As the season winds down and the stakes increase, the Stew will take time each Friday to look at the key series and the storylines contained within each of them.
1. Twins at Rays
At one point on Thursday night, the Twins looked like they were on track for a weekend-long drowning/drubbing at the hands of Evan and His Rays. But then Joe and his Minnesotans scored five runs in the top of the ninth to gain a game on the White Sox, who were busy making sure they'd be some dead bodies at the funeral for Yankee Stadium this weekend. Was it the type of win that can turn around a team's fortunes? We'll find out over the next three games and no doubt that Sox of every color — both Red and White — will be watching closely.
2. Phillies at Marlins
Heading into games that will undoubtedly be played in front of dozens of fans, the Phillies are leading the Mets by half-a-game in the NL East standings. But lest they only be focused on what New York is doing against Atlanta, the Fightins' must also pay attention to the task at hand. Not only do the Marlins own a 9-6 record against Philadelphia, they also have won eight in a row and still have some silly designs on shocking the world. (They're 5.5 games behind Philly with 10 to play. Pffft.)
3. Brewers at Reds
Think the Reds will be a welcome elixir for the Brewers after Thursday's debacle? The magic 8-ball says maybe. On one hand, they're 7-8 against Cincinnati this season. On the other, they're 4-2 at the Great American Ballpark. They'll need a sweep on the riverbanks, plus become Milwaukee's biggest backers of the Braves since '57 if they want to make up the Mets' 1.5-game lead in the wild card. Best guess here is that it's not gonna happen.
Pitching matchup to watch: C.C. Sabathia (9-1, 1.82) makes what could be his second-to-last start in Brewers blue on
Sunday Saturday against Bronson Arroyo (15-10, 4.57).
4. Cardinals at Cubs
Three years ago, the Cardinals clinched the NL Central while they were at Wrigley Field. However, a rain delay and having to wait for an out-of-town result meant that no bubbly was popped within the Friendly Confines. Now, with the roles reversed and the Cubs magic number at two, the exact same booze-free zone could be in effect this afternoon. If the Cubs win today, the Cards and fans will be long gone by the time the Brewers can possibly lose in Cincinnati.
5. Orioles at Yankees
Not sure if you've heard, but this is your last chance to watch the Pinstripes in Yankee Stadium. Nah, nothing but pride is at stake, but enjoy the roar for Derek Jeter when he comes to bat for the last time at the House that Ruth Built. No matter how much you dislike the Yankees, that's still a pretty special thing to savor.
Pitching matchup to watch: N/A