August 28, 2007

MLB Notebook 8/28

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

With the wild card races really starting to heat and developments cropping up every day it seems, I would be remisce to not mention a few every once in a while.

Chase Utley’s back and with a bang. The Phillies second baseman that had been sidelined with a broken hand for over a month now, made his return last night; he did it in style as well. Utley had three hits, one being a home run, to lead Philly over the Mets in an intense NL East showdown. The Phils are going to need Utley up to top speed if they really want to catch the Mets (six games behind) and the Padres (three games behind in the wild card).

While the NL wild card race may have more contenders involved together, the AL race has a few teams tightly packed together, sardine-style some might say. But last night the Yankees didn’t really play up to their full potential, getting pounded 16-0 by the Tigers. Mike Mussina got rocked, giving up six runs in three innings or less for the third start in a row. Some are starting to question if the Moose should lose his spot in New York’s rotation and while there are two schools of thought here, I’d have to agree that he has to straighten out a bit before his next start. If one of your key pitchers is misfiring in the middle of a key point in the season, it can really hurt a team more than usual. At least the Mariners lost in Anaheim, keeping the dificiet at two games.

In non-wild card news, the Houston Astros went on a binge and cleaned house. Manager Phil Garner and some of his staff have been let go by the organization who have really gone downhill since losing the 2005 World Series to the White Sox (who have also landed in a severe rut. Coincidence?). The 58-73 may only be nine games out of the NL Central race, but with a roster that has the talent of theirs, that mark could very well be flipped. It also goes to show how weak the NL Central is when a team is 15 games below 500 and is still only nine games out. Put it this way, if the Astros were competing against the AL East leading Red Sox, they would be 23 games behind and Garner would’ve been canned about a month earlier.

And in “This is going to make my job a lot harder” news: The MLB have given notice to umps to try as hard as possible to get games in instead of calling them because of silly things like rain. This could mean a lot more late night romps like the Yankees-Tigers game last week that ended at nearly 3:30 a.m. because of a four-plus hour rain delay before the opening pitch. While rain outs can put a damper on playoff races, seriously, who wants to stay up to watch a game that late? It’s utterly ridiculous.

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