Seven teams completed series sweeps today.
- The Blue Jays leap-frogged the Red Sox pushing them to the cellar in the AL East Division by one game in the loss column.
- The Orioles dropped the Indians, a Wild Card rival, a game below .500 and improved to 9-8 since the June 30th trade for Jim Thome. However, the Orioles deficit in run differential also increased from minus-26 to minus-44 during that same time.
- Similarly, the Mets are now a game below .500 after being swept by the Dodgers, who now trail the Giants by 1.5 games for the NL West Division crown, and the Braves by one game for the second and final NL Wild Card.
- The Reds and Pirates kept pace with one another by sweeping their respective opponents, the Brewers and Marlins. The Reds maintain a slim half game lead over the Bucs.
- The Tigers seized the AL Central Division lead away from the White Sox, who are now also a game behind for the AL Wild Cards.
- Probably the unlikeliest sweep of the weekend though was the Athletics over the visiting Yankees. The A’s edged the Yankees by one-run in each of the four games in their series. The opening game of the series was decided in the bottom of the ninth, and today’s finale was decided in the bottom of twelfth.
I’m not yet sold on the A’s as a playoff contender this season. Their offense is ranked last in the AL in batting average, and next to last in the AL in OPS. Conversely, their pitchers have given up the fewest hits in the AL, and also lead the AL in ERA and WHIP. It will be interesting to see A’s GM Billy Beane’s approach as the July 31 trade deadline draws closer.
I’m also not ready to pronounce the Red Sox dead either. Their lineup is simply too potent and still getting healthy. Eventually Beckett and Lester will start to pitch like aces again too, right? The Red Sox need their aces to be aces, or they need to trade for an ace. The only real true ace who may or may not be available on the trade market is Cole Hamels. The Phillies though are working on a contract extension to retain Hamels. If the Phillies are successful in doing so, they might consider making pitcher Cliff Lee available in a trade. Another difference maker is the Mariners ace Felix Hernandez but GM Jack Zduriencik has steadfastly maintained that he will not even consider trading King Felix. Prying Hernandez from the M’s though is exactly the type of bold move the Red Sox need to make to salvage this season.
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