Mets and struggling pen limp to the finish (cont.)
Stud of the Day
He strikes out a lot -- man, can this guy swing and miss -- but Arizona center fielder Chris Young, when he's on, can pound the ball, too. Sunday, Young was on in a 13-4 rout of the Rockies that pulled the D'backs within 2 1/2 games of the Dodgers in the NL West. Young had three hits -- including a triple and his 20th home run of the year -- and drove in four runs.
Dud of the Day
A little too much bubbly, perhaps? In his first game since his team clinched the franchise's first playoff berth, Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria went 0-for-4 during a 4-1 loss to the Twins with a pair of strikeouts. He also committed two errors.
Quote of the Day
"I'd be lying to say we expected it. We hoped it could happen. We wanted to put ourselves into position so that it could happen. But there are some things that you can't predict. There's some magic going on here, and we're going to ride this as long as we can."
-- Rays president Matt Silverman, to the St. Petersburg Times, after the Rays clinched a playoff berth on Saturday
Monday's Key Games
Braves (Jurrjens) at Phillies (Happ), 7:05 p.m.
Happ 6 IP, 3 H in win vs. Braves last Wednesday
Indians (Jackson) at Red Sox (Beckett), 7:05 p.m.
Boston hasn't finished on top two straight seasons since 1915 and '16
Cubs (Marquis) at Mets (Niese), 7:10 p.m.
Niese 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R in last start ... though it was against the Braves
The one head-to-head series of note this week turns out to be the Twins at the White Sox, Tuesday through Thursday. Both teams are just 6-8 in their last 14 games, and the Twins still trail the Sox in the AL Central by 2 1/2 games. The loser of that division is almost certainly out of the postseason.
The Phillies' Ryan Howard has been so good lately (.327 with a 1.206 OPS since his last back-to-back oh-fers, on Aug. 20-21) that Arizona's Mark Reynolds has blown by him and now leads the majors in strikeouts, at 196 and whiffing. With four more, Reynolds can break Howard's single-season record of 199, set last season.
The Angels and Rays, possible rivals in a postseason series, have the best records in the AL over the second half of the season. The Angels are 39-21. The Rays are 37-23. But the Rays, for whatever it's worth, play in a much harder division, with four teams over .500 in the East. The Angels, already with 96 wins, are the only team that will finish over .500 in the West.
A plus for the Angels: They are the only AL team that will be in the playoffs with a winning road record. They're 47-30.
Give credit to Mike Scioscia, the Angels' manager. He's not letting his guys coast into October. Since the Angels clinched the AL West, they are 8-2, including their last four in a row. They're hitting .292 with a .363 on-base percentage in those 10 games.
A quick prediction on the NL wild card and the NL West, two races that, technically, are still to be decided: Zoot suits will come back before the Diamondbacks or the Brewers do.
CC Sabathia has now lost his last two decisions with the Brewers, which has thrown a bucket of cold water onto his NL Cy Young candidacy. The numbers are still very good: 9-2. 1.81 ERA. It's just that the Brewers aren't.