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The Full Count: Two postseason slots officially filled


1. Lock it Up, Part 1: The Indians, who have the best record in baseball by a half-game, became one of the first two teams to clinch their division on Sunday. They beat the A’s 6-2, keeping their 7.5 game lead in the division with only seven games left to play. Grady Sizemore went 4-4 and Jake Westbrook had nine strikeouts as the Indians rolled once again. The Indians are one of three teams in baseball to rank in the top ten in runs scored and ERA–Boston and Atlanta are the others. This is the balance that has led the team to such success this season. Though slugger Travis Hafner has had a down year, Victor Martinez has established himself as perhaps the game’s best-hitting catcher. The rotation, with aces Fausto Carmona and CC Sabathia in addition to the resurgent Westbrook, rivals that of Los Angeles and Boston. Though the other AL playoff teams have received more attention, the Indians will be just as much of a force in the playoffs.

2. Lock it Up, Part 2: On the same day the Indians clinched the AL Central, the Angels locked up the AL West with their 92nd win. Fittingly, ace John Lackey picked up the win. It was the 18th victory of the year for Lackey, as he struck out 7 and allowed 2 runs in 7 innings. He is part of an Angels’ rotation that is just as balanced as the Indians’. With Kelvim Escobar and Jered Weaver joining Lackey, along with a superb bullpen, the Angels have one of the league’s best overall pitching staffs. They have had the lead in their division basically from the start of the season, holding off Seattle despite numerous charges by the pesky Mariners. Their division-clinching win on Sunday was in fact over the Mariners, who have put together a great season but are no match for Los Angeles. The Angels will now be vying for the top overall seed in the American League playoffs, though it doesn’t really matter considering every AL playoff team is a force to be reckoned with.

3. It’s (Almost) Over: Barring a spectacular collapse, the Cubs will be playoff-bound for the first time since 2003. They swept the Pirates over the weekend while the Brewers struggled with the Braves. This gave Chicago a 3.5 game lead, which will likely be impossible to pass for the near-cinderella Brewers. The Cubs are the only team even nearly deserving of a playoff spot from the NL Central. Their `big three’ in the lineup is one of the best in the NL with Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and Alfonso Soriano. More impressive is their pitching, which has five solid starters. Though many will likely write off the Cubs once they reach the playoffs, they actually have the tools to win the pennant. In a year where no team is even close to dominant in the NL, the Cubs could surprise everyone.

Player of the Day: Mike Mussina, Yankees: 7 innings, 3 runs, 5 strikeouts in a 7-5 win over Toronto. Mussina, who won his 250th career game, is 3-0 since returning to the rotation after temporary demotion. The Yanks are now 1.5 games back of Boston, though it doesn’t really matter who wins the division as both will make the playoffs.

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The Full Count: The real magic number is 1.5


1. One and a Half Games: Half of the MLB division leaders have a slim 1.5 games lead right now. The Cubs, Mets, and Red Sox are all holding on by this narrow margin. The Yankees and Red Sox didn’t play Thursday, but some of the other teams did. The Brewers lost a half-game to the Cubs as they fell 3-1 to Atlanta. Braves starter Jeff Bennett won in his first major league appearance since 2004. The Braves are virtually out of the playoff race, though with five straight wins they are ending their season on a good note. The NL East is between the Mets and Phillies. The Mets lost again, in a 10-inning contest with the Marlins. They had a three-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth, but Jorge Sosa blew the save. The Marlins piled up 21 hits, and 8 players in their lineup had at least two hits. The Phillies pulled out another victory, this one coming 7-6 over the Nationals. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth both homered for Philadelphia, who is 10-3 since September 8. These division races, which all seemed over at one point this year, are providing for an exciting end to the season.

2. Watch Out in `08: The Rockies, an underappreciated surprise story this season, will be a dark horse contender next year if they can get some pitching. They are 81-72 and in third place after sweeping the Dodgers in a four game series, knocking LA out of the playoff picture. Their offense has been second in the NL only to the Phillies, with nearly 800 runs. Matt Holliday is showing he can be a franchise player with a .339 average, 36 homers, and 131 RBIs. He has been unstoppable in the month of September, with 12 homers and 26 RBIs. 11 of those homers have come in the last 12 games, with the Rockies winning 8 of them. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki would be an easy choice for Rookie of the Year if Ryan Braun wasn’t playing so well. Tulowitzki has 22 homers and 90 RBIs, and has hit around .290. That dynamic duo along with Brad Hawpe (101 RBIs), Garrett Atkins (23-103), and Todd Helton provide for an incredibly deep offense that will be a force for years to come.

3. The New Best Team: It’s official: the Red Sox no longer have the league’s best record. That honor now goes to the Angels, who have quietly been crushing every team in their path this month. The 91-62 Angels have gone 17-8 since August 26, and will become the first team to clinch their division with one more win. They beat the second-place Mariners 9-5 on Thursday as superstar Vlad Guerrero hit his 26th homerun of the season. Guerrero also has a .326 average and 122 RBIs, good enough to place him third in the AL MVP voting behind A-Rod and Magglio Ordonez. The Angels, who are rolling into the postseason with momentum, will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

Player of the Day: JR Towles, Astros: 4-4, 3 runs, HR (1st career), 8 RBI in an 18-1 win over the Cardinals. Playing in only his sixth career game, Towles set a Houston record for single-game RBIs.

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The Full Count: Mets and Red Sox are trying to give it away


1. The Shrinking Lead, Part 1: On September 10, the Phillies were six games back in the division and just focused on the wild card. Now, they have closed the gap to only 1.5 games thanks to a six game winning streak along with the Mets’ five game losing streak. Now the Phillies have a realistic shot of winning the division. They beat the Cardinals in 14 innings on Tuesday. In a game that saw 19 combined pitchers but only 19 combined hits, the Phillies won 7-4. They scored three 14th-inning runs off Mike Maroth, who has an 11.25 ERA since joining the Cardinals. The Mets lost 9-8 to Washington, their second straight loss against the pitiful Nationals. Because their schedule for the rest of the year includes only Washington and Florida, the Mets still are the likely division champs. However, it would no longer be surprising if the Phillies overtook New York and won the division.

2. The Shrinking Lead, Part 2: Everyone thought the Red Sox had the division wrapped up months ago. But the Yankees, who were down 5.5 games only four days ago, have cut that gap to 2.5. They have won three in a row while the Red Sox have dropped their last three. The Yankees dominated the Orioles 12-0 on Tuesday, with Mike Mussina going for seven shutout innings. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano had three hits each in the rout, while Doug Mientkiewicz drove in four runs. The Red Sox, meanwhile, were topped for the second straight day by the Blue Jays, this time by a score of 4-3. AJ Burnett pitched brilliantly, going 8.2 innings with three runs and 11 strikeouts. Eric Gagne blew a save in eighth inning, ruining Jon Lester’s solid start. The Yankees have the schedule advantage compared with the Red Sox, as they face Tampa and Baltimore their last two series as opposed to Minnesota and Oakland. If New York wins the division, it will be either one of the greatest comebacks or collapses in league history, depending on your perspective. It really wouldn’t make a difference when it comes to playoff seeding, though, as the Red Sox would still likely win the wild card.

3. The Nonexistent Lead: Once again, the Brewers and Cubs find themselves tied for the NL Central lead. Milwaukee has won four straight to regain their share of the lead. The two teams together are the only division leader in baseball with less than 83 wins, with only 78 and 79, respectively. That still doesn’t make their race any less heated, as it has been back and forth for the last few weeks. The Brewers flattened the Astros 9-1, though ace Ben Sheets is out for an uncertain amount of time with a leg injury. the powerful Brewers had four homeruns. The Cubs lost 5-2, as ace Carlos Zambrano had his sixth loss in his last eight starts. Chicago does have the edge in the race as they only play terrible teams the remainder of the season, while the Brewers play Atlanta and San Diego.

Player of the Day: John Lackey, Angels: 8 innings, 1 run, 10 K’s in a 2-1 win over Tampa. Lackey is yet another AL Cy Young candidate, with a 17-9 record and 3.13 ERA.

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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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The Full Count: Can the Phillies overcome (being the Phillies)?


1. Wild Card Warriors: The Phillies are playing extremely well and have nearly caught up with the Padres for the wild card lead. After three straight wins, they are only 1.5 games back. They beat the Rockies 6-5 in a comeback victory. Down 5-2 in the seventh after a Matt Holliday homer, the Phillies tied the score off of Pat Burrell’s three-run shot. They won in the 10th inning thanks to Ryan Howard’s RBI double. Howard also hit his 38th homer earlier in the game. The Phillies haven’t gotten any closer to the Mets, who have four straight wins and lead the division by six games. However, they are the hottest team among the wild card contenders, with a 10-5 record their last fifteen games. That gives them a decent shot at making a playoff run.

2. Back to a Draw: The Brewers-Cubs division battle has been back-and-forth recently. After the Brewers took the lead on Sunday, their loss and the Cubs’ win on Monday has tied up the division again. The Cubs routed St. Louis 12-3, giving the Cardinals their fourth loss in a row. Ted Lilly, who is having an excellent season at 15-7 with a 3.85 ERA, picked up the win with a solid start. Chicago’s offense gave him plenty of help, as Aramis Ramirez went 4-5 with two homers and Derrek Lee had three hits and a homer. Meanwhile, the Brewers were crushed 9-0 by the pitiful Pirates. All five Brewers pitchers who appeared allowed a run, while the offense only mustered four hits. This division race, by far the closest in baseball, will be decided by which team can do better against poor opposition. Both teams have a remarkably easy schedule down the stretch.

3. Good News and Bad News: The Tigers had an up-and-down day on Monday. They beat the Blue Jays 5-4 with a four-run rally in the ninth inning. Magglio Ordonez went 4-5 and had the game-winning hit, and Curtis Granderson had two RBIs. On the other hand, they lost Jeremy Bonderman for the season. Bonderman, who had lost 7 of his last 8 decisions, has an elbow injury. It won’t require surgery, but it is severe enough to shut him down the rest of the year. The injury gives a reason for Bonderman’s struggles, as he had an 8.23 ERA his last ten starts after going 10-1 with a 3.53 ERA previously.

Player of the Day: Scott Kazmir, Devil Rays: 7 innings, 5 hits, no runs, 10 strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Boston.

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The Full Count: Hey, don’t forget about baseball


1. The Amazing A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez is having the best month of his incredible season so far in September. He has 8 homers and 15 RBIs in just eight games this month, including a home run in five straight games. Rodriguez now has 52 long balls this year, setting a new MLB record for a third baseman. He is the first Yankee to hit fifty homers in a season since 1961, and is only the fourth MLB player ever to record at least three fifty-homer seasons (Ruth, Sosa, and McGwire). If he remains hot he could record a 60-160 season, which only Ruth and Sosa have ever accomplished. Rodriguez helped the Yanks to a 6-3 win over the Royals, with Chien-Ming Wang picking up his 18th win. Wang remains tied with Josh Beckett for the major league wins lead. The Yankees swept the Royals for the second straight series, and they took 9 out of 10 games against KC this season. Barring a complete collapse they should win the wild card, as they have a four game lead over the inconsistent Tigers.

2. The Crazy Central: The NL Central lead changed hands once again, as the hot Brewers passed the slumping Cubs. Milwaukee has won 4 out of its last 5 games to retake their lead, which they have held the majority of the season. They beat the Reds 10-5 on Sunday thanks to six homers. Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks each went deep twice, with Braun recording his 30th homer in only 94 games. Ben Sheets improved to 12-4 despite allowing five runs, but he fared much better than Reds starter Phil Dumatrait. Dumatrait failed to record an out, giving up homers to Weeks, JJ Hardy, and Braun to lead off the game. He is 0-4 with a 15.00 ERA in six starts this year, making him perhaps the worst pitcher in baseball. Dumatrait has more runs allowed than innings pitched in all but one of his starts this season. The Brewers should be able to hold on to the division lead for a while, as they will face the three worst teams in their division (Pirates, Reds, Astros) in consecutive series.

3. D-Back Domination: Arizona is beginning to pull away in the NL West division, with five straight wins. They swept the Cardinals over the weekend, extending their lead to three games over the Padres. All three games were close, and the Diamondbacks relied on stellar bullpen play to win. On Sunday they won 6-5 thanks to a four-run rally in the seventh. Bob Wickman, who was acquired off waivers, pitched a scoreless inning in his debut for Arizona. The Diamondbacks continue to win despite a pitiful .248 team batting average and a mediocre bottom of the rotation. This is due mainly to their bullpen, which features four relievers who have below a 3.00 ERA. Arizona, who is tied for the NL wins lead at 81, is certainly the surprise story of the majors this season.

Player of the Day: Johan Santana, Twins: 7 innings, five hits, one run, 10 strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the White Sox. Santana ended a personal slump as well as a six-game losing streak for Minnesota.

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The Full Count: Wins leader is Chien-Ming Wang?


1. The Quiet Winner: Chien-Ming Wang is not a great pitcher, but, thanks mainly to the team he’s on, he’s racked up the most combined wins in baseball the last two seasons. Wang, after going 19-6 with a 3.63 ERA last year, is having a very similar season this year, at 17-6 and 3.68. His 17th win, tying him with Josh Beckett for the major league lead, came in the Yankees’ 12-3 blowout of the Mariners. Wang went 7-plus, allowing one run in his fourth consecutive win. He was supported in a big way by the Yankees’ offense, which pounded Seattle for 20 hits. Jorge Posada went 4-4 with four runs and two homers, raising his average to an elite .337. Bobby Abreu also had four hits and a homer, and Alex Rodriguez went deep again for the 46th time this year. The Yanks upped their wild card lead over the Mariners to two games with the victory. Both teams need the wild card, because they stand at seven games back in their respective divisions. It’s a shame that one of these clubs will be sitting at home during the postseason while a team from the NL Central is guaranteed a playoff spot.

2. Back in Contention: After losing 10 of 12 games in early August and falling as low as fourth place in the division, it seemed like the Dodgers’ season was nearly over. But now, thanks to a 7-2 run, Los Angeles is right back in the playoff picture. They have climbed to 3.5 back in the division and wild card races. The Dodgers continued their success with a 6-2 win over the Cubs on Tuesday. Ace Brad Penny returned to form after a bad start with seven shutdown innings. He improved to 15-4 on the year as the Dodgers received just enough offense for the victory. With David Wells added to fortify the pitching staff, the Dodgers have a legit shot at the playoffs.

3. D-back Attack: The Diamondbacks and
Padres are once again tied for the NL West lead. After San Diego won the first game of their series, the Diamondbacks routed them 9-1. Chris Young continued to struggle against Arizona, allowing 5 runs in 4 innings and losing his third straight decision. Young has a 7.32 ERA against the D-backs this season, compared with a 1.88 mark against the rest of the league. Eric Byrnes and Tony Clark both homered off Young as D-backs starter Doug Davis cruised to an easy victory. Davis, who allowed one run in seven innings, won his 13th game of the season, a career high. Over his career Davis has been the model of an average pitcher, with a 75-74 record and 4.30 ERA. This season, he has been better, and is the D-backs’ second-best starter only behind Brandon Webb. On Wednesday, the final game of this matchup for the season, Jake Peavy will pitch off three day’s rest against Livan Hernandez.

Player of the Day: Paul Lo Duca, Mets: 3-5, 2 HR, 7 RBIs in a 10-7 win over the Reds.

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The Full Count: Santana strikes out seventeen


1. The Strikeout Machine: Johan Santana has led the American League in strikeouts three straight years, but he’s never fanned as many batters as he did on Sunday. With an incredible 17 strikeouts in eight innings, Santana set a personal and team single-game record. He struck out the side three times, and had at least two strikeouts in seven different innings. Santana allowed only two hits, both to Sammy Sosa. He could have challenged the major league strikeout record of 20 if he had stayed in the ninth inning, but with 112 pitches he was removed. Joe Nathan had two K’s of his own as he recorded his 27th save. The Twins needed all the pitching they could get, scoring only one run on offense. In Santana’s last seven starts, they have scored more than four runs only once, continuing a yearlong trend of poor run support for their ace. Despite mediocre play by the Twins recently, they are still only six games out in the division thanks to struggles by the Indians and Tigers.

2. New York, New York: Both teams from the Big Apple are red-hot, as each reached 70 wins with wins on Sunday. The Mets completed a sweep of the Nationals, while the Yankees took three out of four from the Tigers. For the Mets, Orlando Hernandez had another excellent start, while Carlos Beltran powered the offense with two homers. Beltran, who has struggled mightily since a stellar April, now has five homers in his last nine games. The Mets took advantage of a poor weekend by the Braves and Phillies in extending their division lead to five games. Meanwhile, the Yankees are now four games behind Boston after a 9-3 win on Sunday combined with a Red Sox loss. Hideki Matsui had three more RBIs, while recently acquired Wilson Betemit knocked in four runs. After the Tigers won the first game of this series on Thursday, the Yanks dominated with three wins in a row by a combined 20-6 score. Unfortunately for Detroit, they will face the Yankees four more times later this week. The Yankees’ first series with the Red Sox since June is coming up on August 28.

3. Moving up without playing: The Cubs encountered a unique situation on Sunday. Despite their game against the Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball being rained out, they still managed to capture the lead in the NL Central division. That was due to another loss by the Brewers, who fell 7-6 to the Reds in a crazy game. Despite a poor start by ace Aaron Harang, the Reds came back thanks to homers by Adam Dunn and Brandon Phillips, as well as a go-ahead pinch-hit double by Javier Valentin. For Brewers starter Chris Capuano, it was his 16th straight start in which the Brewers lost. That is approaching the major league record of 18, set way back in 1912. Milwaukee hasn’t won in one of Capuano’s starts since May 8, when he was 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA. Since then he has lost ten decisions and his ERA has risen by three. The Brewers have given up a once-huge division thanks to a 7-20 record since July 25.

Player of the Day: Johan Santana, Twins: 8 innings, no runs, two hits, 17 strikeouts in a 1-0 win over the Rangers.

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The Full Count: Brewers going down the drain


1. Collapse of the Brewers: The Milwaukee Brewers may still lead the division, but at the rate they’re going now, it won’t be for much longer. They lost 8-0 on Thursday to the Cardinals, their fourth loss in a row. Adam Wainwright had one of his best starts of the year for St. Louis, with seven scoreless innings and eight strikeouts. Catcher Yadier Molina pounded two homers, despite coming into the game with one the entire year. The Brewers were swept by the Cardinals, who are now only 2.5 games back. The Cubs haven’t been great recently either, but they trail by only a half game. The Brewers, who have been outscored this season, are only 4-10 in August, and it’s looking like they will give up their division lead in the near future.

2. Desert Dominance: Like the Brewers, the Diamondbacks have been outscored for the season. That is where the similarities end, however. Arizona has the National League’s best record at 69-53, and is 10-4 this month. They have a three game lead over the second place Padres in the division. The D-Backs wrapped up a series win over Florida with a 5-4 victory on Thursday. It was a typical win for them–decent but not great starting pitching, hitting that just gets the job done, and great work by the bullpen. Despite their 22-10 record since the All Star break, the Diamondbacks still haven’t been great statistically in that span. They’re batting .250 with a 4.23 team ERA since the break, in fact. Sooner or later, those poor statistics will catch up with them. For now, though, the Diamondbacks appear to be on cruise control.

3. The Showdown Begins: The Tigers and Yankees hadn’t seen each other all year before Thursday, but they are scheduled to play two four game series in two weeks. The Tigers won the first battle of the majors’ two highest-scoring teams, handing the Yankees their third straight loss. Detroit’s 8-5 win was fueled by six runs in the first two innings, including a grand slam by Carlos Guillen in the first. Justin Verlander pitched well enough for his 13th win. The Tigers and Yankees now have identical 67-54 records this year, with the Tigers a half game ahead in their division and the Yankees a half game behind in the wild card. The Yanks have dropped to 5.5 games back in the division thanks to two inexcusable losses to Baltimore earlier this week.

Player of the Day: Mark DeRosa, Cubs: 5-5, 4 RBIs in a 12-4 win over Cincinnati. DeRosa was one of three Cubs to put up at least four hits in this blowout.

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The Full Count: WIld Card race is starting to matter


1. It’s Getting Wilder: Finally we have reached that point of the season where the wild card standings are starting to take shape. Right now, both leagues have wide-open chases, with the American League wild card being the closest. Three teams–the Tigers, Yankees, and Mariners–are separated by just one game. The Tigers ended their losing streak on Monday with a 6-4 win over the Devil Rays. The Yankees kept the heat on Detroit, remaining a half-game back with their fourth straight win. The Tigers are also within a half-game of division leader Cleveland, which means the Yankees might have to deal with the Indians in the wild card chase eventually. In the National League, an incredible six teams are separated by three games. San Diego is leading right now, with Atlanta a close second. The Dodgers, Cubs, Phillies, and even the Rockies all are close as well. While last year’s wild card races weren’t very close in September, this year they should go right down to the finish.

2. The Cubs’ Bad Day: It was a bad day for Chicago baseball fans. First, Alfonso Soriano was put on the disabled list due to a tear in his quad. He is expected to miss almost a month of action because of the injury, which occurred while Soriano was running the bases in Sunday’s game against the Mets. To make things worse, the Cubs lost in extra innings to the pitiful Astros. One of Rich Hill’s better starts was ruined as backup catcher Eric Munson hit a game-winning single in the tenth. Houston closer Brad Lidge came off two poor outings to get the win, and starter Wandy Rodriguez continued his up-and-down season with a great effort. The Cubs are still only a game back of the Brewers for the division lead. However, the Cubs aren’t playing nearly as well as they were a couple weeks ago, and now they have lost one of their best offensive players for a while.

3. Who’s #1?: The best two teams in baseball, the Red Sox and the Angels, are playing a series in Anaheim this week. The Angels took the first game, 4-2, after Jered Weaver outpitched Curt Schilling. In Schilling’s return from the DL, he allowed four runs in six innings to raise his ERA to 4.31. Weaver, coming off two outings of six runs allowed, just gave up two as his ERA dipped back to 3.94. The Red Sox and Angels, with 68 and 65 wins respectively, are far and away the best two teams in the majors. They will meet in a couple of weeks for a four-game series at Boston, and there could also be a rematch in the playoffs.

Player of the Day: Paul Byrd, Indians: 9 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs in a 4-0 win over Minnesota. The 10-4 Byrd has the fewest walks among all MLB starters with just 16 in 135 innings this year.