Super Saturday on tap in The Show
Giants-Padres, Phils-Braves and Yanks-Sox among key games
The 2010 regular season isn't ready to give way to the 2010 postseason just yet, not with two days remaining on the calendar and two playoff spots still up for grabs.
So how about one more Saturday filled with win-or-go-home tension, fits of scoreboard-watching and the possibility of champagne showers?
Sounds super, doesn't it?
Exactly 2,399 Major League games have been played thus far this season, but there are some big ones remaining, starting with a Super Saturday that could finish off the postseason picture. Or, it could extend the thrills into Sunday. Or, it could set up a fourth consecutive year with a 163rd game to break a tie on Monday.
And if you're the Padres, being alive for Saturday is a lot better than the alternative. Really it's what any fan, player or manager could ask for out of the final weekend of the season.
"It's good stuff," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Whether you call it pressure or whatever you want to call it, it's where you want to be."
Baseball just doesn't let up until 2,430 games are in the books, so from Turner Field in Atlanta to AT&T Park in San Francisco, it's game on and hold on to your rally caps Saturday afternoon.
The fun begins with 4:10 p.m. ET starts on FOX pitting the Braves and Phillies on the East Coast and the Padres and Giants on the West Coast, both with obviously huge postseason implications.
And even if the National League picture were to be clarified by wins by the Giants and Braves on Saturday, there's no guarantee the American League will know who's playing whom in the Division Series, even though the four entrants are decided.
A Yankees-Red Sox doubleheader, a split double-dip starting at 4:10 p.m. ET made necessary by Friday's rainout in Boston, will have something to say about the AL picture. But even that might not decide whether the Rays, visiting the Royals at 7 p.m. ET, or the Yankees will enter the postseason as the AL East champion -- or if the Twins, hosting the Jays at 1 p.m. ET, still might sneak in as the No. 1 seed.
Thanks to a Friday that got a little freaky, Saturday's going to be just super.
Heading into it, the two teams in the lead of the two open National League races control their destiny. The Giants need just one win in the next two days to claim their first NL West title since 2003, and the Braves could leave everything else out of the equation by winning their final two games to claim the Wild Card.
"We're still in a good position here," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "We've just got to go out and play our game and we see it that way. We have to win a game, (the Padres) have to win a game. That's where we're at right now."
Atlanta's Bobby Cox was a bit more succinct.
"We need to win tomorrow," Cox said after Friday night's loss.
The Phillies conspired to keep the Wild Card race very much alive by defeating the Braves 11-5 as the Padres-Giants game was just starting, with the combination of the two outcomes keeping the Padres alive and kicking.
The NL East battle continues Saturday with a meeting between the Braves' Tommy Hanson and Phillies rookie Vance Worley, making just his second start and fifth career appearance. The Phillies showed Friday night they're not stepping aside by any means as the Braves battle for their very existence.
"We're division rivals," said Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, Friday's starter and winner. "We want to beat these guys and make it tough on them."
In San Francisco, veteran left-hander Barry Zito will be in the clincher's position that Matt Cain couldn't quite muster Friday. The Padres will send Tim Stauffer to the mound for what's obviously his most important start of a whirlwind season that included an emergency appendectomy and a run as perhaps the strongest Padres starter down the stretch.
For the Padres, going from suffering a deflating loss to the Cubs at home one day to holding on for an electric victory before a raucous road crowd the next means they're still alive for the final Saturday of the season.
It's beyond super. It's everything.
"It's great that we still control our own destiny," said Padres All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, whose three-run homer wound up being huge. "We know we just have to win the next two games and we're in the playoffs, or at least a tiebreaker.
"I just think it's a great place to be, and there are 21 other teams out there right now that wish they were in the same position."
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.