15. Washington Nationals – The Nationals are a better team than they showed for much of the season, but don’t buy into the way they played in September, which featured a lot of games against their terrible division.
That’s not to say Twins’ starter Nick Blackburn didn’t have a good outing, either. The sale jerseys had fits against Blackburn’s sinker, driving the ball into the ground all day. However, a 2-2 high changeup to Thome in the seventh inning was the mistake that cost the Twins the division, as Thome nailed it over 460 feet to the centerfield concourse to give the sale jerseys a lead they would not relinquish.
Arizona is 6-4 in its last 10 games and just a half a game behind San francisco in the NL West. The Diamondbacks continue to be one of the biggest surprises this season with a record of 39-32. They are 17-17 on the road and 22-15 at home.
The question is where do the White Sox turn? What does the future hold? The truth is there really is no light at the end of the tunnel. Unless the team can collect talent via trades and clean house, the South Side struggles could be around for awhile.
Two encouraging offensive showings immediately carried over to Monday’s game. Gordon Beckham got going early with a two-run line drive homer, his third of the season, to left in the second inning off Angels starter Ervin Santana. Carlos Quentin continued the barrage with his second double of the night and fifteenth of the season in the fifth. This one would score Alexei Ramirez and make the score 4-0. Manager Mike Scioscia left Santana in for one too many batters as Ramirez would strike again planting one in the seats on a first pitch fastball making the score 5-0 in the seventh. The Angels call to the pen would only benefit the Sox as Quentin hit a three-run homer to dead center on a hanging breaker making the score 8-0, which is where it would stay.
Peavy claims to be at 60-70 percent heading into spring training, so his velocity is likely to be lower than usual as his arm & shoulder regain strength. If he’s throwing 94 mph on his fastball by the end of spring, maybe there’s a chance he returns sooner than early May. But if his fastball is barely scraping 90 mph or is losing velocity early into outings, it’ll be a longer road back.
National League Cy Young Award – Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies. Halladay’s competition may very well come from any one of his three teammates in the Phillies starting rotation. Not that I need to defend this pick, but Halladay has had a sub-3.00 ERA the last three years, while winning at least 20 games in two of those seasons. Other than his teammates (Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels), Giants’ Tim Lincecum will be Halladay’s only other threat for the award.
Choo, who reached the .300 mark in batting with a 1-for-3 game on Saturday, sat out the game on Sunday. He becomes the only Tribe hitter since 1901 to bat .300, hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in back-to-back seasons. The only other Indians to turn that feat but not in back-to-back seasons were Roberto Alomar in 1999 and 2001 and Joe Carter in 1986.