Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants

Presenting: your first place Arizona Diamondbacks

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Well, tied for first place, but they got the mojo.

The Dbacks have won four in a row and the Giants have dropped five straight.  The last two in each of those streaks came against the other, and now the defending World Series champs are deadlocked with Arizona.  I don’t necessarily believe in “statement games” or “statement series” — they seem like talk radio creations — but it’s worth noting that the Diamondbacks’ last trip to San Francisco resulted in a Giants sweep and the Dbacks dipping seven games under .500.  Since that sweep they are 46-27.

We all got warm fuzzies when the Pirates flirted with contending for a week or so.  The Diamondbacks weren’t expected to be any good this year either, yet here they are.  Contending.  Competing against a Giants team that has lost its gravity lately.

The calendar is just turning to August and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, but this Giants-Dbacks series feels like the 2011 pennant race making its formal introduction.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.