With just over a week of regular-season baseball remaining, the playoff picture is coming into focus. Both the Rays and Cubs clinched postseason spots on Saturday night, and those two teams join the Angels as clubs that are guaranteed a spot in the October competition.
This is great news for fans of those squads, but not necessarily for fantasy owners who happen to depend on those teams' players. With a playoff spot guaranteed, managers will be more inclined to play it safe and rest up their stars as the season winds down. This is especially true for players who have been bothered by injuries here late in the season, so if you're counting on Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Chone Figgins, B.J. Upton or Troy Percival to get you over the hump, be wary.
On to some notes from around baseball.
* Andy Pettitte allowed three runs - two earned - over five innings while Johnny Damon and Jose Molina each delivered homers to help send the Yankees to a victory in their final game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The House That Ruth Built has been home to some 85 years' worth of baseball games, and has seen some pretty historic moments and feats - including a 14-year stretch of a postseason appearances for the Yankees, though that streak is almost certain to end this year.
Even for those who grow tired of America's endless love-fest with the Bronx Bombers, it's hard not to find something sad in the fact that Yankee Stadium, which has played host to some of the greatest games in postseason history, will be not be a part of the October festivities in its final year of operation.
* Joey Devine tossed a scoreless ninth inning against the Mariners on Sunday to pick up his first career save. While Brad Ziegler, who got most of Oakland's save chances this year, was the big national story in the A's bullpen thanks to his career-opening 38-inning scoreless streak, but Devine has been phenomenal. He has posted a 0.62 ERA and 48-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 43 2/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .151 batting average.
Ziegler has had a fantastic year and is a reliable option out of the bullpen thanks to his extreme ground ball tendencies, but Devine is the more dominant of the two and may profile as a better closer. In Sunday's game, Ziegler handled the eighth inning while Devine was called upon to slam the door in the ninth. This may be a preview of things to come.
* By reaching his 1,100th plate appearance since the beginning of the 2007 season on Sunday, Jim Thome's vesting option for 2009 officially kicked in, guaranteeing him $13 million next season. He remains a productive hitter at age 38. Even though his .246 batting average this year is the lowest he's ever posted over a full season, he continues to hit homers and draw walks, and his back problems haven't been an issue since he's come over to Chicago, which has to please the White Sox and give them confidence going forward into the final year of his contract.
AL Quick Hits:David Price will make his first major-league start against the Orioles tonight . Joe Saunders will miss his scheduled start on Tuesday due to kidney stones . After starting his career with two straight scoreless outings, Scott Lewis gave up his first runs on Sunday but still recorded his third straight victory . Francisco Liriano bounced back from a rough start his last time out to hurl seven innings of one-run ball on Sunday . Lyle Overbay was removed in the sixth inning of Sunday's game due to discomfort in his right hand . John Lackey struck out 12 over six shutout innings while picking up his 12th win on Sunday.
NL Quick Hits:Chad Gaudin worked a hitless inning Sunday in his first appearance since August 29 . Adam LaRoche left Sunday's game with a sore hamstring and is considered day-to-day . Roy Oswalt was removed after 79 pitches on Sunday and may pitch on three days' rest on Thursday if the game holds playoff implications . Damion Easley made a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday despite his manager saying three days earlier that he was a week away from being ready to do so . J.A. Happ will start in place of Kyle Kendrick tonight . Jeff Kent has been activated from the disabled list, but will be limited to pinch-hitting duties for the rest of the year.