Watch out for the big Redbird machine

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cardinals_090820.jpgDon’t look now, but the St. Louis Cardinals have the largest division lead in all of baseball.

Thursday’s victory over the Padres, combined with the Dodgers’ whomping of the Cubs (thanks in part of Russell Martin’s grand slam) have upped the Cards’ lead to 7 games.

(Check out the standings here)

The Cards are hot, no doubt about it, having just come off a winning series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Now you might knock their schedule of late, as they’ve faced the Pirates, Reds, and Padres before the Dodgers. And now, the Padres again. In those games, St. Louis is 11-2.

Rip the schedule all you want, but good teams do tend to beat up on bad ones. And bad teams, well, they do whatever the Cubs are doing.

With the Cubs trying to figure out how to blame it all on a goat, the Brewers having essentially thrown in the towel at the trade deadline, and the Astros breaking new ground in sleepy-eyed mediocrity, a division that looked pretty tight only a couple weeks ago is suddenly taking on the characteristics of a runaway.

Is it over? Of course not. But even Bluto Blutarsky is beginning to have his doubts.

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If you Twitter, and think photos of a grousing Jamie Moyer are amusing, you can follow me at @Bharks.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.