Calfo, CA (PressExposure) September 01, 2009 -- It's September and that means back to school, NFL betting kicks in and the Major League Baseball pennant races start.
The expansion to include one wild-card playoff contender in each league began in 1995 and provides more excitement to the season for those teams and their fans.
The wild-card race is open to all divisions across the American and National leagues adding to the thrill of the pennant race.
BetRepublic has been paying close attention to the pennant races, giving out their top baseball picks on the Bet Republic online TV sports betting show. This year is serving up its share of excitement, with teams battling down to the finish to determine who gets into the playoffs.
Teams play a whopping 162 games and it usually comes down to one game to either make the playoffs or not. Heading into September, the division leaders in both leagues all have at least a 41/2 game lead on the second place teams.
The closest race is in the American League Central where the Tigers lead the Twins by 41/2 games. Over the past 13 seasons, no team that led a division by more than three games entering September has failed to make the playoffs.
Now a lot can happen between now and the end of the regular season on October 4th but the division front-runners have been playing good ball since the all-star break. One team that is slipping a bit right now are the L.A. Angels who are 4-6 in their last 10 games, but Texas who are five games behind the Angels have gone 5-5 over the same stretch.
The addition this weekend of pitcher Scott Kazmir, acquired from Tampa Bay, will help the Angels keep their lead over Texas.
The Wild Card races are where the real excitement will be this fall. Boston leads the American League by 3 Â½ games over Texas and is 5 Â½ clear of Tampa Bay. In the National League it's a dead heat between Colorado and the Giants.
San Francisco swept the weekend series between the two clubs to even their records at 72-59. Atlanta Braves and Florida are both 3 Â½ games back with the Cubs just five games back. The Braves begin a four game series in Florida this week that will certainly have an impact on the race.
In the National League the wild-card teams are backing into the playoffs with no team other than the Giants at 6-4 in their last ten winning more than five over the same span. Colorado will try to right their ship against the hapless Mets this week and will meet the Giants for one more three-game set in September.
The Cubbies have Houston for two games this week before a make-up game with the White-Sox on Thursday. Chicago has a big four game series with the Giants at the end of September which could go a long way in deciding the wild-card winner. San Francisco is in tough this week with a three-game tilt at home against the Phillies.
In the American League, the Rangers host the miserable Blue Jays in a three game set to kick off the week. Tampa Bay plays host to Boston for a three game series this week. The same teams meet in Boston the following week for three games.
Boston is the hottest team in the race having gone 7-3 in their last ten but that includes sweeping the Jays this weekend. The Jays appear to have thrown in the towel for the season and the Rangers should take three against them to begin the week to keep them in the race with the Angels for the division.
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