-Thanks to Milwaukee’s continued slide dropping a fifth straight falling 5-4 to the Cubs at Wrigley, the slumping Mets are still in playoff position half a game in front of the Brew Crew for the NL wild card. At this point, frantic Amazin fans will take it as long as it means October baseball. After giving a run back, Cubs closer Kerry Wood pitched out of a first and third jam by getting Brewer first base slugger Prince Fielder looking to move the Cubs within a couple of wrapping up the NL Central.
For Milwaukee who tried to get a ‘W’ for new interim skipper Dale Sveum, it was a blown opportunity as ace C.C. Sabathia was handed his first defeat and they wasted a two homer game from Fielder. A couple of weeks ago, it looked like they were a playoff lock and might even push the Cubbies for the division. Now, they’re fighting for their playoff lives against the NL East runner-up, the slumping Astros, fading Cardinals and possibly even the Marlins if they suddenly keep on winning as they did last night for a sixth straight win.
-Meanwhile, the Mets trail by half a game cause NL MVP candidate Ryan Howard slugged his major league leading 45th- a two-run shot on a full count with two outs in the eighth lifting the Phillies to a come from behind 8-7 road win over Atlanta. The Phillies’ first base slugger has caught fire this month doing everything he can to get his team another division title by hitting .396 with eight dingers and 22 RBI’s. In fact, the past four seasons, he leads the majors with 38 long balls in September. Still, the 2006 NL MVP has no clue as to why he heats up at the right time of the month:
â€œMaybe itâ€™s just the pennant races are heating up. Iâ€™m just trying to go out there and do what I can to help my team.â€
Whatever the reason, his teammates have to be very pleased because he’s coming up money. Last year’s MVP Jimmy Rollins has also come around at this key time batting .368 with a couple of homers, nine RBI’s, four steals and 11 runs scored. So, while Chase Utley and Pat Burrell remain MIA, Charlie Manuel can at least take solace knowing a couple of his best stars along with underrated gritty players Jayson Werth (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI’s, 3 R) Shane Victorino (3 hits, RBI) and even Carlos Ruiz (solo HR) are raking, he has to feel good about his team’s chances. Even if closer Brad Lidge made it interesting loading the bases on three walks before striking out pinch hitter Gregor Blanco to go for 37-for-37 in save opportunities in his first season with his new club.
-What can be said about the Mets when they couldn’t come up with one run against Odalis Perez in seven-plus innings? Not much. Apparently, they left their bats at Shea or are stuck in a time warp thinking it’s 2007 all over again. Thing is there’s still plenty of time to turn it around. But the best they can do is a split against baseball’s worst team after having scored one run in 18 innings. Not only did they not score last night despite a quality effort from Mike Pelfrey in which he went seven permitting one run which was enough to take a hard luck loss. But they also lost the services of surprise left fielder Fernando Tatis, whose diving attempt at a two out Perez double resulted in a separated right shoulder ending his season. Sadly, that missed catch led to a Nats’ two out rally as Willie Harris walked and then Met killer Christian Guzman’s ground rule double scored the only run of the game.
It was a half inning later that Harris would make the defensive play of the game robbing David Wright of a sure two-run go-ahead double ending the inning instead with a nice running over the basket catch. Now, I’m not a Met fan. But how come everytime I see highlights, Harris is always making some sorta defensive gem against them? You just gotta wonder.
-Congrats to Derek Jeter on breaking Lou Gehrig’s all-time home record with a single to left in the home first in the Yanks’ 6-2 loss to the White Sox. With this being the final homestand ever played at Yankee Stadium, Jeter will forever be the man who needed fewer games (more ABs) to beat out one of the all-time greats. With two hits last night, he’s up to 1,271 with still five games left with the finale closing out Sunday Night versus the Orioles. In as disappointing a season as his team’s had, at least Jeter continues to put forth the effort and give Yankee fans something to take with them as closing time approaches:
â€œItâ€™s kind of hard to enjoy it because we lost the game. But this is something that is pretty special. I mean, Iâ€™d be lying to you if I said it wasnâ€™t. Records are made to be broken, but this one at least will never be broken.â€
At least for once the elegant Yankee captain admitted that it meant a little extra. It should.
-I’ve heard a few Met fans call up WFAN and mock Jeter referring to most of those hits as singles and even a couple using “overrated.” Say what you will. But there has never been anything more ridiculous uttered about a shortstop who became the model of consistency and defines all the success the Yankees had when they weren’t a team full of superstars at every position. That’s what the Mike Lupicas of the world who’ll mention payroll till their death beds never seem to grasp. The old Yankee way saw them not always go for the top star and fill voids with underrated gritty performers such as Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez through trades when management actually let the real baseball people evaluate the farm and sell high.
Now, it’s become a circus where suddenly Melky Cabrera goes from starting center fielder to never to be seen again with only Brett Gardner getting every start down the stretch. This is really what you’re dealing with. I like Gardner and remember him here but why even have Cabrera back up if he’s not even going to get another chance? That btw opposes what Brian Cashman said at the time the struggling 24 year-old got sent down. I guess he’s already washed up.
-Kudos to the Rays for pushing across a run edging the Red Sox on Dioner Navarro’s walkoff to stay atop the AL East. That team has shown tremendous resiliency amidst all the injuries and pressure. What heart!
-You want a manager who should get axed. Look no further than what’s happened in Arizona where the D-Backs got out of the gate great but have fallen apart and now trail the Dodgers by four and a half on the verge of extinction. Bob Melvin had arguably the best pitcher in ace Brandon Webb and got Dan Haren along with a mostly healthy Randy Johnson. Plus they went out and got slugger Adam Dunn on the cheap to address the middle of the order. You would’ve thought it would be enough to stay afloat in such a poor division. Someone has to take the fall if they don’t put together a miraculous comeback.
-Is there any more dominant starter than the Giants’ Tim Lincecum? The former 2006 No.1 pick has been lights out on a subpar team with little offense posting a 17-3 record with a 2.43 ERA while pacing the bigs with 237 strikeouts. In his last outing, he went the distance three-hitting the Padres walking three and fanning 12 while throwing an unheard of 138 pitches. How did this happen? You mean a manager actually let their young pitcher stay in the game and finish it?!?!?!?!?! Well, it was his first ever complete game shutout. He had been going into the eighth a few times. Even more amazing is that on a team which has won 68 games, the 24 year-old has won five of his last six and six of his last eight decisions. In fact, his last defeat came on July 20 to Milwaukee giving up five earned including two dingers in five frames. He’s allowed only 10 long balls all year and just one since that outing.
Terrific Tim (Since 7/20)
10 GS, 6-0 Record, 72 IP, 44 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 1.75 ERA, 26 BB, 94 K’s+
+Struckout at least 10-or-more in five games
Note: Lincecum has eight games where he’s hit double digits this season.
Does it get any better than that? What happens when Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s Giants figure out how to win? Just how special can this kid be? Keep your fingers crossed.