HOUSTON — Astros manager Brad Mills looks forward to the possibility of spoiling the St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff hopes in the final regular-season game Wednesday when veteran Brett Myers takes the mound against three-time All-Star ace Chris Carpenter.
St. Louis enters Wednesday tied for first place in the NL Wild Card race with the Atlanta Braves, who wrap up their season by hosting the 2011 NL East-champion Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field.
If both teams win, a one-game playoff will take place Thursday at Busch Stadium in order to officially clinch an NL Wild Card berth.
Although Mills looks forward to the Astros’ season finale and the possible outcome, the second-year skipper admits he’ll be keeping a close eye on longtime friend Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox, as they attempt to clinch the AL Wild Card.
Mills, who spent six seasons (2004-09) as Boston’s bench coach and Francona’s right-hand man, thinks it’s remarkable that both Wild Card races will come down to the final day of the season.
Although Boston could be on the verge of completing an epic meltdown, Mills has faith that his former team will come out on top.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be keeping an eye on it,” Mills said. “It is fun to watch them and see how they’re doing. It’s interesting how the whole thing is doing down. I do think they’ll hold on and get the Wild Card. I’m pulling for Terry [Francona] and the entire team.
“That’s for sure.”
The Red Sox find themselves tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card lead, with two-time All-Star left-hander Jon Lester scheduled to start Wednesday at Baltimore on three-days’ rest.
Similar to the Cardinals/Braves, if the Reds and Rays win their final games, a one-game playoff will take place Thursday at Tampa.
The Rays face the New York Yankees on Wednesday.
For Boston, it’s been an uneventful month of September, as they blew a divisional lead, as well as a nine-game lead over Tampa.
Their 7-19 record this month has changed the landscape of the AL playoff race, thus leading to the Yankees clinching the AL East and allowing Tampa to hang around in the Wild Card race.
The Red Sox haven’t been able to execute in all aspects of the game down the stretch and reportedly began distributing blame among one another behind closed doors in what has always been a tremendous clubhouse filled with solid veteran leadership.
Although Lester owns a 14-0 record with a 2.33 ERA over 17 career starts versus the Orioles, he’s compiled a 10.54 ERA, including yielding a season-high eight runs, last Saturday at New York.
Despite all the negativity surrounding the Red Sox entering Wednesday’s finale, they have a chance to justify things with a win.
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