2 1/2 games.  So really the only relevant question that remains in either league is which one of these teams is going to take the last playoff spot and play in October (although since the regular season ends in October this year, I guess that’s not a great question).

The Giants have what every good postseason team needs to have when it counts in its excellent starting pitching with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and the resurgent Barry Zito.  If the Giants make it into the playoffs this is certainly a team to look out for because of how difficult its going to be to beat them in a short series.  Unfortunately for San Francisco, their great pitching is offset by an offense that at times can be almost completely non-existent.  Pablo Sandoval has been a huge part of the Giants’ offense throughout the year, and if guys like Aaron Rowand and Bengie Molina can provide some support, then they might just have a chance to make a deep playoff run, but it’ll take an offensive output that we have yet to see on a consistent basis from this squad.

The Rockies, on the other hand, are looking to bring back “Rocktober” from the ’07 season, when they went on a tear up until they were swept in the

One of the most consistent hitters of the past decade, Todd Helton would love one more shot at postseason glory

One of the most consistent hitters of the past decade, Todd Helton would love one more shot at postseason glory

World Series by the Boston Red Sox.  What they have going for them is the same thing that every Colorado team always has going for it in their offense, which can score in bunches.  Their lineup has a great balance of speed, in players like Dexter Fowler, average in Todd Helton, and power in basically anyone who has ever played in Coors Field.  All that makes them pretty dangerous and got them back into the NL West race with the Dodgers up until this recent slump.  Again though, the Rockies pitching staff isn’t exactly one of the most spectacular in the league, although it is vastly improved from where it has been at times in the past.  Ubaldo Jimenez is their ace, and with Jason Marquis and I guess Jorge De La Rosa as the next two in their rotation.  Jimenez got shelled by the Giants tonight, and that’s not a good sign for Colorado. 

So for now, there really is only one show in town if you are an MLB fan and the NL Wild Card race is it.  Looking at the remainder of the schedule, it could become even more interesting if both teams can get hot and put some pressure on Los Angeles, but for now we’ll assume that the Dodgers will avoid the collapse and win the NL West.  Meanwhile, somewhere in the bowels of his personal offices in Milwaukee or the MLB main offices in New York, Bud Selig is looking for ways to make the last three weeks of the regular season go faster.  Playoff baseball could not come soon enough this year.