The Full Count: Not so wild


1. Masters of the Wild: Usually the wild card races are extremely crowded even at this point in the season, but this year things are different. The Yankees and Padres both have a relatively big lead on the rest of the field, with leads of 4 and 2.5 games respectively. Both teams won on Tuesday. The Yankees won their sixth consecutive game 9-2 over the Blue Jays as Jason Giambi hit a grand slam and Jorge Posada also homered. Phil Hughes gave his second straight quality start after three poor starts in a row. The Padres beat the Dodgers 9-4 as Jake Peavy won his 17th game. Barring a late-season collapse, Peavy will win the NL Cy Young in addition to the pitching triple crown. He leads the league by a huge margin in every major category, giving the National League version of Johan Santana’s 2006. The Padres gained a game on the division-leading Diamondbacks with the win, and are now 2.5 back of them.

2. Low Tide: The Mariners, who were leading the wild card race three weeks ago, have suffered a huge string of defeats since then. They have lost 15 of their last 18 games, dropping them to 9.5 games back in their division and 6.5 back in the wild card. Their offense has cooled down since their early-August excellency, and their pitching staff has the second-worst ERA in the majors this month. The Mariners lost 7-4 to the A’s on Tuesday, as Jarrod Washburn was shelled for six runs and the offense failed to capitalize on 11 hits. The Mariners have played themselves out of the playoff race, though they could be a sleeper team for 2008.

3. Lead Retaken: After being tied with the Cubs as division leaders for a day, the Brewers pulled ahead with a 6-1 win combined with a Chicago loss. They beat the Pirates thanks to great pitching by Yovani Gallardo, who didn’t allow a run for his second straight start. Gallardo has allowed 2 runs in his last 20 innings pitched, and has become one of Milwaukee’s better starters. Prince Fielder hit his league-leading 44th homer in the win, and Ryan Braun had three more RBIs. The Cubs were beat 5-4 by Houston in 11 innings, dropping them to one game back. The Cardinals, now at four back after five consecutive losses, are becoming less and less of a threat.

Player of the Day: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins: 4-5, 2 HRs (28), 3 runs in a 13-8 win over the Nationals. Ramirez is having the best season of any player for a last-place team, with a .332 average, 28 homer, 46 steals, and a whopping .575 slugging percentage.

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