This TWIB Notes scribe took some time off over the last week to . . . coach and watch baseball. To catch you up on the league’s happenings we will go team by team over the eight day stretch from May 19 – 26. But, let’s start with the punchline. There is NFL style parity in Winchester Majors 2021 edition. After the games Tuesday May 25, five of the eight teams had 6 or 7 wins and all five had a legitimate chance to win the regular season title with 3-4 games remaining.
The league’s hottest team over this stretch was clearly the Athletics. They went 3-0 with victories over the Red Sox, Cardinals and a tight 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks. Their recipe seems to be (i) solid starting pitching from the likes of Jack Charchaflian, Daniel Driscoll and Justin Muse, (ii) aggressive hitting up and down the line-up and (iii) lights out closing from Nick Penicaud, who the A’s aren’t afraid to wait on until the tying run is on base in the last inning. This hot play has improved their record to 7-4 and a shot at the league’s regular season title with a good finish.
The talent laden Padres went 2-1 over the week with wins against the Orioles and Dodgers (winning pitchers Michael Condron and Luke Sardone) and a loss to the Red Sox. The Pads have cooled off since their hot start but they have the league’s most dangerous set of 12 year olds and top assistant coach talent in former BC star Tom Mandile. No one will want to play the Padres come playoff time.
Prior to last night, the Diamondbacks had rolled off 5 wins and a tie over a six game stretch and were in first place. The heavy practice schedule was paying dividends. You need many arms to make that happen and they have them in Guidara, Cassidy, Boksanski, Philips, Daniels et al. Losses to the White Sox and A’s this week have cooled the Dbacks run but they are in position to make the pre-season poll a poor indicator of success.
The Dodgers could be the league’s hardest team to figure out. They went 2-1-1 over the last week. At times, they look truly dominant with a plethora of pitchers, hitters and great defense to go along with the sweetest looking unis in the league. But they have also suffered a few head scratching losses, possibly the result of multiple injuries to their star players. They are right there in the standings, however, after a come from behind win on Wednesday against the Red Sox and they will only need a little help to claim the top spot in the regular season standings.
The Orioles went 1-1 over the last week with a win over the Red Sox and a loss to the Padres. But they are 3-1 over their last four games and making some real noise including a walk off win over the White Sox. Noah Biel has been sensational on the hill for the Os and their defense under first year manager Ross Thompson has started to come around. A playoff date with the Os can not be taken lightly.
The White Sox went 1-0-1 over the last week with a hard fought tie against a tough Dodgers pitching crew last Friday and a win against the Diamondbacks last night. This play has given them the narrowest of leads in the standings heading into the final three games. Contributions from Adrian Lupien and Axel Osborn have been real differentiators for this squad who is trying to prove the pre-season pundits wrong.
The Cardinals have battled hard game in and game out but were not able to get any Ws last week. The Cards have a plethora of young talented players who are getting meaningful reps this season for veteran manager Jeff Krogmeier. They are lurking below the radar and poised to make the Red Sox, White Sox or Padres a victim in the season’s final week.
The Red Sox were the darling of the pre-season coaches poll. When Stephen McCabe toes the rubber, watch out. McCabe got the win in a 2-1 barn burner against the Padres last Friday and almost led the Sox to win against the Dodgers on Wednesday. The Sox are turning their focus to the postseason at this point and anyone who faces them will be on their heels against a potent lineup that includes Sam Pandolfo, Jack Allen, Richie Masterpiol, Jack Silberhorn, Jovic Stachelski and Sean Boyd, to name a few.
On Thursday night there are three games on the schedule: Dodgers vs. Orioles, White Sox vs. As and Cardinals vs. Red Sox. Enjoy the last week of the regular season.