Angels 4, Yankees 2: And that's a wrap, folks! Angels win the AL West. I know the suspense was killing you. By the reckoning of this article from a few years back, the Angels' clinch would be the fifth earliest by date in the 162-game era, following the 1975 Reds (September 7th), 1999 Indians (8th), 1998 Yankees (9th), and the 2002 Braves (9th). Of course, there are still those 1994 Montreal Expos deadenders who insist that they were somehow the NL East champs that year. If you follow their logic, that clinch occurred on August 11th.
Rays 4, Red Sox 2: Lasting as long as it did, the experience of watching this game was kind of like watching the extra innings of the All-Star Game this year, except (1) this was exciting instead of boring; (2) the players were better in this one; and (3) it mattered. I don't think I'm alone -- and I don't mean to slight the Angels or White Sox or Twins when I say this -- that at this moment I am hoping against hope that this is the ALCS preview.
Giants 4, Diamondbacks 3: You can't stop Eugenio Velez, you can only hope to contain him. To be honest, the only thing that bothers me about this nightmare skid on which the Dbacks find themselves is that it's going to cause Marty and Thom Brennaman to claim victory in the Adam Dunn-is-cancer wars.
Marlins 7, Phillies 3: Someone noted to Charlie Manuel after the game that this time last year Philadelphia was six games out yet still came back to win the division. Manuel: "I think the difference is, last year we were hot. We had enough pitching to get through. We were energetic. We had life. We really got after it." I like how he buries the one objective fact -- the Phillies pitching ain't getting it done this year -- among three empty, subjective statements about being hot or what have you. The take away for the casual listener is that things just aren't clicking. That the magic isn't there. The message to the more in-tune members of the audience -- say, reporters who may slam him or management who may scapegoat him -- is that he's been given a boatload of dead and ineffective arms.
Mets 13, Nats 10: Speaking of not having enough pitching to get through . . .
Indians 7, Orioles 1: I had to make a decision between watching this game and watching the Rays-Red Sox. Which do you think I chose? Kelly Shoppach hit a couple of home runs and now stands at .272/.346/.534 on the season. I presume, therefore, that he's going to be behind the plate and Victor Martinez at 1B on opening day 2009? Maybe Martinez won't even be around?
Brewers 4, Reds 3: Splitting 2-2 with the Padres and then losing two in a row to Cincinnati is an excellent way to let the Phillies overtake you for the wild card. They righted the ship behind the big man last night, but now they face seven games against Philadelphia and Chicago. If the 2008 season is going to end happily for Brewers fans, they will be able to point to multiple high points throughout the season. If it ends in tears, it will be because of something that happens over the next seven nights.
Mariners 8, Rangers 7: Ichiro goes 4 for 5, bringing himself to within ten hits of his eighth straight 200-hit season. That's great and all, and I'm sure we'll see some complimentary articles about him when he does it, but Ichiro is having his worst season as a Major Leaguer. If he does get to 200, he will have posted among the 20 worst all-time OPSs for a player with 200 hits in a season.
Braves 9, Rockies 5: So this James Parr fellow has me excited, seeing as though he is now scoreless in his first two Major League starts. He wasn't on any of the top 10 or top 20 Braves' prospects lists last spring -- and probably still shouldn't be based on the OK, but nothing special performances he put up in AA and AAA this year -- but Braves fans will latch onto anything right now, even if it's a low gas righty who has never posted a sub-3 ERA at any level.
A's 5, Tigers 2: Sean Gallagher gives up no runs and no hits, but has to leave after four because he walked six guys and struck out six more, throwing 88 pitches in his first start since coming off of some shoulder rehab. That's a pretty funky line.
White Sox 6, Blue Jays 5: Roy Halladay gives up five runs on nine hits and loses the game. Now, can we please stop all of the "but Halladay is the better pitcher than Cliff Lee" arguments? We know he has been in the past. I would assume he will be in the future. But in 2008, he simply cannot be said to be better than Cliff Lee unless one resorts to some pretty anti-Occam arguments.
Twins 7, Royals 1: More BR-PI fun! Barring some blunder with the query terms -- which often happens when I'm pretending to be a statistical analyst -- it looks like unless Jimmy Gobble goes on a dominant run, he is going to finish the year with the highest ever ERA for a reliever who has pitched in more than 35 games in a season. Right now he's at 10.21, and there's no one even close to him.
Astros 7, Pirates 4: Any time Andy LaRoche (16 for 103 since being traded to Pittsburgh) wants to start hitting and prove all of us who slammed the Dodgers for not playing him earlier in the season right, well, he can be my guest.
Dodgers 7, Padres 2: Manny Ramirez has done everything asked of him and more since coming to Los Angeles. Two homers and four RBI last night. A 1.200+ OPS. A 3.5 game lead in the division.
Cubs 4, Cardinals 3: Ted Lilly pitches eight strong innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out five. While he's at it, he plows into one of the drones from the Molina collective, knocking him out of the game. But listen, and understand: more Molinas are out there. They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until there is one on every Major League roster.