Phillies look like team to beat in East -- again (cont.)
Dud of the Day
In his seventh bid to earn career win No. 295, the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson gave up four runs in the bottom of the first inning to the Cardinals in a 7-4 loss that put a severe, probably fatal, hurting on Arizona's postseason hopes. The Big Unit struck out only one batter, too, matching a season low.
Quote of the Day
"That wasn't a loss. That was a [butt]-kicking, that's what that was."
-- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen after Tuesday's 9-3 loss to the Twins
Wednesday's Key Games
Rays (Jackson) at Orioles (Liz), 7:05 p.m.
Rays can clinch AL East with win and Boston loss.
Indians (Carmona) at Red Sox (Byrd), 7:05 p.m.
Byrd (4-2, 4.50 with Boston) faces former team with AL East hopes fading.
Braves (Reyes) at Phillies (Myers), 7:05 p.m.
Good news for the Phils: Last 13 starts: A 6.99 ERA, zero wins for the lefty Reyes
Cubs (Zambrano) at Mets (Perez), 7:10 p.m.
Mets need Perez and rest of staff to follow Johan's lead this week
Pirates (Maholm) at Brewers (Sabathia), 8:05 p.m.
After walkoff must-win on Tuesday, CC going on short rest again
White Sox (Buehrle) at Twins (Blackburn), 8:10 p.m.
Back on regular rest, Buehrle is 6-1, 3.36 ERA in last nine starts
Diamondbacks (Scherzer) at Cardinals (Wainwright), 8:15 p.m.
It's up to the rookie fireballer to stop Arizona's fade in the West
Padres (Estes) at Dodgers (Kershaw), 10:10 p.m.
NL West putting up little fight against soon-to-be champs
Well, that about does it in the NL West, doesn't it? The Dodgers' pasting of San Diego, coupled with the Diamondbacks' roll-over against the Cardinals on Tuesday, puts L.A.'s magic number at three. Or, for those challenged in the Dark Arts of the magic number, the Dodgers are up three games with five to play. L.A. fans looking ahead to the postseason, though, should heed this word of caution: The only team that the Dodgers have played outside of the weak West since then is Pittsburgh. The competition gets a little tougher come October.
Continuing with the wet-blanket theme: Nice win by the Mets on Tuesday behind Santana. But it needs to be pointed out that the Cubs, who clinched a playoff sport a day earlier, sat third baseman Aramis Ramirez, shortstop Ryan Theriot and catcher Geovany Soto in that game. I'm just saying.
Tuesday's win by Boston puts the defending World Series champs back in the postseason. It also means that either the Twins or the White Sox -- not both -- is going to make the field. The White Sox are still 1½ games ahead of the Twins in the Central.
By the way, total number of wins for World Series champions the following postseason, since the end of the 2001 season: Zero.
Hugely important ninth-inning walkoff homer by Milwaukee's Prince Fielder on Tuesday, which explains why the Brewers were partying at home plate like it was 1982. When you think about it, though, it is a bit strange. They weren't celebrating as much as exhaling. The Fielder home run didn't help them gain ground. It just kept them even. But with five games left, and still a game behind the Mets for the wild card, they certainly can't afford to lose any ground.
A lot of long faces in the Bronx today, I'm sure, with the demise of the Yanks' 13-year postseason run. A lot of snickering going on in a lot of other places, too.
Is Albert Pujols' late-September slump going to cost him the NL's MVP? In his 14 games before Tuesday, the Cardinals' first baseman hit a mere .235, with just a .310 on-base percentage. He had two hits in Tuesday's win over the Diamondbacks to boost that a little. But he's probably conceded the NL batting crown to Atlanta's Chipper Jones. Jones leads, .364 to .350. The MVP? We'll have to see.
Speaking of taking a hit: Tim Lincecum lasted only 4 1/3 innings and gave up six runs in a loss to the Rockies on Tuesday. The Mets' Santana now leads the league in ERA over Lincecum, 2.64 to 2.66. Lincecum struck out nine and still leads the league in K's, but his shaky outing was probably good news for Santana and for wins leader Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks, as far as the NL Cy Young goes.
The Indians' Cliff Lee lost Tuesday, too. His Cy Young hopes remain intact.
The Braves' announcers on Tuesday night, as nice as can be, pointed out that Atlanta right fielder Jeff Francoeur made four outs on eight pitches -- and that included striking out twice. He didn't take a single pitch. Once considered a cornerstone of future Braves teams, Francoeur has some big-time breaking down and building up to do this winter.