1. Comeback Completed: Philadelphia has been catching up with New York for the past month. Finally, they are tied for the division lead. The shocked Mets have gone from obvious division favorites to possibly missing the playoffs. New York lost its fourth game in a row on Thursday in an embarrassing 3-0 home shutout to the Cardinals. Pedro Martinez, who has a 2.57 ERA since returning to the rotation, had eight strikeouts in a losing effort. He was outpitched by Joel Pineiro, who shut down the overrated Mets lineup with eight scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies topped the Braves for the second straight day. They scored six runs off John Smoltz, four in the first inning, as rookie Kyle Kendrick picked up his 10th win. Now the teams are tied at 87-72 for the division lead with three games to go. Both teams have an easy final series at home: the Phillies play the Nationals while the Mets face the Marlins. Whoever loses this division race will be in tough competition with San Diego for the wild card. Right now the Padres are a game ahead of both teams.
2. Hold on Loosely: Though the Padres have made a charge, the Diamondbacks continue to hold the NL West division lead. They won 8-0 against the Pirates on Thursday to keep them a game ahead of San Diego. Micah Owings pitched six scoreless innings while going 4-4 with 3 RBIs. The game’s best-hitting pitcher now has a ridiculous .339 average, which is far above everyone in their everyday lineup. Considering the fact that he’s an average starter, they should consider moving him to the outfield eventually. With the win the D-backs are one game shy of becoming the first (and possibly the only) NL team to reach 90 wins this season. Ironically, on paper they are actually the worst among the NL’s playoff contenders. The bullpen is solid and they have a true ace in Brandon Webb, but beyond that their other starters are mediocre and their lineup verges on dismal. Though they could potentially be the #1 seed in the NL playoffs, they will need luck on their side to advance.
3. Simply Unstoppable: The Rockies won their 11th straight game to stay one game behind San Diego in the wild card race. They beat the Dodgers 10-4 to finish off their second sweep of the Dodgers during the streak. Garrett Atkins went 4-4 with a homer and Brad Hawpe drove in three runs for Colorado. Seven of their 11 consecutive wins have come against the Dodgers, who have fallen to only one game over .500 for the season. The Rockies will face the D-backs at home in what will be a crucial final series for both teams.
Player of the Day: Phil Hughes, Yankees: 7 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts in a 3-1 win over the Devil Rays. The Yankees mathematically still have a shot at the division title, with the Red Sox’s magic number still at 2.