Previewing Some Key Weekend Games

Justin Verlander - Photo Credit - Keith Allison
Justin Verlander – Photo Credit – Keith Allison

 

The season sure does fly by. Seems like just yesterday we were in Spring Training and every single team was a contender.

Now, on June 20th, the rust from spring training is gone and we now know who the contenders really are and who is just simply not good enough.

It’s not SO early that you could call any first place team a fraud — but it’s also still early enough that you cannot count any second, third, and in some cases,  fourth place teams out of the race.

For instance,  the NL East  from top to bottom is separated by only 5 games and the AL East (excluding the Tampa Bay Rays) is separated by only 6 1/2 games.

Let’s take a look at some of this weekend’s key series’ as some teams try to remain hot while others trying to make a run.

Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals

The Phillies have won 8 out of their last 10 games, including the first game of this four-game set to pull themselves within 4 games of first place in the NL East. Cody Asche will be activated for this series.

The Cardinals were red hot earlier this month, winning 8 of 9 before dropping their last two games, one against the New York Mets and last night against the Phils. They’re currently 4 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the Central. Pitcher Michael Wacha‘s start will be skipped for precautionary reasons (fatigue).

Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals

The Braves continued their dominance over the Nats with a 3-0 win last night in the first game of this four-game series. Since the start of 2013, they are 19-6 against their division rivals.

Despite their loss to the Braves on Friday, they still hold a 1/2 game lead in the East — Mainly because they have played well against other teams. They won 8 of 9 before losing 4 in a row, but since the Braves have struggled in June, going just 6-10 this month,  the Nats have been able to gain ground.

Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees have gained a lot of ground in the AL East,  and they are welcoming in the O’s fresh off of a sweep of the first place Toronto Blue Jays to pull into a game and a half of first place.

The O’s also picked up a half a game on Thursday — even though they were off. They have been able to stay afloat, with just a 10-7 record this month. Fortunately for them and the rest of the division, the Blue Jays have fallen back down to earth.

Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians

The Tigers have been brutal since that 27-12 start to the season. Now, sitting at 37-32 and coming off a series against the red hot Kansas City Royals where they lost 3 of 4 at home, they find themselves out of first place for the first time since last season. The good news is they can still right this thing. They are still only a half-game out because they were able to salvage the last game of that KC series.

Note : I’ll be keeping my eye on pitcher Justin Verlander,  who has been just awful this month.  During the month of June, he has a gone 0-3 and I’m not sure which numbers are worse : his 9.16 ERA, the .359 BAA or the 2.04 WHIP.

The Indians are a strange team. They always seem to fly under the radar but they are pretty steady. They’re only 2 1/2 out but sometimes they do have trouble scoring. After that historic game on June 9th (Lonnie Chisenhall mostly) where they scored 17 runs, they have scored more than 3 run only three times.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cincinnati Reds

Luckily for the Blue Jays, they don’t have to go back to the Bronx for a while.  They are coming off of a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees at Yankee stadium — a place they have lost 16 straight games at. Once upon a time, they were the hottest team in the league, winners of 20 of 24. They have since cooled down — losers of 9 of their last 12, but luckily the East is no juggernaut this season so they still hold first place.

The Reds have a higher mountain to climb. They are 7 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central and struggling just to reach .500. They were close to getting over .500 on Thursday but a loss in the final game of a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates derailed that dream for another day. Nonetheless, they Still have won 6 of 8 and look ready to make some noise with Pitcher Mat Latos looking extremely good in his first action back from the DL.

Also : The Texas Rangers take on their division rival Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.

The first place Brewers will take their dynamic offense on the road to Coors Field to take on the struggling and injured Colorado Rockies, who were no-hit by Clayton Kershaw their last time out.

The red hot Royals, — winners of 10 of their last 11 games, welcome in the Seattle Mariners, who are just trying to keep pace in the AL West.

The struggling Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics have three more games to finish in this 4-game series. The A’s won the first game on Thursday night 4-2.

Khristian Peel

Follow me on twitter @KhristianPeel

Khristian Peel

Die-hard Philadelphia fan with a love for everything sports. Baseball isn't just a sport or hobby, it's a lifestyle.

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