Remember last April when Toronto surged to the top of the AL East? The Blue Jays did it against mostly non-divisional competition and everyone waited to see what would happen when the competition stiffened? Toronto was gone from the race by the end of May. This year's surprise early starter is Oakland, on top of the AL West. The A's don't have to worry about beating AL East teams all year long like Toronto did, but they will get tested with a road trip this week. It starts with two games at Tampa and then goes on to Toronto for the weekend. Oakland didn't match up at home against New York, and we'll see if they can fare any better on the road. But this has the feel of a week where the Angels can knock off those two games that separates them from the leaders. It's also a home test for Toronto, who's hanging in third place right now and starts the week with a
chance to bury Boston even further.
The grudge match between the Phillies and Mets renews this weekend in Philly. As noted in yesterday's post below, New York got their act together this week and capped off a sweep of Atlanta last night. Philadelphia's in first place in a crowded field, but is still limping along with injuries and not yet had the chance to look like the team we all expected. Teams like the Mets have to get their licks in now before Charlie Manuel gets his people healthy. Both teams have showdowns with NL West foes early in the week, with Philly in San Francisco and the Mets hosting Los Angeles, a series that starts with tonight's nationally televised ESPN game.
ESPN's midweek game will be Minnesota-Detroit, as the top two teams in the AL Central square off. The Twins are out to a three-game lead and setting the stage for what they hope will be a magic run in their new stadium with Joe Mauer newly signed to a contract
extension. It's a big week for Detroit, who follows this series up with a home set against the Angels. Not taking care of their home field means Detroit is likely to be staring at a five-game deficit by this time next week. Over in the National League, another interesting set will be San Francisco-Colorado, as the presumed contenders of the NL West wait for San Diego to fall down to earth.
The White Sox & Orioles have about as big a weeks as its possible to have in April. Already digging themselves a hole, Chicago will be on the road in Texas and New York. It's not a situation they're going to make up ground in, but they can't fall much further back. And Baltimore's Dave Trembley hot seat is going to get hotter with visits from the Yankees & Red Sox in succession.
Notebook will take its ususal Tuesday off tomorrow. On Wednesday & Thursday, I'll back with closer looks at the Rays & Phils.