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.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

Elsa/Getty Images
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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.