If the Rockies' September has soured you on baseball sufficiently enough to have checked out the past week, you are forgiven. You have missed some good baseball though, and today is your chance to jump back into the fray. Today guarantees excitement, for today, for the first time in the 2011 MLB playoffs, a team faces elimination.
Actually...three teams could be ousted by the time you sleep tonight. In a matter of hours, the season could be over for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and.....New York Yankees.
ALDS Game 4 - Texas Rangers @ Tampa Bay Rays, 12 MST, TBS
Colby Lewis outdueled David Price and the Rays squandered golden scoring opportunities late in yesterday's Game 3, forcing the Rays to real off two straight against the reigning AL Champions to remain alive. While starting pitching was supposed to be their strength, Tampa has failed to win both games started by their top two pitchers (Price and James Shields). They will throw rookie Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95, 1.4 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) against the Rangers' lefty Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39, 4.2, 4.0) in today's game. Pick: Rays.
NLDS Game 3 - Philadelphia Phillies @ St. Louis Cardinals, 3 MST, TBS
In the lone non-elimination game of the day, the Cardinals will attempt to put the World Series favorites on the brink of elimination. They'll have Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56, 3.6, 0.9) on the hill, quite the stud for a Game 3, but the Phillies send out Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79, 4.9, 5.4). Matt Holliday is still out with tendinitis in his right middle finger - his bat would have been a valuable weapon against the lefty Hamels. Albert Pujols, who has half of the roster's four home runs off Hamels, is hitting just .174 in 24 PA with a negative IsoD against the Philly starter. Pick: Phillies.
ALDS Game 4 - New York Yankees @ Detroit Tigers, 6:30 MST, TBS
The Yankees don't have much of a rotation past C.C. Sabathia, so it was paramount that the Yankees ace delivered a win in this series. He did not, getting thoroughly outpitched last night by the soon-to-be AL Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander. That means the Yankees will have to win two consecutive games, with Ivan Nova set to face Doug Fister in an fantastic Game 5 matchup at Yankee Stadium. Oh...but the Yankees have to get there first. To do so, they'll have to win tonight behind A.J. Burnett (11-11, 5.15, 1.5, 1.1), who will be countered with Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.75. 2.7, 1.1). Pick: Tigers.
NLDS Game 3 - Milwaukee Brewers @ Arizona Diamondbacks, 7:30 MST, MLB.tv
Arizona has two solid horses in their rotation. Unfortunately, they lost both games Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson started in this series. With their fairy tale season now fully on the brink, Kirk Gibson turns to Josh Collmenter (10-10, 3.38, 2.2, 2.4). The quirky right-hander thrives on deception, which tends to wear down as a team gets longer looks. Milwaukee has indeed faced him twice already, but they managed just 6 hits and didn't score a run in 14 innings. Will they figure him out tonight? The Brewers will march onto the field behind Shawn Marcum (13-7, 3.54, 2.7, 3.3), one of the best pitchers in the league your neighbor has never heard of. Pick: Brewers.