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And your teams with the best records in each league (as of right now): The LA Angels and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Who the hell would’ve predicted that back in April?

AMERICAN LEAGUE

LA Angels 91-62 –
Cleveland 90-62 1/2
Boston 90-63 1
NY Yankees 88-64 2 1/2

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Arizona 86-67 –
San Diego 85-67 1/2
NY Mets 84-68 1 1/2
Philadelphia 83-70 3
Colorado 81-72 5
Atlanta 80-73 6
Chicago Cubs 80-73 6

nllogo.gifThe one thing I like more about the NL than the AL is the parity in the league. In recent history, the gap between the best teams and worst teams has been much closer in the NL than the AL, which makes for more exciting playoff races since more teams are within striking distance of the leaders.

GAME OF THE DAY:

San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks, 6:30 p.m. The Padres pummeled the D’Backs in the series opener 10-2, to move into first place by one game over Arizona. As Ducksnorts points out, the Padres’ offense is playing better than people realize lately. Despite the loss, one of my favorite players to watch, Eric Byrnes, is playing well lately. Today’s probables: Chris Young vs. Doug Davis.

OTHER BIG MLB GAMES:

Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs, 5 p.m. The Dodgers handily beat the Cubs in the series opener, winning 11-3. Carlos Zambrano hasn’t pitched too well since signing that contract extension. Since both the Brewers and Cardinals lost, the Cubs remain 1.5 games in front of Milwaukee and 2 in front of St. Louis. The Dodgers are four behind San Diego in the NL West and three behind Arizona in the NL Wild Card. If they want to make the playoffs, Shea Hillenbrand should never play again.

Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees, 4 p.m. The wild card is the only exciting race that’s worth watching, with all three division leaders up by at least six games. Most people are under the impression though that the Yankees are just going to run away with the wild card. That could be why this series is so important. The Mariners won on Monday, and with a win tonight could be tied for the wild card lead.

WHO THE REST OF THE CONTENDERS ARE PLAYING:

Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers (2.5 games out of WC), 4 p.m.
New York Mets (5 game lead) at Cincinnati Reds, 4 p.m.
Philadelphia Phillies (3 out of WC) at Atlanta Braves (5.5 out of WC), 4:30 p.m.
Houston Astros at Milwaukee Brewers (1.5 out of NL Central), 5 p.m.
Cleveland Indians (6 game lead) at Minnesota Twins, 5 p.m.
Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals (2 out of NL Central), 5 p.m.
San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies (4 out of WC), 5:30 p.m.
Oakland A’s at LA Angels (6.5 game lead), 7 p.m.

OTHER SPORTS:

None of relevance that I can find. Feel free to submit your own.

brandonwebbbobble.jpgBrandon Webb is scheduled to start for the Diamondbacks tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers. Webb currently has a 42 consecutive scoreless innings streak. The record, of course, is held by Orel Hershiser who had 59.

42 scoreless innings is incredible, especially in this day and age with more offense and pitchers being taken out of games earlier than ever.

Let’s not get carried away though. It’s far from a certainty that Webb will throw two more shutouts in a row to break Orel’s record. Before this streak started, Webb had only two starts where he didn’t allow a run.

A look at the other best pitchers in the majors and how often they’ve had starts without allowing a run (Webb hasn’t allowed a run in 7 of his 26 starts):

Chris Young: 10 of 23 (but two starts were 3 innings or less)
Jake Peavy: 7 of 25
Brad  Penny: 6 of 26
Tim Hudson: 6 of 27
Johan Santana: 4 of 26
Kelvim Escobar: 3 of 23
Dan Haren: 3 of 26
John Lackey: 2 of 25

So this is far from a certainty. But it will be fun to root for. A lot of us like to see records challenged and broken, and this is an extremely impressive record.

diamondbacks.jpgSomehow, the Diamondbacks are in first place despite having been outscored this season by 28 runs.

They’re 65-51 with an expected pythagorean record of 55-61 (they’ve scored 484 runs, allowed 512), meaning they’re playing a ridiculous 10 games better than their pythagorean record. The next highest difference between actual record and pythagorean record belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals, six games better (53-59 compared to 47-65).

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, studies have shown in the past that teams will generally win close to the number of games that the difference between the number of runs they score and allow. It makes sense when you think about it — the Red Sox are really, really good because they score a lot more runs than they give up, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are really, really bad because they give up a lot more runs than they score.

But Arizona has been an exception this year. While looking at those stats might lead you to believe that Arizona will regress, I’ve been waiting for that to happen for a couple of months and the Diamonbacks have only moved up in the standings, currently with a three-game lead over the Padres and a five-game lead over the Rockies and Dodgers.

Arizona may regress a little, but just because they’ve over-achieved to this point doesn’t mean they have to underachieve the rest of the way. If Arizona plays 22-24 the rest of the way, which is what their expected record says they should, San Diego would have to go 27-21 to pass them, which given the way they’ve played this year, is far from a lock.

And if the 83-78 St. Louis Cardinals can win the World Series, well, anything can happen in the playoffs.

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