1. The New Wild Card Leaders: The Mariners just keep on winning, and that has put them above the Yankees and Tigers for the wild card lead in the American League. Seattle just swept the Orioles to improve to 63-49, one game above those other teams. They won the series with offense, with 31 total runs and a 13-8 win on Thursday. Ichiro went 3-6 with 3 RBIs and had three hits in every game of the series. Rookie Adam Jones also joined in the fun with 3 hits and 4 runs. Starter Horacio Ramirez won despite allowing seven runs and five walks in five innings. Ramirez is 7-3 on the year despite a 7.12 ERA. Seattle is still close to the Angels, at 2.5 back, though if they make the playoffs it’s more likely they would do so via the wild card. And if the season ended today, that’s exactly what would happen.
2. Willie Saves the Day: The Braves were about to blow another game against the Mets. With a 7-3 lead entering the ninth inning, they allowed a two-run homer to David Wright and another run that put the Mets within one. The Carlos Delgado came up and hit a shot to leftfield that would have been a game-tying homer, but Willie Harris stretched over the wall and made a magnificent catch. The catch saved the game for the Braves, and now they are 3.5 games back in the division and just a half-game back in the wild card race. They continued their dominance of the Mets this season, with an overall 8-4 series lead. Atlanta has won every series against the Mets 2-1 this year. Thursday’s win was also fueled by their potent offense, as Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira hit back-to-back homers in the fifth. The Braves are the third-highest scoring team in the NL, behind only the Phillies and Rockies.
3. What an Embarrassment: The Tigers were supposed to get back on track with a four-game home series against the pitiful Devil Rays. With a 2-0 series lead, they blew the last two games, keeping them behind in both the division and wild card races. Jeremy Bonderman allowed five or more runs for his fourth start in a row, with 7 runs in 6 innings. He lost all four of those starts, and is now 10-5 with a 4.75 ERA. Meanwhile, Scott Kazmir of the Devil Rays shut down the Tigers’ offense, with six scoreless innings and seven strikeouts. Kazmir is now 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA since the All Star break. Also hot on the D-Rays is Carl Crawford, who went 3-4 with a homer and has six straight multi-hit games. The Devil Rays, though, are still far and away the majors’ worst team.
Player of the Day: Jacque Jones, Cubs: 4-5, 4 RBIs in a 10-2 win over Colorado.