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The bottom half

September 07, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The week ahead

Angels: It appears as if Yankee Stadium will go out with a whimper, not with a World Series game or even a division series game, but with a meaningless Sept. 21 game against the last-place Baltimore Orioles. The New York Yankees appear destined to be out of the playoffs for the first time since 1993, and they might have to watch from the visiting dugout this week as the Angels clinch the American League West title. The Yankees might also have to watch the hated Boston Red Sox clinch the AL wild card on the season's final weekend at Fenway Park.

Angels vs. New York Yankees, Monday through Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

Dodgers: As Joe Torre's old team fumbles away its chance at October, his new team stumbles toward an improbable playoff berth. The Dodgers climbed into first place Saturday, for the first time since April 4, at two games above .500. The Arizona Diamondbacks dropped into second place, but Colorado is not done yet: The Rockies are closer to the lead today than they were on this date last year, when they were six games out of first place. Their last gasp at a World Series encore -- or, at least, a playoff encore -- could come with the Dodgers in town next weekend.

Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies, Friday through next Sunday at Coors Field, Denver.

Elsewhere: If the Tampa Bay Rays hold off the Red Sox in the AL East, Tampa Bay would win a division championship for the first time in its history. That would leave the Florida Marlins and Rockies as the only clubs never to win a division title, although both clubs got into the playoffs with the wild card and got to the World Series. (The Washington Nationals won the National League East as the Montreal Expos, in 1981.) The Rays play 18 of their last 24 games away from Tropicana Field; they are 53-21 at home and 32-34 on the road.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox, Monday through Wednesday at Fenway Park, Boston.

Minor leaguers of the week

Dodgers: Anthony Delmonico, 2b

Delmonico, the Dodgers' sixth-round pick in the June draft, closed out the regular season in rookie ball with a flourish. In a six-game stretch at Ogden, Utah, he hit five home runs and drove in 11 runs. He is one of the older players in rookie ball, at 21, but his season statistics sparkle, with more runs scored (38) and runs batted in (39) than games played (35). He hit .340 with 20 doubles and 11 home runs. He transferred from Tennessee to Florida State after the Volunteers fired his father as their baseball coach.

Angels: Rafael Rodriguez, rhp

The Angels' double-A Arkansas affiliate won Texas League playoff games Thursday and Friday, with Rafael Rodriguez saving each game and striking out all four batters he faced Friday. In the final month of the regular season, the Dominican native posted a 0.68 ERA, with one walk and 14 strikeouts in 13 innings. Rodriguez, 23, is in his second season as a reliever, after failing to advance past double-A in five seasons as a starter.

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