Times are getting tough for baseball fans with high blood pressure. We have a few highly interesting division races. Check out the AL East, the AL Central, the NL East, and the NL Central. All have some fantastic budding storylines. But, first, gander over Wednesday's edition of The Daily Dose.
* CC Sabathia took his first loss as a member of the National League Tuesday after the Cubs got to him with four runs over seven innings. He wasn't terrible, walking none and striking out five, but it surely wasn't the CC that us who follow the NL Central have come to know. The Cubs have a great lineup. He was bound to have a mediocre start. This can be written off, right? It's the world of sports. No one's perfect. You've heard the stats: Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots in his career. He was trusted to take the game winning shot 26 and times and failed. CC is human and humans make mistakes. That start has nothing to do with the 231 1/3 innings Sabathia has amassed this season nor the way he's been pushed as a Brewer (six complete games). right?
Sabathia pitched 241 innings in 2007 and didn't seem to fade down the stretch. In 2006, things got a little ugly in September, but his last start, on September 26, was an eight-inning scoreless gem. Of course, in '07 he was asked to pitch just four complete games the entire season. Like I mentioned above, in his short tenure with the Brewers, he has tossed six. Sabathia has thrown less than 100 pitches in an outing just three times as a National Leaguer. He has gone over 120 in three starts. These numbers are scary. Maybe it's safe to question the big man's workload. Can he be relied on in October if he's already fading in mid-September? Are we reading too much into this?
Let's look north, to Sabathia's former team. The Indians got the best of another seemingly unhittable pitcher last night, Francisco Liriano. He was 5-0 and had not surrendered more than two runs in a start this season. Tuesday night, the Tribe put up eight tallies on the poor guy in just 2 2/3 innings. Liriano was far too hittable early in the game and couldn't find the strike zone once the carnage began. See? Bad things happen to good people. Let's write both these starts off and move on, as if Tuesday night never even happened. I'm not sure this column can get much more clich at this point, but I'll give it a shot: The only things certain in life are death and taxes. A pitcher's statistics? Come on. That's like asking for consistency from the weather man.
* Ryan Howard went a little nuts Tuesday night: 4-for-5 with three RBI, including a triple and a two-run dinger. He missed the cycle by a double. The triple was his third of the season, a new career high for Howard. He has 22 RBI in September and 136 on the year. Oh, and the Phillies are back in first place. With the Mets and Brewers losing on Tuesday, it seems the Phillies are staking a claim for a playoff spot. They hold a half game lead in the NL East and a full game in the Wild Card standings. If the season ended today, the Phillies and Mets would enter the playoffs with the Brewers looking on from the outside. Most teams have between 11 and 13 games left to play, so it'd be dumb to overlook anybody. That's why I'll mention that the Astros, yes, the Houston Astros are down just three games in the Wild Card standings. They've lost three straight but the 'Stros know a thing or two about late season comebacks.
Things are still pretty frisky up in the AL East, where the Rays jumped back into first place with a dramatic win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night. Dioner Navarro hit a bases-loaded drive over a drawn-in Coco Crisp to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The Rays have two less losses than the Sox with 13 games to play. Each team has 89 wins. It's a tight race, but the team that loses this race will easily snag the American League Wild Card.
AL Quick Hits:Derek Jeter surpassed Lou Gehrig for the most all-time hits at Yankee Stadium . Erik Bedard will undergo exploratory surgery on his left shoulder next week . The Indians have shut down Anthony Reyes for the remainder of the season . Jason Bay could be out until Friday for the birth of his child . Delmon Young might require offseason surgery . Andy Pettitte lost a fifth straight start Tuesday . Carlos Guillen could be shut down for the rest of the season if his back does not improve soon . Mark Ellis will undergo surgery to repair cartilage damage in his shoulder . B.J. Upton could be available to pinch-hit soon . Carl Crawford has a timetable for late September or early October . Hideki Matsui will have surgery on his right knee, but will first play in Sunday's game . Dallas Braden is likely to miss the rest of the season with a groin strain . Boof Bonser is available to pitch again after being sidelined a few days with a lower back strain . Milton Bradley had a cortisone shot in his left wrist and will be out a few days . Athletics recalled outfielder Travis Buck . Vladimir Guerrero is expected back in the lineup on Wednesday or Thursday . Jose Bautista made his first start at second base since 2006 n Tuesday night . Chris Waters tossed a complete game shutout . Ryan Sweeney had his second four-hit game of the year Tuesday . Jarrod Washburn returned the mound as a reliever on Tuesday.
NL Quick Hits:Yovani Gallardo could be activated this weekend after a successful simulated game on Tuesday . Jeff Francis will be shut down for the rest of the season . Roy Oswalt struck out ten batters on Tuesday night . Jesus Flores is likely out for the rest of the season . Conor Jackson may be cleared to pinch-hit by the end of this week . Kaz Matsui returned to the Astros' starting lineup for the first time since August 12 . Dan Haren tossed his first complete game shutout on Tuesday . Jack Wilson is hoping to rejoin the starting lineup on Sunday . David Riske is done for the season following surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow . Josh Bard is done for the year with a strained right triceps . Fernando Tatis is out for the rest of the season with a separated shoulder . Hong-Chih Kuo has been shut down for a couple of days with elbow soreness . Luis Rodriguez is dealing with a right triceps strain . Jose Reyes is in the midst of a huge September slump . Nate Schierholtz is out a couple days with soreness in his right shoulder and pectoral muscle . Troy Glaus returned to the Cardinals' starting lineup . Prince Fielder has just 90 RBI this season . Chris Iannetta hit his first career grand slam on Tuesday night . Stephen Drew returned to action after missing a few days for his grandmother's funeral.