The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: Both the Yankees and Red Sox lose. New York stays ahead of Boston by two and a half.

The skinny: The Yankees, who just hosted Baltimore, now go down to Baltimore today for a makeup game. I’m sure everyone is thrilled to see these two play yet another game. All they need is rain. Oh, wait, there’s some in the forecast? Fabbo!

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers beat Cleveland again and the Sox lose. Make that lead nine over Chicago, nine and a half ahead of Cleveland.

The skinny: As long as no other playoff team is able to (a) trade for Shelley Duncan; and (b) circumvent playoff roster rules in a manner that allows him to play in the postseason, Detroit looks pretty good at the moment.

AL WEST

The spread: Rangers lose, Halos win, Texas’ lead is back down to two and a half.

The skinny: Both teams are off today, giving them time to contemplate how they have remained so close this season.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies beat the Braves — again — and are now ten and a half up.

The skinny: The Braves are a disaster at the moment and, after a Hurricane Irene-inspired double header today, they head to St. Louis for a three-game series against a Cardinals team that is suddenly only six and a half back in the wild card.

NL CENTRAL

The spread: Cards beat the Brewers — they took five of six from them in the two recent series — and are eight back with 19 to play.

The skinny: As noted above, sweep the wounded Braves and we’ll have an interesting wild card race on our hands.

NL WEST

The spread: Diamondbacks win, Giants lose, and the snakes have a seven-game lead again.

The skinny: The Dbacks play 13 of their last 19 at home.

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.