The Milwaukee Brewers cannot be stopped and I’m near certain there’s nothing the St. Louis Cardinals can do about it. They have picked a wonderful time to play their best baseball, as the Brew Crew are winners of six straight and 19 of their last 21. It kind of feels like one of those vintage late summer runs that Billy Beane’s A’s used to pull off so frequently back when they owned the AL West. In last night’s 3-1 win over the Dodgers, Zack Greinke pitched excellently, going seven innings and striking out eight with his only mistake coming off the bat of Tony Gwynn’s son. Jerry Hairston Jr drove in two runs because these are the Brewers, everyone contributes with a chip or two. Luckily for them, in addition to holding a commanding seven game lead, the three teams they’ll toy with before meeting St. Louis at the end of the month are the Mets, Cubs and Pirates. Yes, the champagne and 16 oz. cans of beer are already on ice.
Rangers 4, Angels 3 — Ian Kinsler hit a soul crushing two-out single in the eighth that brought in two runs to break a 2-2 tie. Perhaps Ervin Santana was in the game too long? I commend him for honoring Al Leiter and throwing 129 pitches, but I’m guessing his best stuff was well behind him at that point. This four-game set at home was a ripe opportunity for the Angels to do some damage, but it’s been a disaster. They turn to Scooby-Doo character Jered Weaver tonight to stop the carnage, avoid an embarrassing sweep, and most importantly keep his team from falling eight games back.
Royals 5, Yanks 4 — Billy Butler hit a ball off the wall in left field that was incorrectly ruled a home run both on the field and after being reviewed. It was such a bad call Mariano Rivera nearly got thrown out of the game for berating the ump from the dugout. Glass half full? At least when the umps are wrong, they’re consistently wrong. Glass half empty? If the Yankees lose the AL East by one game, expect fans in Kansas City to consider the 2011 season meaningful. Here’s Billy Butler: “I guess from the angle some guy saw, they didn’t think it was good. But (umpires) have the final call. That’s why they make the judgment call.” It’s informative quotes like this one that inspire me to read game recaps aloud each and every morning. The More You Know.
Rays 4, Red Sox 0 — Holding the Red Sox to three hits at Fenway Park is next to impossible, but the Rays have done it for the last three games. Kyle Farnsworth pitched a flawless ninth. Looking at his numbers is quite the numbing experience. Truly stunning. BJ Upton was 2-for-4 with a home run. I would say he loves playing in Boston, but I’m probably just thinking of the 2008 ALCS when he basically owned the joint.
Phils 9, D-Backs 2 — Just another day at the park for Cliffy: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Did anyone catch him busting it up the line to try and beat out a throw, which he nearly did? It’s very difficult not to enjoy the way this guy operates in all facets of the game. Awesome player. On that very play, ESPN’s Pedro Gomez was creepin’ in the camera pit. Haunting:
Giants 7, Braves 5 — Remember when Jar Jar Jurrjens was not only an NL Cy Young candidate, but deemed a leading NL Cy Young candidate by overeager Braves fans? Hilarious. He gave up five runs on eight hits. Four of his last five starts have been abysmal. Meanwhile, Giants closer Brian Wilson has an “ailing” right elbow and flew to Florida to have it checked out by… eh, you already know his name. He’s the doctor to every pitching elbow in the entire world. Right here is where I say it’s all falling apart for the defending World Champs.
A’s 6, O’s 5 — Wearing the dunce cap today for the Orioles is starting pitcher Alfredo Simon. That was one hell of a start, Alfie. But onto more important things like… when Michael earned Marlo’s respect:
Impressive Stats: Justin Verlander is 14-2 with a 1.60 ERA and 130 strikeouts to just 21 walks over his last 16 starts. The only pitchers since 1970 to reach 18 wins, 200 innings pitched, and 200 strikeouts by August 16 are Curt Schilling, Steve Carlton, Vida Blue, Fergie Jenkins, Mickey Lolich, and now Mr. Verlander.