Entering Saturday's baseball games, the remaining playoff races are still claustrophobic with each team having two to three games left to play. Let's take a look at the playoff picture as it currently stands:
Entering their final three games, the Rays and Yankees were tied for the lead. Since the Rays were matched up against the Royals, they appeared to have the upper hand. On Friday night, though, they were shut out 7-0 by none other than Bruce Chen, who recorded his first shutout of his 13-year career.
The Yankees' series opener against the Red Sox, meanwhile, was rained out. which forces a doubleheader on Saturday. As such, they currently hold an 0.5-game lead in the East. Both the Yankees and Rays are headed to the postseason, but the home-field advantage for both teams is large enough for this race to be significant.
N.L. West/Wild Card
Things went as well as they could for the Padres on Friday night. They beat the Giants, thereby hacking their N.L. West lead down to two games, and the Braves lost to the Phillies, knocking their Wild Card lead to a single game.
The best-case scenario for the Padres: they win two more against the Giants, giving them the N.L. West title due to their superior head-to-head record. (If this were to happen, and the Braves lost two more, the Giants would win the Wild Card outright. If the Braves were to go 1-1, it would force a Giants-Braves one-game playoff.)
Now, if the Padres win only one of their two remaining games, they need to hope for the Braves to drop their final two against the Phillies (this would force a one-game Padres-Braves playoff, which would be played in San Diego).
Today at 4:10 Eastern, the Padres will send Tim Stauffer (1.89 ERA) against the Giants' Barry Zito (4.08). Meanwhile, at 4:10 Eastern in Atlanta, we'll see a match-up between the Braves' Tommy Hanson (3.41) and the Phillies' Vance Worley (1.89 ERA in 8 innings).
The Padres' odds of reaching the playoffs are still somewhat slim, but thanks to Friday night's results, the Giants and Braves can't feel comfortable just yet.