Thursday, August 18, 2005

Seven teams with only one dream

I was trying to be clever with title, but I guess it falls short of greatness. The Cubs have now won 5 of their last 7 against the Cardinals and Astros. That was a must after the terrible losing streak that preceded this play. I know many people think I have fallen off the cliff to think the Cubs still have a chance to make the playoffs, but that being said we still really do have a chance. It may be a small one, but if I give up on the season then it means football season is really here. While I like football, there is no reason to think I have to focus on it yet. Well, except for my job covering the Smackover Buckaroos (yes the town is named Smackover) for the El Dorado News-Times.
Carlos Zambrano has given us at least two more days of Hope as the Cubs held on in wild fashion to win 4-2 on Wednesday. The Cubs are now 5.5 games back with five teams ahead of them and one team tied with them.
The Cubs have a series with the Colorado Rockies and again it is a must to win 2-of-3 , but a sweep would be lovely.
Time to look at the teams involved in the Chase for the Wild Card.

1st Place, Houston Astros (64-56), Philadelphia Phillies (64-56)

The Astros fall into a tie for the Wild Card a 2-4 record against the Cubs and Pirates over the last six games. The Astros have the Brewers (4), Padres (3), Dodgers (3) and Reds (3) coming up in the next two weeks. This is a very interesting stretch for the Astros who are struggling at the wrong time.

I am sure being a Philly fan is a lot like being a Cub fan this year. They have played really well at times and real bad. They are a hard team to figure out. Ryan Howard has really started to shine at first base as Jim Thome has been injured. The Phillies just took split two games with the Nationals heading into today's double header. The starting pitching has been up and down all year with the exception of Brett Myers, who has been the best starter Philly starter this year. The Phillies have Washington (2), Pittsburgh (3), San Francisco (3), Arizona (3) and New York (3) coming up on the schedule.
2nd Place Washington Nationals (63-56) .5 games back

The Nationals have been the story of the year without a doubt. In Montreal they were left for dead and a move to the Potomic has them in the heat of the Wild Card Chase. A sweep of the double header today would put them in first place again. If there was one team I would think that might fade it would be the Nats because of the offense. So far that has not stopped them. The Nationals have tough games with the Phillies (2), Mets (3), Reds (3), Cardinals (3) and Braves (4) coming up before the end of the Month.

3rd place Florida Marlins (62-57) 1.5 games back

If I had to pick a team that was going to win the Wild Card right now it would be the Marlins. Their three top starters are just plain sick. Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett have been leading the charge for the past few weeks. Willis just threw another complete game and in any other year he would be the Cy Young front runner. The thing that makes the Marlins dangerous is their offense is really starting to play well. Miquel Cabrera is having his wonderful season. They have still have Juan Pierre, Mike Lowell and Carlos Delgado. The Marlins have upcoming games with the Padres (1), Dodgers (4), Cubs (3) and Cardinals (3).

4th Place New York Mets (61-58) 2.5 games back

Now we have a team that I am not too high on and I really can't tell you why. The Mets have been in the hunt all year and then they lost their starting right fielder (Mike Cameron) last week. They signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran during the off season and for the most park they have worked out. Martinez has been better than expected. Kris Benson has had a breakout year, maybe because his wife might has said it is that or she sleeps with the entire team. Jae Seo has been great in his return the rotation. The Mets finally relized that Kaz Matsui was not the answer and Jose Reyes has shined for the Mets. I still think the Mets will fall out of the race.
They have games upcoming against Pittsburgh (1), Washington (3), Arizona (4), San Francisco (3) and Philadelphia (3).

5th Place Milwaukee Brewers (59-62), Chicago Cubs (59-62) 5.5 games back

Who knew the Brewers would still be in the race and have a chance for .500 this late in the year? Well, regardless they are here to stay. They have quality starting pitching in Ben Sheets and Chris Capuano. They are trying have their first winning season since 1992. Carlos Lee has been exactly what they needed and things look good now for the Brew Crew. With all the talent in they have it looks like there might be a new force in the NL Central. As for this year, Milwaukee has a chance. They have a nice offense and their pitching is solid, but will all they put it together. They have thier chance staring with a four-game series against Houston today. The rest of the schedule has them playing the Marlins (3), Braves (3) and Pirates (2).
That leave the Chicago Cubs. I have already said my peace about the Cubs, just like every other Cub Blog Army member. I know the Dusty Baker is terrible. I know we never take a walk. I know we probably have no chance to make the playoffs and if we did we would lose quickly. That being said, we still have hope. The next two weeks are huge for the Cubs. The one thing I do like about the Wild Card is three teams are from the NL East and three are from the NL Central. That means a lot of teams playing each other. The have Colorado (3), Atlanta (3), Florida (3) and Los Angeles (3).
That is about it for now. In two weeks time a lot of things can change. If the Cubs go 9-3 during this time then we might get back in this thing. At worst they have to go 8-4. Winning each series is crucial at this point when you are fifth in a six team race.
Remember Hope is a Good Thing.