As gifts go, Pirates left fielder Starling Marte’s 9th Inning simple catching error gave St Louis the impetus to pull off a miraculous 14 Innings comeback to win 4 – 3. It keeps the heat between the two teams vying for the NL Central title and virtual fever pitch. If St Louis take the title by one game at the end of the season then sadly many will recall Marte’s disaster as a pivotal moment.
Ranger’s starter Yu Darvish produced a stellar pitching performance last night, striking out a career high 15 batters in the 2 – 1 victory over Houston. In what was close to being a shut out performance from the righty his command was impeccable, but it was the nasty breaking ball which really stood out. He’s now 4 – 1 with a 1.31 ERA since coming off the DL, and Texas have won nine of their last ten as they take a grip on the AL West title. Indeed, it’s easy to assume that they can virtually assure a play off berth given that their remaining 16 fixtures for August are all against sub .500 teams.
2 – Milwaukee
6 – Seattle
3 – Houston
3 – White Sox
2 – Minnesota
The only blemish in tonight’s performance was catcher AJ Pierzynski’s ejection for using a “bad word” to the home plate umpire.
As the Yankees continue to hang on to play off hopes by a thread, their exciting walk off win against the Tigers tonight 5 – 4 offered up more intrigue beyond the obvious excitement of the final score against one of their fiercest rivals.
Mariano Rivera gave up an unprecedented third blown save, and although coach Joe Girardi and fans may be inwardly concerned, one can’t see any possibility that there would be a change of closer during the regular season, unless he continues to struggle and it comes down to the wire. The possibility of play off baseball weighs far higher than sentiment.
After a mixed reception from Yankees fans on his return, Alex Rodriguez turned boo’s into cheers as he hit a home run and drove in two runs. Who says baseball fans are fickle? Maybe they see A-Rod’s inclusion in the team whilst he appeals the suspension by MLB’s drug enforcement agency as a vital cog in any possibility of play off baseball.
Not only was Brett Gardner’s first ever walk off home run a complete surprise, but did anyone notice who he passed his helmet to before the inevitable home plate celebrations…..? A-Rod ! If anyone told me the 3rd baseman had lost support from the locker room then Gardner’s small gesture of inclusion said more than any words could express.
As I watched Matt Greinke and the Dodgers demolish the Rays last night 5 – 0 it confirmed my view that by the end of August their place in the play offs will be pretty much sewn up. They are already the form team in MLB and of their next 22 games, only 4 are against teams with an above .500 record. Now the more suspicious Dodger fans will say the key may be the 7 games against the D-backs in September which will finally define the outcome of the regular season, but given their current form I believe their play off berth will be virtually secured before the final few weeks of the season.