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Which MLB team can rise to make playoffs?

There will be Giants

Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

Seldom has a wild-card era September offered less excitement for baseball fans. About the only real drama lies in whether two of baseball's best pitching staffs — the Giants and Angels — can rise to the occasion to overcome teams with much better lineups (the Diamondbacks and Rangers).

As much as I love the Angels' trio of Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren, I don't think they can be good enough to stop a Rangers team that's a threat to outslug the Red Sox or Yankees in a playoff series.

But the Giants can — and probably still will — reach the playoffs. They have the confidence of winning a down-to-the-last-day race against the Padres a year ago, and they have a favorable schedule.

Giants in best position

Steve Gould

Baltimore Sun

Injuries to Brian Wilson and Carlos Beltran aside, the Giants are in the best position to edge their way into the postseason.

Entering Monday, San Francisco was eight games behind in the wild-card race but only 1½ games behind the Diamondbacks in the National League West.

The Giants and Diamondbacks both benefit from playing bad teams the rest of the season, but San Francisco's remaining non-division opponents are the Cubs and Astros, the two worst teams in the NL.

Throw in the question mark the Diamondbacks have at the No. 5 starter position, and it might be enough for the defending World Series champs to reach the playoffs.

Diamondbacks will falter

Harvey Fialkov

Sun Sentinel

Unless MLB adds another wild-card team, as the owners have been contemplating, seven of the eight playoff teams seem locked in.

The Rays have the hard luck to be in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox. The Tigers are pulling away from the Indians. The Rangers have too much power for the Angels. The Brewers have left the Cardinals in their dust. No one will catch the Braves for the wild card.

The NL West-leading Diamondbacks have scored six runs in five straight losses, while the defending World Series champion Giants begin a 12-game homestand against sub-.500 teams.

The Giants, led by their trio of aces, will overtake the no-name Diamondbacks for the final spot.

Angels have an edge

Bill Shaikin

Los Angeles Times

I'm going with the Angels in the American League West. The Rangers have 21 games left against teams with winning records. The Angels have 13, six of those against the Rangers.

Over the next two weeks, the Rangers play the Red Sox, Angels, Rays, Red Sox again and Rays again. At the same time, the Angels play the White Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Twins and Mariners again.

The Angels aren't going to outhit anybody, but they just called up mega-prospect Mike Trout to join Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter in baseball's best defensive outfield.

Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana can give up all the fly balls they like now — and the Angels can win the close ones.

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