1. Seattle Surprise: Many think the Brewers are the most surprising team this season, but that title should actually go to the Mariners. Milwaukee plays in the league’s easiest division, while Seattle plays in the rigorous American League but has still posted the fifth-best record in the majors. The Mariners won their 50th game on Thursday as they topped the Tigers 3-2. Their scoring came on an Adrian Beltre single that ended up scoring three runs due to bizarre baserunning. Beltre tried to advance to second after two runs had scored, then somehow got away, avoiding Carlos Guillen’s tag as he made it to third. Richie Sexson scored while this was happening, though Beltre was actually called out at third. The strange play scored enough runs to win the game, as Felix Hernandez pitched decently and the bullpen was almost perfect. The Mariners, who have won four straight, are now just two games back of the Angels in the AL West.
2. Ready for a Run: The Yankees’ season has been a disaster overall, but they still have a chance to compete. With five combined series against Tampa, Kansas City, and Baltimore over the next few weeks, their schedule is at its easiest. They started off this must-win stretch by besting the Devil Rays 7-3. The Yanks hit three solo homers in the fourth inning, including Alex Rodriguez’s 31st on the year. James Shields of the Devil Rays continued his slide by allowing six runs. He has gone 1-5 the last month and his ERA has risen by 0.94. With the win, the Yankees improved to .500 on the year, still ten games back on the Red Sox. They need to be in contention by mid-August, when they will face three first-place teams in a brutal two-week stretch.
3. The Rich get Richer: There is contract talk right now involving two of the league’s best players. Ichiro has agreed to a new contract, worth $100 million over five years. The All Star Game MVP will stay in Seattle until he is 39 years old under the new deal. A-Rod, meanwhile, has said he will not negotiate a contract extension with the Yankees during the season. He does have 3 years left on his mega-deal, but he can opt to become a free agent after this season. No matter who he signs with, Rodriguez could become the league’s first $30 million per year player.
Player of the Day: Jermaine Dye, White Sox: 3-5, 2 runs, HR (13) in a 9-7 win over the Orioles.