When the sun rose yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates found themselves only a half game back of the NL Central lead and the best record in baseball. With a double header against the division leading St. Louis Cardinals on their plate, they could take sole possession of the Central if they could sweep the double header.
Game 1 of the double header was a close one as both teams scored a run each in the opening 3 innings. From then on a pitching duel would take place between Pittsburgh ace, AJ Burnett, and St. Louis Cardinal pitcher, Lance Lynn. Burnett went 7 strong for the Bucs. He only gave up 3 hits and he struck out 9. Lynn went 6 innings, only allowed 3 hits and struck out 7. The winning run was scored in the 11th when Alex Presley hit a walk-off single off of Cards pitcher Kevin Siegrist. This win was big for the Pirates as it gave them a half game lead over St. Louis in the division.
Let’s just say that Game 2 of the double header wasn’t as close as the first. The Cards gave up 6 runs off 11 hits, while the Bucs shut St. Louis down only giving up 3 hits and 0 earned runs. Andrew McCutchen went 2-5 in the game with 2 RBI. Jody Mercer, Gaby Sanchez, and Tony Sanchez all had an RBI each. With this win the Pirates extended their NL Central lead to 1.5 games and now have the best record in the MLB. Can they keep it up for the rest of the season? Can the Pirates finally make the playoffs for the first time since 1992? We will all have to just wait and see.
Two days ago, in a walk off win against the AL East Leading Tampa Bay Rays, Derek Jeter returned to the Yankees lineup. In his first at-bat since going back on the DL with a Quad Strain, he blasted a homer to right center and sent the New York crowd into a frenzy. Jeter went 2-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored in the game. Another familiar face also had a great game, Alfonso Soriano. In his 3rd game back in pinstripes Soriano went 4-5. He hit a homerun and had 3 RBI in the game. Oh yeah, he also hit a walkoff single to give the Yankees a 6-5 win. Both of these players gave the Yankees lineup a huge boost. The Captain energized the team by giving them some much needed power by hitting the first homerun by a right handed batter since June 25. Soriano hit with runners in scoring position and was able to give the Yankees the lead in clutch situations. Having Soriano and Jeter in the lineup mixes things up a bit. It gives the lineup depth and also a couple of very good right handed batters that can do some major damage. In my opinion, getting these two players back will prove to be a major turning point in the Yankees season. I believe they will be the spark that the Bomber’s offense needs and needs desperatley. As of now the Yankees are 7.5 games back of the AL East Division lead and 2.5 games back of the Wild Card spot. If these two players can provide some offense and if Curtis Granderson can come back and perform the Yankees still have a chance to get that Wild Card spot or even win the division. I guess we will have to see how it all works out.
AL Division Winners:
AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
AL West: Texas Rangers
AL Wild Card Winners:
Los Angeles Angels
NL Division Winners:
NL East: Atlanta Braves
NL Central: Pittsburgh Pirates
NL West: San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Card Winners:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Brooklyn? New York? Boston? Does anyone really know who will win the Atlantic Division this season? As of right now, I would say that the only thing separating these teams in the standings at the end of the season would be a couple of games. This division became alot more interesting when the Nets decided to resign Deron Williams, and trade for all-star Joe Johnson. They are also still making a push to get Dwight Howard in a trade with the Magic. The Knicks have reportedly traded for Marcus Camby, who is old, but can definitely still play. They also have signed Jason Kidd who can run the pick and roll with Stoudemire, and they have one of the best one on one players in Carmelo Anthony. The Celtics may have lost Ray Allen but have way more depth then they did last season. They drafted big men Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger, and have signed veteran shooting guard Jason Terry. They also have their best on ball defender, Avery Bradley, coming back from a shoulder injury.
When you look at all these teams, they are all pretty stacked, but all have some flaws. The Nets may not have chemistry just like the Heat early in the 2011 season. The Knicks seem like they can’t play any type of defense, and the Celtics are old. The winner of this division will just be who can handle their flaws the best, and I think that will be the Celtics. Even though their old they have veteran players who know who how to step up in big situations, they also have arguably the best point guard in the league in Rajon Rondo. They have young legs coming off the bench to help out the old guys. Oh yeah, they have also won the division for 5 straight years, so they are getting used to it.. The Celtics are my pick to pull through and win the Atlantic, but this may change, its still way to early to really know. There could be injuries,trades, etc, which would leave the door wide open for the Knicks and the Nets.