U Talking About the Playoffs

U Talking About the Playoffs

The math could not be any simpler. Win and they're in.

The Union, in just their second season in MLS, can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Toronto FC today (4PM/Comcast SportsNet).

There are multiple scenarios where the Union can clinch a postseason berth even with a loss, but you know they want to celebrate the accomplishment in front of the home fans.

After a lull where they went winless over eight games, Peter Nowak's side has recovered to go unbeaten over the last seven. The most impressive feat over this run of good form is that they earned four out of a possible six points after traveling to the West Coast on consecutive weeks (a 1-1 tie at Chivas USA and a 2-0 win at Seattle).

The key figure over this stretch has been Sebastien Le Toux. The Frenchman has nine goals and two assists over the last 11 games. He set-up the Union's second goal in Seattle last week, sprinting 50+ yards before slotting a pass over to Brian Carroll for the finish.

Le Toux's versatility has been a godsend for this team. However, he's not the only complete two-way player on the field. The Union have benefited from their own version of "Total Football".

Le Toux, Freddy Adu, Michael Farfan, Gabriel Farfan, and Sheanon Williams are effective all over the field. They get forward, they track back, and they're just as likely to get to the byline and serve a ball into the box as they are to win a ball in and around their own eighteen yard box.

Speaking of effective play, the Union have never been more effective offensively than the last time they faced Toronto. The U dropped a six-spot on them back in May at BMO Field en route to a 6-2 win. Due to some high profile arrivals and departures TFC is a vastly different team than the one that was destroyed by the Union in May.

Maicon Santos, who scored both of the Toronto goals that day, is now a member of FC Dallas. German international Torsten Frings, he of the infamous handball against the US in the 2002 World Cup Quarterfinals, and forward Danny Koevermans joined Toronto at the end of June.

All Koevermans has done is step in and become Toronto's leading scorer. The diminutive Joao Plata, he's just 5'2", leads TFC with five assits.

Toronto, who has been eliminated from playoff contention, last played two weeks ago whent they tied New York 1-1. They've been brutal on the road this season, going 1-9-6 away from home.

The Union will look to add to Toronto's road woes this afternoon. The big question is who will be between the sticks for the Union. Nowak would not confirm, but there's a good chance Faryd Mondragon, who may or not be fully recovered from a broken finger, will start. If he's unable to go then you'll see Zac MacMath make his eight consecutive start.

Today could be a historic day in Union franchise history. Clinching their first ever playoff berth in front of a raucous PPL Park crowd would be a nice way to thank the fans for their tremendous support.

Lineup I'd Like to See Today: Mondragon, Gabriel Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo, Freddy Adu, Michael Farfan Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic.

Final Score Prediction: The champagne is going to pop today. Although, since the Union have so many underage players they may need sparkling cider. Regardless, the Union win it 3-1 today.

The Toni Stahl Memorial Player Most Likely to See Red: This is too big of a game for the Union to be undisciplined. I realize I am likely jinxing things by not picking a player, but they can't pick up a red today, can they?

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

TORONTO -- Hyun Soo Kim hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Roberto Osuna, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto 3-2 on Wednesday night to move within one game of the AL wild card-leading Blue Jays.

With Toronto ahead 2-1, Jonathan Schoop singled with one out, pinch-runner Michael Bourn stole second and Kim homered on a 3-2 pitch into the visiting bullpen in right, causing the Orioles relievers to jump in celebration.

Osuna (3-3) has five blown save chances, including two in his last three appearances.

Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 46th home run, a solo drive off Jason Grilli in the eighth.

Brian Duensing (1-0) got one out, and Zach Britton finished for his 47th save in as many tries (see full recap).

Mets win to keep grip on wild-card spot
MIAMI -- The Marlins walked half a block alongside a hearse carrying their ace away from Marlins Park at the start of a funeral motorcade Wednesday, and then peeled away with watery eyes to go back inside and play a game.

Drained by four days of grieving, they didn't have much left for the New York Mets.

Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run, James Loney also homered and the Mets helped their NL wild-card chances by beating Miami 5-2.

New York began the night leading the Giants by half a game and the Cardinals by 1 1/2 games in the race for the two wild-card spots. The Mets conclude the regular season with three games at Philadelphia starting Friday.

The Marlins' loss in their home finale eliminated them from playoff contention. Despite high hopes this year, they still haven't been to the postseason since 2003.

Set Lugo (5-2) went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs.

Jose Urena (4-9) allowed five runs in five innings (see full recap).

Cano's HR boosts Mariners' playoff hopes
HOUSTON -- Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 12-4 Wednesday to keep pressure on the other AL wild-card contenders.

Kyle Seager added another three-run drive in the eighth, his 30th home run this season, as Seattle pulled within 1 games of Baltimore for the second AL wild card. Houston dropped three games back as its magic number for elimination was cut to two. The Orioles were at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Cano's career-best 36th home run, a drive off Doug Fister (12-13), landed in the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field. Cano has nine homers and 25 RBIs in 19 games against Houston this season (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

ap-phillies-adam-morgan-face.jpg
The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – The Phillies continued to stumble toward the season’s finish line on Wednesday night. They were hammered, 12-2, by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Adam Morgan was bruised for 10 hits and nine runs in five innings.

The Phils have lost five of their last six games. They have given up 63 runs over that span.

The Phils have lost six straight to the Braves and are 16-35 in their last 51 games against the NL East.

With four games to play, the Phils are 70-88.

Starting pitching report
Morgan was hit hard early but had to give the Phils some innings as the bullpen has carried a heavy load lately. He finished the season 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA in 23 games, 21 of which were starts.

Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz picked up the win. He gave up just one run over five innings.

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have scored 599 runs this season. They are the only team in the majors not to reach 600.

The Braves had 13 hits, including six for extra bases. They were 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Matt Kemp doubled and homered for the Braves.

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 30 games. He has reached base safely in 46 straight games, tying Washington’s Jayson Werth for most this season.

ICYMI
Like Pete Mackanin, GM Matt Klentak sees a need for offense, but he remains committed to the team’s rebuild (see story).

Health check
Roman Quinn is likely done for the season. Aaron Nola is throwing in Florida (see story).

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday night. Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 3.78) will make his final start of the season (and likely his final with the Phillies) against Atlanta right-hander Josh Collmenter (3-0, 4.19).

It will be the Phillies’ final appearance in Turner Field. The Braves move into a new park next season.

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