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The bottom half

September 21, 2008|Bill Shaikin

The week ahead

Dodgers: The Dodgers could clinch the National League West championship at home, with the last-place San Diego Padres trying to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1993. Then again, the Padres might be better off for losing, for the team that finishes with the worst record this season gets the No. 1 draft pick next June, presumably San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg. The race for the worst record could extend to the final day of the season, with the Padres, Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners all in contention.

Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres, Tuesday through Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

Angels: The Angels conclude the regular season with the first three games of a five-game homestand. They'll play three against the Texas Rangers, and barring a strong week from the Rangers, the American League West will have only one team finish with a winning record, for the first time in the history of the division, excepting the strike-shortened 1994 season. Then the Angels start the playoffs at home, with the first two games of the division series, against either the Boston Red Sox or Tampa Bay Rays.

Angels vs. Texas Rangers, Friday through next Sunday at Angel Stadium.

Elsewhere: The Red Sox and Rays are fighting for first place in the AL East, but does it really matter? Both teams will be in the playoffs, and a wild-card team has made the World Series in every year since 2002. The real fight is in the AL Central, where the loser goes home. The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins joust at the Metrodome, where the Twins are 5-1 against the White Sox this season. White Sox third baseman Joe Crede hit seven home runs in 11 games against Minnesota this season, but he's out because of a back injury.

Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins, Tuesday through Thursday at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis.

Minor leaguers of the week

Angels: Dan Davidson, lhp

Davidson, at 27 and in his fourth year at double-A Arkansas, is not considered a prospect. But performance deserves recognition, and Davidson delivered three terrific playoff performances en route to the Travelers' winning the Texas League championship last week. He was used mostly in relief during the regular season -- he started in six of 20 appearances -- but returned to the rotation in the playoffs. In his three starts, he pitched 20 innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out 19. He had a 2.93 ERA during the regular season, pitching 46 innings and striking out 44.

Dodgers: Xavier Paul, of

The lineup for the Dodgers' triple-A Las Vegas affiliate was filled with too many journeymen -- Terry Tiffee, John Lindsey, Wilkin Ruan, Angel Chavez, Luis Maza, John-Ford Griffin, Mitch Jones and Jason Repko each had at least 200 at-bats -- but a true outfield prospect emerged among the elders. Paul, 23, the Dodgers' fourth-round draft pick in 2003, batted .316 in his first season at triple A, including .347 after the All-Star break. He had nine home runs, 17 stolen bases and a career-high 28 doubles, and he has the best outfield arm in the organization.

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