Eric Gagne proves to be human, blowing ANOTHER save last night as the Dodgers fell to the Marlins. Gagne's save percentage has now "plummeted" to 98% over his last 100 save chances. L.A. should get rid of him while they can!
Congratulations to Harold Baines for earning his first victory as a manager, thanks to a White Sox win over Detroit last night. Ozzie Guillen was suspended for 2 games and Baines took over in the interim.
For those of you who don't live on the West Coast and go to sleep at a normal hour, Padres pitcher Jake Peavy turned in another masterful performance, this time at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. Peavy gave up 1 earned run, 2 hits, no walks, and struck out 9 over 7 innings. On the season, over 18 starts, Peavy has pitched 5+ innings and allowed 2 or less earned runs in 17 of them!
In case you weren't paying attention, the Chicago White Sox officially jumped the shark the day they signed Roberto Alomar, mimicking last year's late season deals when GM Ken Williams picked up Carl Everett and Alomar. It didn't work last year and it isn't working this year, but at least Williams is trying, right? Right?
Let's focus on a team that deserves some recognition this year, even though I rarely talk about them: the Cleveland Indians. In the preseason, I predicted a last place finish for the Tribe (oops), but here they are in mid-August fighting for the division title.
I underestimated the talents of Cleveland's young players, led by the sensational catcher Victor Martinez. The pitching staff is inconsistent but talented enough to win any game. With Howry and Wickman settling into their late inning roles, the bullpen has become more stable. Cleveland leads the league in runs scored, and if their young pitchers keep them in the game on a daily basis, they just might be playing in October.
Honk! Honk! That's the sound of me tooting my own horn as I successfully predicted the outcome in EVERY game in the Cubs-Padres series. A quick read of my entry on 8/10 proves my ability as a soothsayer.
Mark Prior may be in the rotation consistently now, but he is still nowhere near the pitcher he was last year. Prior hasn't really put together two dominant outings in a row all year (the closest was a 3 run, 5 inning stint one start after a 5 inning shutout performance, but a 5.40 ERA is not dominant), so it was no surprise to TCO that, after dominating the Rockies in Colorado last week, San Diego was able to dispose of number 22 quite easily last night.
If the Cubs sneak into the playoffs, it could be a real crapshoot starting Prior while the more consistent Matt Clement looks on. Prior is a top level talent and had pinpoint control from day one, so his health is likely the primary reason for his struggles, which should make Dusty Baker's playoff rotation an interesting thing to watch if it gets to that point.
For those of you thrilled with the wild card format, one series to watch this week is the Cubs vs. Padres, starting today. There's still plenty of baseball left, but the Padres need to win these types of games if they want to stay in the hunt. My prediction: the Padres win two out of three, losing the middle game to Carlos Zambrano.
In first place less than two weeks ago and seemingly in control of the division, the Chicago White Sox have just about put their playoffs hopes to rest with a horrible display of baseball the past couple weeks. They now find themselves 6 games back in the division, and 5 back in the wild card race. While not an insurmountable deficit, the Sox are without their two big hitters (Ordonez and Thomas), and if they are losing ground while playing the bottom feeders of the division (Detroit and KC), they certainly can't be expected to make up ground when playing against tougher competition.