“Justin, the cot’s yours” said Pat, “Stay as long as you want.”
“Many thanks friend Stripsey” For I’ve been sorely troubled.”
Pat & the others left. Yolanda trailing the rest caught the The Shining Knight eye as he sat sword in hand. “Tis good to be among friends…” he began then abruptly stopped “The door!” he cried pointing at the wall.
Wildcat gasped. “You see the door?” she exclaimed!
“See it, I’d know it anywhere” said Justin. He rose & boldly strode though.
As it closed behind him she heard a familiar voice “Welcome Sir Knight, you’ve come to confess?”
“For your penance Wildcat you shall pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet…”, said Father Anastasius.
Yolanda was taken aback, one chaplet for killing a man?
“…and offer the merits of your next three Eucharists for Brainwave.”
“But father”, she asked confused. “I killed him, he’s dead. How can that do him any good?”
Anastasius smiled a smile of faith hope & love: “Perhaps, but daughter, can it really be that after the Lord in his love provided you the Stranger to bring you here & me the extra decades needed to hear your confession, you still doubt God’s capacity for mercy?”
The monastic cell door creaked as the white gloved hand opened it. Yolanda saw a hooded figure kneeling in prayer before an image of the Divine Mercy, As they entered a voice ancient & weak seeped from his cowl.
“Has the angel of death finally remembered me? I am ready”
“I bring not death friend Anastasius” replied the stranger, “but a penitent seeking absolution.”
The priest turned smiling melting away years, his eyes alight: “It has been many decades since I’ve confessed a hero.” Yolanda watched awestruck as new life seemed to gush into the holy venerable face. “Come child.”
Captain Dietrich could not understand his unease. His mission was a complete success.
Every attempt by Troy Moffitt & their men to escape during their trip to the Reich was foiled and as left the camp commandant’s office he could see their faces fall as the Colonel informed them of his unmatched record of success while the senior POW officer looked on resigned.
He had the oddest feeling that behind that frown a mighty laugh was suppressed. “Nonsense” he told himself as the staff car exited Stalag 13 beginning his long trek back to the desert. He was just tired.
If there has been on thing there has not been a shortage of these days it’s news but thanks to Covid , CCP Wuhan Virus there has been a shortage of places to play Pinball.
If not said virus for the last 5 days I would be at the 6th Pintastic New England this year scheduled to be in Boxborough rather than Sturbridge but alas it was not to be however yesterday morning my youngest informed me of a newly opened pinball arcade in Manchester Vermont which is about a 2 1/4 hour drive from where I live. So as we both had vacation days already taken, after mass we jumped in the car and took the long trek through ski country (God knows how people drive on those mountain roads in the winte) and foliage country to Pastime Pinball in Manchester Vermont. Where we were met by the owner who was kind enough to give us the tour…
…which had to be briefly interupted as a pair of customers came in. Given that you have a choice of a pay one price to play till close or a half hour sampler (buy the day pass because you KNOW you aren’t going to be satisfied with 30 minutes) you don’t want to keep people waiting.
However once the customers had their lanyards and were off playing the tour resumed.
It’s a very nice place with a good selection of 60 games starting from the very 1st flipper game ever made to the Munsters which came out last year. But for me as they have the following six games
Theater of Magic
Lord of the Rings
Wizard of Oz
They pretty much have the best there is.
One of the most interesting things they have is an old EM game with the clear cabinet that people can see how the workings work. I filmed my son playing it:
We got in about 4 hours of gameplay and played most of the games there. They regularly disinfected the games and had signs asking people to space themselves with a two game distance and they enforce the mask rule. It was a great time.
Alas due to Covid the hours are limited
In a case of really bad timing they had litterarrly opened just before the virus hit and with Pintastic cancelled they lost a prime chance to promote their new business.
So if you are a pinball fan who didn’t get a chance to hit Pintastic NE this year take in the Get yourself up to Manchester VT on a Friday Saturday and Sunday and indulge your Pinball fix at Pastime Pinball.
Hopefully by the time the foilage and ski seasons come they’ll be open daily keep an eye on their site for developments.
Outside food is not allowed in but the dogs and drinks are good, however if you decide you want something more substantial when your done, might I suggest the Zoey’s Double Hex right down the road.
It’s a local family restaurant and it seemed like the servers and host knew every person who came in. The food was absolutely perfect.
It you need a day, away from news, away from political stuff and the current insanity and would like to support a small local business that has brought great pinball to this neck of the wood, take a leisurely drive up to Manchester VT and scratch that pinball itch you didn’t know you had.
This week we looking at the National League Division B in the All Time Any Time Great Teams League All individual stats were current at the time of writing.
All franchise are currently full if you are interested in picking up a team if one becomes available or to join the expanded Futility league when it starts up again leave a comment to this post.
1985 St. Louis Cardinals 48-36 1st place
The Cardinals remain the only team in the majors who have been in 1st place since day one and don’t seem inclined to let anyone take it from them. Can they rule the 2nd half as they have the 1st?
Heroes: You can find Cardinals all over the league leader boards of the league Vince Coleman’s 78 stolen bases is more than every other team in the majors except Cincinnati Willie McGee leads in batting & Triples while on the mound John Tudor is tops in wins and Innings pitched.
Zeros: Some leader boards are worse than others and Jeff Lahti’s five blown saves (against 8 converted) leads the NL. Kurt Kepshire’s 7.67 ERA the WHIP 2.06 and 51 walks vs 39K’s won’t impress anyone. The Catchers spot has been adaquote behind the plate but at it Tom Nieto ( .208 0 HR 12 RBI ) and Darryl Porter ( .192 5 HR 30 RBI ) haven’t delivered.
Wild Cards: St. Louis is one of two teams in the NL that play on turf and their 26-13 record on the artificial surface reflects that skill. But more important has been their 22-8 record in the division that has kept them on top.
Coming Attractions: The Cards end short road tip in Chicago vs the tough Division C leading 2016 Cubs before heading home to host the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, the 1986 NY Mets and the 1997 Florida Marlins.
Injury Report: Third Baseman Terry Pendelton will miss the entire series against the Cubs but once he’s back the cards will be back to full strength.
1957 Milwaukee Braves 43-41 5 GB 2nd place
Milwaukee has kept pace with the Cardinals going 7-3 over the last 10 games and currently in a tie for the last wild card spot. Can they make a move and finally knock StL off the top of the heap?
Heroes: Hank Aaron is 3rd in batting 1st in hist and 3rd in RBI’s & 9th in HR in the league. Wes Covington may not be on the leader boards but his triple crown numbers (.306 avg 16 HR 47 RBI) are trouble for opposing pitchers. On the mound Don McMahon is the surest way to a Milwaukee win with 11 saves in 12 chances.
Zeros:Juan Pizarro (4-4 6.57 ERA .319 avg against 2.29 WHIP and 0-2 inn save chances) and Eddie Johnson (2-3 9.53 ERA .351 avg against 2.18 WHIP 2.18 & 1-2 in save chances) have been the anti McMahon this season. Frank Torre .219 avg is no better than Del Crandall but while Crandall has 11 HR 35 RBI & 3 triples Torre’s .3 HR 12, RBI & 11 walks mean that the table isn’t getting set.
Wild Cards: Milwaukee’s OPS is 2nd in the league behind Brooklyn in both slugging and OPS. The latter is really something when you consider that they are 2nd to last in OBP. They also don’t like turf very much with a .167 winning percentage on artificial surfaces.
Coming Attractions: It’s 3 at home vs the 2005 Houston Astros and three more against their wild card rival 1962 Giants before heading off to a short two city trip, first to Cincy to play the 1975 Reds and then to the Nations Capital for a shot at the 2019 Nationals.
Injury Report: All hands are all deck for the Braves
1997 Florida Marlins 42-42 3rd 6 GB
Florida is at .500 within striking distance of 1st and just a game away from a wild card stop. But .500 isn’t going to be enough to get to the post season. Will they rise, will they fall or will they stay where they are?
Heroes: Moises Alou 2nd in OBP, OPS and Batting (regularly trading places with McGee for 1st. Teammate Gary Sheffield leads the league with his .442 OPB and is 3rd in walks. 1st in hist and 3rd in RBI’s & 9th in HR in the league. Kevin Brown’s 8-8 with a 4.57 might not impress but he’s been an innings eater with 136 (5th) and has not been a Strikeout machine 4th in the league (135) & 5th in K’s rate (8.93).
Zeros:Rob Nen may lead the team with 8 saves but is also 7th in the league with 4 blown. that .297 avg against & 5.31 ERA likely has something to do with it. At the plate Devon White (.222 6 HR 27 RBI) Jim Eisenreich (.226 1 HR 23 RBI 18 runs) and Luis Castillo (.231 0 HR 17 RBI 25 Runs) are all failing to produce
Wild Cards: There’s no place like home for Florida who are a full 10 games over .500 when playing in the Sunshine state. But the real wild card on this team is reliever Felix Heredia. His 6.18 ERA is the worst on the team but put him in a save situation and he’s a perfect 5 saves in five chances.
Coming Attractions: Florida gets a chance to pad that home record with four series at home welcoming the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers the 1986 New York Mets and the 2013 Arizona Cardinals before hitting the road again.
Injury Report: With Luis Castillo off the DL Florida finds itself back at full strength for their 12 game homestand.
2019 Washington Nationals 34-50 4th place 14 GB
After threatening to reach .500 the nationals have gone 2-8 to sink to the bottom of Division B. Can they match the 2nd half that put them in this great teams league against tough competition?
Heroes: Patrick Corbin remains a strikeout machine leading the league with 151 & 2nd in k’s per 9 innings to go with a 7-4 record 4 Nationals Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto Trea Turner and Matt Adams are in double digits in HR and while Howie Kendrick is one shy but his 100 hits 54 RBI & team leading .309 avg makes up for it.
Zeros:Max Scherzer is still 3-8 with a 5.44 ERA and a .304 avg against, but might be on this list for the last time. Those ERA and avg against figures are the best he’s posted since opening week. He’s 2-1 in his last 3 decision has struck out 9 or more in his last 5 and leads the league in k’s per 9 innings and that ERA and avg against. Unfortunately that can’t be said for Anibal Sanchez his is 2-8 with a 6.46 ERA in 18 starts Or reliever Daniel Hudson who in 48 appearances is 6-8 with 3 blown saves in 4 chances.
Wild Cards: Despite their record this teams is dangerous. Their 98 HR is only one behind Milwaukee good for 4th in the league as is their slugging pct .425 (also 4th) and their pitchers have stuck out 732 batters 2nd in the majors (3 of the top 4 stops in K’s per 9 innings are held by Nationals starters) but their ERA of 5.05 is dead last and the 88 HR they’ve given up is also 4th in the league and their WHIP of 1.47 3rd. However until they learn to hit right handed pitching (14-40 vs righties) they aren’t going anywhere.
Coming Attractions: It’s the 1962 San Francisco Giants at home followed by the 1975 Cincinnati Reds before a quick trip to Arizona for 3 vs the 2013 Diamondbacks, then back home for series against the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the 2016 Chicago Cubs
Injury Report:Danial Hudson will miss the series vs the giants but should be back before the end of the series against the reds.
Starting this week the updates of the various Dynasty Leagues that I run will be one league (AL or NL) at a time due to the futility league completing their season. This week Division B in the All Time Any Time Great Teams League. American League. All individual stats were current at the time of writing.
All franchise are currently full if you are interested in picking up a team if one becomes available or to join the expanded Futility league when it starts up again leave a comment to this post.
Texas Rangers 47-28 1st
When last we left the Rangers they had lost four of seven and asked if their rally was ending. With the team now almost 20 games over .500 I think it’s safe to say they intend to stay.
Heroes: Nelson Cruz leads the league in both batting .361 and slugging .625 and as you might Guess OBP oddly this is despite not making the top ten in either 2B or 3B & only 7th in HR (17) but 51 Runs & 66 RBI’s sets and clears the Texas table. Josh Hamilton (.310 15 HR 51 Runs scored) & Vladimer Guerrero (.317 12 HR 65 RBI) are doing their part to set and clear the table as well.
Zeroes:Matt Treanor has not only been unimpressive at the bat (.199 4 HR 14 RBI in 171 ab) but has allowed 26 of 29 runners who have tried to steal to get away with it. Meanwhile while Tommy Hunter’s record and ERA have improved his ERA is still 6.50 has still can’t muster an avg of 5 innings from his 14 starts likely due to the 23 HR given up, more than a 1/3 of the 67 Texas has allowed.
Wild Cards: Texas shines at night a full 20 games over .500 vs a losing record in day games. Texas’ owes a lot of their success to Division C where they are 19-5 while holding only a .500 record vs division opponents.
Coming attractions: The 1998 Oakland A’s and the 2013 Boston Red Sox finish up the current homestand then it’s off on the road for a trip to Detroit vs the 1968 Tigers followed by a stop in DC to take on the 1924 Senators.
Injury Report: All are whole and ready to go in Texas
1954 Cleveland Indians 41-37 7 GB 2nd place.
The Indians remain in second place where they were before but find themselves five games farther back and holding the 2nd rather than the 1st wild card spot. Will slow and steady win the race or will the tribe find themselves left behind?
Heroes: Larry Doby continues to pound the ball leading the league in RBI’s (80) 5th in HR (20) 4th in Slugging (.584) ads the league in both batting .361 and slugging .625 while hitting a more than respectable .308. Bobby Alvia .335 is 4th in the league his 62 runs 3rd and and his 112 hits 2nd. 4 e. Bob Lemon (11-4 2.18 ERA 1.09 WHIP) & Mike Garcia (8-7 3.03 ERA 1st in HR per 9 inn 0.30) lead a spectacular starting rotation.
Zeroes:Don Mossi despite 8 saves in 11 chances ERA of 8.08 & .301 avg against is a disaster waiting to happen. On most teams Early Wynn’s 5.32 ERA & 7-8 record with a .275 avg against would be no big deal but on Cleveland it is. Wally Westlake’s .182 avg .280 OBP 6 HR & 29 RBI’s is bad but his .942 fielding percentage with 8 errors in right, is worse.
Wild Cards: Only Baltimore has a lower ERA in the AL than the Indians and their great rotation leads the majors in complete games (29) It’s a good thing too because their 11 saves is 2nd worst in the league and with 8 blown in 19 chances is near the bottom.
Coming Attractions: Cleveland finishes a road trump in DC vs the 1924 Washington Senators before heading home for 3 each vs the 2015 Kansas City Royals, , the 2005 Chicago White Sox the 1993 Toronto Blue jays and the 1970 Baltimore Orioles.
Injury Report: The Indians are back to full strength again.
2013 Boston Red Sox 35-43 13 1/2 games back 3rd place
The good news for the Boston Red Sox is that for the 1st time in a while they are not at the bottom of the division albeit by only a half game. The bad news is instead of six games below .500 & 8 games back they’re 8 games below .500 & 13 1/2 games back. The Rangers went from the bottom so the RedSox, particularly once back to full strength can too, but clock is running.
Heroes: Daniel Nava leads the AL with a .429 OBP and his .332 batting avg is tied for 5th. David Ortiz (.318 18 HR 60RBI’s ) has found his stroke Closers Koji Uehara (1.84 ERA 5-7 in save chances 0.65 WHIP) and Craig Breslow (3.02 ERA 5-6 in saves 1.20 WHIP) are getting the job done, when they get to them that is.
Zeros:Jon Lester (4-8 5.63 ERA .310 avg .297 avg against ) isn’t doing the job to start but Matt Thornton 6.31 ERA, .310 avg against 2.05 WHIP) , Junichi Tazawa (6.45 ERA .294 avg against ) and Andrew Bailey 8.53 ERA .291 avg against 1.97 WHIP) aren’t getting the team to the closers. Will Middlebrooks & Mike Napoli are both hitting the ball far (10 HR each) but batting .198 (Middlebrooks) & .214 (Napoli).
Wild Cards: Boston’s team ERA of 4.94 is dead last in the AL and the 2nd worst in the majors. They also don’t seem to be able to handle daylight (6-13) or left handed pitchers (3-9)
Coming Attractions: It’s three games in Texas vs the 1st place 2010 Rangers then back home for series vs the 2002 Anaheim Angels , the 2009 NY Yankees and the 1998 Baltimore Orioles.
Injury Report: Time heals all wounds and pitchers Andrew Miller and Clay Buchholtz will be back in time for the homestand. Stephen Drew however will not be back until the Sox head back on the road
1968 Detroit Tigers 36-45 14 GB 4th Place
Detroit’s freefall has continued all the way to the bottom of the standings from the top where they began. With another full half to the season what comes down but what goes down can also go back up and they have 81 games to do it with. Can they?
Heroes: Willie Horton (26 HR) & Norm Cash (20 HR) lead the AL with a .429 OBP and his .332 batting avg is tied for 5th. Danny McLain is 5th in the AL in wins (9) and 3rd in innings pitched (143 2/3 ) 2nd in strikeouts (127) and walks per 9 innings (1.88) Mickey Lolich is right behind him in strikeouts (118) and 1st in the k’s per 9 innings (8.70)
Zeros: Earl Wilson’s troubles continue. His record is now 3-7 with a .285 avg against & 6.42 ERA remains among the worst of Detroit’s starters. Joe Sparma ((2-7) 1.78 WHIP 5.81 ERA .318 avg against) is the bottom fo the barrel. At the plate Don Wert has reached the Mendoza line at .200 with a .244 OBP. is bad news. Ray Oyler is down to .152 and consequently isn’t getting much playing time. Dick McAuliffe however is getting plenty but is only managing .206.
Wild Cards: Thanks to Cash, Horton and Jim Northrup (11 HR) the Tigers are 2nd in the league in HR behind the surging yanks however their .240 avg & .308 OBP are 2nd from the bottom in the AL. Their 4.84 is 3rd from the floor and no team in the majors throws out a smaller percentage of players trying to steal 094%.
Coming Attractions: The Tigers finish a long home stand with 3 vs the 1st place 2010 Texas Rangers, the 2002 Anaheim Angles and the 2009 New York Yankees before hitting the road again for stops in Oakland (1998 A’s) and Boston (2013 Redsox).
Injury Report: The tigers are back to full strength the question is can Al Kaline who has made two Trips to the DL already this season stay off it during the 2nd half?
The latest in our series of write-ups of the various leagues I am running. If you wish to inquire about future openings (all current spots are filled) contact me via the Dynasty system or leave a request in comments.
This weekend the All Futility 100 loss league West divisions. These results and standings were all current at the time of this writing
American League West
2008 Seattle Mariners 86-65 1st place
With three games to go and a two game lead Seattle has control of their own destiny. Will they be able to hold off the final late surge?
Heroes: Jose Lopez in addition to leading the league in hits & doubles is 4th in batting. Ichrio Suzuki is 3rd in runs and stolen bases and is top ten in the league in hits & triples with 9 OF assists thrown in. Seattle Closer Brandon Morrow is 3rd is saves (25) but more importantly has only blown 5 in 30 chances which makes all the difference.
Zeros: If Starter Miguel Batista had managed better than a 6.26 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP in 21 starts Seattle would already be resting starters for the playoffs. The same goes for Carlos Silva who with 30 starts is just under .500 thanks to a 5.58 ERA a .312 avg against plus almost 50 more hits given up than innings pitched
Wild Cards: There is no better illustration of the difference between getting good defense & run support and not than the contrast between starters Jarrod Washburn & Felix Hernandez both have a .260 avg against but Washburn is 13-7 despite a 4.63 ERA while Hernandez leads the league with a 2.96 ERA but is 10-14 with a full dozen unearned runs scored off him vs only 2 vs Washburn.
Coming Attractions. Seattle heads home to finish their season vs the 1982 Minnesota Twins. If they can win sweep the twins it’s a clinch no matter what.
Injury Report:Erik Bedard who has been out since July will not play again this season but if Seattle hangs on will be recovered in time for the playoffs.
1973 Texas Rangers 83-66 2nd place 2 GB
The Texas comeback from the bottom of the standings to within 2 games (and only one behind in the loss column) with 5 to play is one of the great stories of the season.
Heroes: Jeff Burroughs & Bill Sudakis are 1 & 3 in HR in the AL and in a 4 way tie for the RBI lead going into the final four games. Meanwhile the starting pitching duo of Jim Bibby & Jim Merritt are in a 4 way tie for the lead in wins & are sitting at 2-3 in League ERA. Bibby is also 1st in Avg against while Merritt is 2nd in WHIP.
Zeros:Jim Mason’s .212 avg with 0 HR & 18 RBI in over 200 ab isn’t impressive but if you want to know why Texas is still 2nd look no further than starter David Clyde (6-11 6.16 ERA ) in 25 starts and Charlie Hudson whose 6-4 record and 3.70 ERA in 43 appearance (4 starts) look good but six blown saves vs 7 converted saves is the difference between being 2 behind in the loss column and 0.
Wild Card: Texas has feasted off of AL East teams a full 20 games over .500 against them but they have not been so successful against left handed pitchers against whom their record is just below .500.
Coming Attractions: Texas Season is going to come down to their final two home games vs the 2005 Kansas City Royals and then a trip to Tampa Bay to finish their season with 3 games against the big bats of the 2002 Devil Rays.
Injury Report: Texas makes its dash with nobody on the DL but with a pitching staff desperately in need of a rest particularly Sonny Siebert.
1982 Minnesota Twins 79-72 3rd place 7 GB ELIMINATED
When last we left the Twins they were battling Seattle neck and neck, however a late 4-6 run has been just enough to put them five to go a single game too far back.
Heroes: There may be recriminations in Minnesota over their finish but Kent Hrbek Certainly did his part .343 (3rd) with 36 HR (6th) and 128 RBI’s (2nd) plus top 7 in Triples, Hits, Runs OBP, Slugging and OPS. On the Mound Robert Castillo is 1st in WHIP, tied for the league lead in wins 6th in ERA 3rd in Innings pitched 5th in strikeouts and 2nd in best avg against (.242) And Ron Davis’ 28 Saves vs 3 blows is pretty solid.
Zeros:Frank Viola may have a great future but his 7-11 record with a .325 avg against and 5.45 ERA is a big reason why Minnesota is eliminated today. It also doesn’t help that Terry Felton (5 saves in 9 chances) and Jeff Little (4 saves in 8 chances) couldn’t do the job when Davis wasn’t available.
Wild Cards: Nobody closed out games like Minnesota. They were 1st in the majors in saves while tied for the fewest blown saves in the AL. Unfortunately it’s a little tough to get to that save situation when you lead the league in both walks and Home Runs allowed.
Coming Attractions: Minnesota might be out of it but with their season finishing in Seattle against the 1st place 2008 Mariners they hold the destiny of the division in their hands.
2005 Kansas City Royals 76-73 4th place 8 GB ELIMINATED
Kansas City is playing for pride. One win secures at least a .500 record and they are but a single game behind Minnesota in the loss column. Can they manage to get out of the cellar in their final five games?
Heroes:David DeJesusis currently tied for the AL lead in doubles 4th in triples 10th in OBP & 7th in walks. Matt Stairs is 2nd in OBP 4th in Slugging and only injuries kept him out of bigger categories and Mike Sweeny’s .309 avg 33 HR & 122 RBI’s are nothing to sneeze at. Andy Sisco in 51 games out of the pen went 8-2 with 3 saves in as many chances & a 2.85 ERA
Zeros: Practically the entire Royals starting rotation can quality with only one starter managing an ERA under 5 but the worst offenders of the lot have to be Runelvys Hernandez (3-15 6.72 ERA .321 avg against & over 50 more hits than innings in 32 starts) and Jose Lima (8-12 7.03 ERA .315 avg against in 26 starts)
Wild Card: It certainly wasn’t offense that put Kansas City in last. They led the league in Runs, doubles, RBI’s OBP and OPS and led the majors in Avg and Slugging. However while they hit .290 as a team they also allowed their opponent to hit .290 against and converted the fewest saves in the AL while being near the bottom of almost every AL pitching category.
Coming Attractions: Kansas City’s offense will have a chance to decide how the division finishes as they play a pair in Texas against the 1973 Rangers before closing out their season against the AL East champion Chicago White Sox.
Injury report: The good news for KC is all of their potent bats are available for the close of the season, the good news for their opponents is so is all their pitching.
National League West
2012 Houston Astros 77-74 1st place
Houston won their two biggest games of the season sweeping Arizona for a pair giving them a 2 game lead with three to play. But with both San Diego and Arizona still alive with 3 to go they’ll have to go all out to guarantee a playdate against the 100 win Nationals.
Heroes: You won’t find a lot of Astros on the various leader boards but one is Wilson Lopezwhose 16 saves are 2nd in the league. Another is Scott Moore whose .327 avg is 2nd in the league But Justin Maxwell’s 32 HR and steady pitching from folks like starter Jordan Lyles (14-8 1 sv 3.93 ERA 1.32 WHIP) and reliever Fernando Rodriguez (10-4 3.85 ERA in relief) played their part.
Zeros: If Xavier Cedeno (52 games 1 start 4-3 2 saves in 8 chances 5.58 ERA) .292 avg vs) Fernando Abad (33 games 6 starts 3-8 1 save in 4 chances 6.64 ERA .323 avg vs) & Rhiner Cruz (43 games 3 starts 3-5 0 saves in 2 chances .7.76 ERA .327 avg vs) had been even slightly better the NL West would be sown up today.
Wild Cards: Despite a -58 run differential (No team with a record better than 25 games under .500 has worse) and the worst fielding percentage in the majors (.977) the 2nd most blown saves in the NL and more of their batters striking on than on any other team they are two wins from a division title. Perhaps being 2nd in HR & RBI, in the NL have something to do with it.
Coming Attractions: It all comes down to a three games series in Milwaukee vs the 2002 Brewers. Win two and Houston punches their ticket to a series vs the Nationals.
Injury Report: Fortunately for Houston all three zeros on their list Fernando Abad, Rhiner Cruz and Xavier Cedeno are out till next year along with Buck Travis are out for the season and playoffs although there is a Tiny chance that Cedeno could be well enough to play before the end of the World Series. Francisco Cordero won’t be available vs Milwaukee but if Houston makes the Playoffs he might be able to be activated late in the Washington series if another Astro is injured.
2004 Arizona Diamondbacks 75-76 2nd 2 GB
Arizona managed to climb all the way from last to a tie for first with five games to go only to lose 2 straight to Houston. Can they pull off one final miracle in their last series?
Heroes: The question isn’t if Randy Johnson will win the NL CY Young. With the exception of Home Runs per 9 Innings (4th in majors 2nd in NL) and Innings Pitched (1st in NL 2nd in Majors likely to be 1st soon) he leads leads the majors in every non relieving pitching Category and by a lot. His 1.88 ERA is a full run better than the #2 his 335 K’s is 85 better than the 2nd best and he’s hte only pitcher with a WHIP under 1.00 (0.80) the question is does he win MVP too? Luis Gonzalez Brandon Webb and reliever Mike Koplove did their part but Johnson is the best in the majors period!
Zeros: To say that reliever Randy Choate (58 gm 3-10 1 sv in 3 chances) and starter Edgar Gonzalez (12 starts in 13 games 3-7 6.36 ERA .301 avg against 11 HR in 58 innings) have been bad is true but Casey Fossum line of 29 starts, .337 avg against 8.38 ERA 1.82 WHIP and a 5-13 record takes the cake. If they had collectively been 2 games better over their 41 starts and 59 relief appearances the Diamondbacks would control their own destiny.
Wild Card: If Arizona makes the playoffs Randy Johnson is the wildest card there is capable of beating any team at any time. Arizona as been a doubles machine leading the majors and it’s a good thing too because their 13 steal attempts (10 sb) are the fewest in the NL. On the mound they lead the majors in ERA (3.97) WHIP (1.33) avg against (.246) K’s (1259) fewest Runs & Earned runs (674/600) fewest hits (1282) and lead the NL in completed games. One guess why.
Coming Attractions: It comes down to a 3 game series vs the 1973 San Diego Padres. at home. Johnson will pitch once so it will come down to if the remainder of the staff can come through. Two wins forces Houston to win one. 3 forces them to win two
Injury Report:Danny Bautista will not be available for the SD series but if the team makes the playoff he’ll be recovered sufficiently to make the roster.
1973 San Diego Padres 74-77 3rd place 3 GB
It’s a credit to the relevancy of this Padres team that with a single series to play they are still in the playoff hunt but they not only need Houston to be swept they will need to beat Randy Johnson. Can they do it?
Heroes:Willie McCovery still has an excellent batters eye leading the league in walks and OBP. while hitting a solid .298 with 25 HR & 99 RBI. Young Dave Winfield has been a liability in the field (10 OF errors) & doesn’t have McCovey’s patience at the plate (31 BB vs 139K’s) but with 25 HR & 105 RBI he’ll do. On the Mound Dan Spillner has been the best of a good rotation 11-8 with a 3.78 ERA and a save in his only chance.
Zeros: Of all the teams I’ve written this is the hardest to pick out zeros because while many have performed below avg, no regulars stats have been horrible, but it’s fair to say that while their numbers aren’t horrible the inability of Padres relievers to convert saves like Bill Laxton (7 of 12 ) Lowell Palmer (4 of 8) and Mike Corkins (6 of 10) are a big reason why SD is a game away from elimination.
Wild Cards: No team has a more consistent set of starters 1-4. Spillner, Randy Jones (.261 avg 4.52 ERA) Dave Freisleben 4.72 ERA, and Bill Grief (4.91 ERA) have consistently kept SD in games. If only their manager’s health has been as consistent as their rotation.
Coming Attractions: It all comes down to the final three games against the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks. One loss (or one Houston win) and they’re done.
Injury Report: San Diego goes into their final Do or die series with all hands healthy and on deck.
2002 Milwaukee Brewers 61-90 4th place 16 GB Eliminated
It’s been a disappointing season for Milwaukee which started strong but now could finish with the worst record in the majors. However they will play the deciding series for their division.
Heroes:Eric Young has been a runs machine scoring 104 while stealing 56 bases (3rd in the league) Despite 200 k’s Jose Hernandez 32 HR (4th in the league) & 94 runs makes him feared but not as feared as Rickie Sexton whose 25 HR 53 doubles (2nd in league) 112 RBI’s and 90 runs scored means he’s a danger both at the plate and when he’s on base.
Zeros:Ruben Quevedo’s 3-18 record in 34 starts is well earned with a 7.14 ERA a .291 avg against and a WHIP of 1.67. Nick Neugebauer 2-11 record .279 avg against 6.84 ERA & 1.86 ERA is only better because he’s had just 18 starts to do it. At the plate Ronnie Belliard at .218 2 HR 24 RBI & only 23 runs & a .281 OBP inspires little fear for a 3rd baseman.
Wild Cards: Milwaukee has earned their place in the league. They have the worst batting avg in the majors and the fewest hits which is trouble. Perhaps if they were on base more they’d be a tad more careful as they also lead the majors in being caught stealing. However in the field they don’t make such mistakes their fielding percentage of .985 leads the NL but it’s not enough to overcome NL’s worst ERA (5.07).
Coming Attractions: Milwaukee final three games at home will not only decide if they finish with the worst record in the majors but will also decide the fate of the NL West as they finish against the 2012 Houston Astros who need w wins to clinch without help.
Injury Report: Geoff Jenkins, Valerio de los Santos and Mike Matthews will all miss the final series of the season. Slugger Matt Stairs just might be healthy in time to play in the last game of the year