1. Coming out of Nowhere: Possibly the most underreported story of the year has been the random emergence of Devil Rays first baseman Carlos Pena. Despite playing on the league’s worst team, Pena has 37 homers (2nd in the league), 105 RBIs (4th), and a 1.014 OPS (3rd). All of those numbers rank higher than David Ortiz, Justin Morneau, and a host of other All Stars. Pena led the charge for the D-Rays on Wednesday with 2 homers and 7 RBIs in a 17-2 rout of the Orioles. Eight of Tampa’s nine starters had a multi-hit game, and they had 22 hits and 5 homers in all. The real story is Pena, who has 9 homers and 22 RBIs in his last 11 games. The D-Rays have won 8 of those 11 games, but are still the worst team in baseball. Pena’s play would warrant MVP consideration if he played on almost any other team in the majors.
2. The Terrific Tribe: After finishing in a disappointing fourth place last season, the Indians are rolling in first and have already passed their 2006 win total. They completed their second consecutive sweep of the Twins on Wednesday in a 6-2 win. Overall they finished 14-4 against the Twins this year, with four sweeps in six series. Fausto Carmona, who improved to 15-8 with the victory, has been a surprise standout for the Indians. Though his numbers rival CC Sabathia in most major categories (3.27 ERA vs. 3.24), he hasn’t generated nearly as much Cy Young talk. On offense, Travis Hafner has regained his swing with 13 RBIs his last 11 games. Victor Martinez knocked in his 100th RBI of the season and 400th for his career. Over all, the Indians are a whopping seven games ahead of the still-struggling Tigers, who led the division the majority of the season.
3. The Brewers are Back: The Brewers, who were awful in August and fell to third place, now have a chance to capture the division lead. They are only a half game back after winning 4 out of 5, and their upcoming schedule is as easy as it gets. They have multiple series against the worst teams in their division, playing Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Houston over the next two weeks. The Cubs’ schedule is just as easy, as they will not play a winning team the rest of the season. The Brewers just finished up a series with the Astros, which they won 2-1. On Wednesday, they hit five homers in a 14-2 victory. Prince Fielder went deep for the 41st time, which is second in the majors. Rookie of the Year lock Ryan Braun hit his 28th homer. Braun has 78 RBIs and a .334 average in 91 games this year. For Milwaukee, the victory was the 45th at home this year, the most in the NL and third-most in the majors. On the other hand, their road record is awful at 26-42.
Player of the Day: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 2-3, 2 HR (48), 3 RBIs (134) in a 10-2 win over Seattle. A-Rod continues to pad his numbers and remains the clear MVP favorite. The Yankees now lead the Mariners by three games in the wild card race.