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It's the 5th and deciding game between the Astros and Braves. Oswalt vs. Wright is your pitching matchup. Will the 'Stros find a way to win a series, for a change?
Today's games:

1:00PM EST Atlanta (Ortiz) at Houston (Clemens)
4:00PM EST St. Louis (Suppan) at L.A. (Perez)

Houston and St. Louis each lead 2 games to 1.
Two teams - the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Dodgers - face elimination today.

Atlanta and Houston are tied and although the Astros are at home, neither Clemens nor Oswalt takes the mound today. Should the Astros lose, will Garner start Clemens and Oswalt on short rest in Games 4 and 5?

Minnesota will almost certainly send Johan Santana to the mound today and Brad Radke tomorrow in New York if the Twins win Game 4. Both will be starting on short rest, but that's the only realistic hope Minnesota has. So far the series has been eerily similar to last year's ALDS.

Yesterday, it looked like an easy win for the Red Sox until Mike Timlin walked Darin Erstad after getting to a 1-2 count. He then grooved a pitch to Vladdy who tied the game. David Ortiz was the extra-inning hero - he hit a 2-run walkoff homerun off surprise reliever Jarrod Washburn to sink the Angels.
Bronson Arroyo starts for Boston against the Angels and Kelvim Escobar this afternoon. The Bosox lead the series 2-0.

In the night game, Kevin Brown and the Yankees take on Carlos Silva and the Twins. The series is tied 1-1.
The National League is in action today. The Braves seek to rebound from the thumping they took in game 1, but Roy Oswalt will be a tough nut to crack. They'll need to play great defence and a solid effort from Mike Hampton to win.

Tonight, it's Jeff Weaver's turn to take a stroll through Assasins' Alley. Look for the Sea of Red to win another one and for Eric Gagne to have a tuneup inning at the end of the game.
Three more games on tap today. In a few minutes, the Astros will open their 2004 playoff series against their perennial post-season nightmare, Atlanta. The pitching matchup is Roger Clemens versus Jaret Wright, so if the 'Stros don't take this first game, they're at a decided disadvantage from here on out. The 7:00 EST game sees a rematch of the Twins and Yankees from the Bronx, with groundballers extraordinaire Jon Lieber and Brad Radke facing off. And in the west coast game, the Angels find themselves in the unenviable position of being down 1-0 at home and facing Pedro Martinez. Thanks to their 1-2 starters, the Red Sox are going to be a very dangerous post-season opponent. Enjoy.
They are underway in Saint Louis. After one inning, a two-out solo blast to straightaway centre by Albert Pujols has given the Cards a 1-0 lead.

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble; give a whistle!
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And so it comes to an end. Soon, 161 games will be in the books, and then it'll all finally be over: the disappointment, the frustration, the heartache, the anger, the finger-pointing, and the general unpleasantness. And that was just the Game Threads. [rimshot]
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The Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat Detroit last night, a victory no doubt celebrated with champagne in the front office at Tropicana Field. With the win, the D-Rays assured themselves of escaping the AL East basement and finishing fourth for the first time in their brief history. The win also guaranteed another fact: with their worst record in 23 years, the Toronto Blue Jays are going to finish Dead Freakin' Last in 2004. They will choose either 4th, 5th or 6th in next June's draft, depending on the Expos and Brewers' final weekend performances. Welcome, in other words, to rock bottom.

Now, for Jays fans, this indisputably stinks. But if you're the kind of person who likes to find just one thing to feel positive about: try this: this is only the second time Toronto has finished last in any full season since 1982. Since then, the DFL position has been apportioned thus:

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As October begins, the Blue Jays return to Toronto to start their last home series of the year. Less than six months ago, they were about to start their first Skydome series of 2004, against the lowly Detroit Tigers. Attitudes and expectations could not be more different today than they were then.
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The Jays hope to salvage a split in the 4-game series and retain a faint hope of catching the Devil Rays for 4th place. The Rays were smoked by the Detroit Tigers 8-0 this afternoon and are tied 4-4 in the 8th of the second game of their doubleheader. The Jays sit 2 games behind Tampa Bay with 4 games to go.
For those of you who were not able to see Gustavo Chacin pitch last time out, you're in for a treat. Provided, of course, that he looks like the same pitcher I saw making his major league debut last week.

There are two distinct features in Chacin's delivery:

1) He has a hitch near the beginning of the windup which some observers think is a balk. By the rules, it is indeed, since he comes to a stop and restarts his motion. But since this is his normal full wind-up (and is not used with runners on base) the umpires will probably let it go.

2) He throws out his glove hand where the ball will come flying out from before his pitching arm comes forward; this probably distracts the hitter just a little bit. It looks a little like a windmill.
Ted Lilly's normal turn was to fall on the final day of the regular season. With the rainout, Ryan Glynn is now scheduled to get the last start for the Blue Jays, while Lilly makes the final start of an impressive season in Baltimore today.
**** POSTPONED ****

Magic is how I would describe Ted Lilly when he's on his game. A deceptively quick fastball, a killer change and a quality curve spell trouble for opponents when he's on - hitters tie themselves in knots trying to adjust to the changing speed and location of his repertoire.

Some scoffed when Lilly was chosen as the lone Blue Jays representative at the all-star game. But a strong case can be made that Lilly has not only been the most valuable pitcher on the team, but arguably the team MVP.

Lilly will start the final game of the season if he takes his regular rest, though stranger things have happened. This might be the last chance to see him in action before the curtain is drawn on a painful and disappointing campaign for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Many fans were getting tired of finishing third behind the Yankees and Red Sox. And they got their wish - Toronto won't finish 3rd; Baltimore will get that honour.

Last year the Orioles restocked their lineup with three big acquisitions - Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez and Rafael Palmeiro. As group they've done almost as well as could be expected, and yet it wasn't enough to get the O's to .500.

Just 6 more games after tonight.