51° Good Morning
51° Good Morning

A big Yankees win, another Mets loss, a Phillies-Giants brawl and deer antler spray

First of all, here are your new playoff brackets:

AL: Yankees (1) vs. Detroit (3), Texas (2) vs. Boston (4)

NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. San Francisco (3), Milwaukee (2) vs. Atlanta (4).

Thoughts: Yeah, the Yankees have the top seed at the moment, which begs this question for Yankees fans: Would you rather have homefield advantage in the Division Series and face the Tigers, who have a dominant starting pitcher (Justin Verlander, of course) they can throw twice in five games? Or would you rather start out on the road against Texas, which is very good but which doesn't have that one fearsome starter?

If you're feeling a sense of deja vu, it's because we were asking a similar question last year, only the team with the ace was Texas with Cliff Lee and the ace-less team with homefield advantage was Minnesota. The Yankees captured the wild card, which allowed them to sweep past the Twins in the Division Series while the AL East-winning Rays went down to Lee and the Rangers in five games - with Lee winning Games 1 and 5.

Of course, this is a moving target. Detroit currently trails Texas by two and a half games, and the Rangers appear to have the more difficult divisional foe in the Angels, so the Tigers could wind up climbing over the Rangers (or Angels) for the second seed. But if the Angels, with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, overtake Texas for the AL West title? Then you'd probably prefer the Tigers.

In the NL, meanwhile, the Brewers climbed over the Giants, setting up a first-round matchup between Philadelphia and San Francisco. Undoubtedly, TBS would prefer a Phillies-Giants NL Championship Series, so they'll root for the Giants to take back that second seed. 

--Indeed, it was arguably the biggest win of the season for the Yankees, who outlasted the Red Sox even though Bartolo Colon lasted just 4 2/3 innings

Huge, successful move by Joe Girardi, pulling Colon with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth and calling upon Boone Logan to get Adrian Gonzalez. I would've said it was the right move even if A-Gone had hit a grand slam. Colon was cooked. It was time for him to go. And there wouldn't be a more critical situation for which the Yankees should have saved their LOOGY.

When Logan struck out Gonzalez on three pitches, the Yankees responded with a three-run sixth against Jon Lester, and that was your ballgame.

Just going off anecdotal evidence, this move felt like progress for Girardi, who has not pulled the trigger in time in the past. My top example of this would be Game 4 of last year's American League Championship Series, when he let A.J. Burnett stay in the game (after pitching a solid first five innings) to lose.

Anyway, for my column, I wrote partly about how easy it seemed for the Yankees to climb out of their 1-8 hole in the rivalry season series, and partly why the Yankees should use a modified six-man rotation, as we discussed on the blog yesterday.

--The Mets lost to Atlanta at home, and really, they needed to sweep the Braves to even entertain the notion of a longhost wild-card run. The day was even worse because of the news concerning Ike Davis and his ailing left ankle. You start to wonder whether Davis will ever be able to fully recover from this. It's an incredibly tough break for Davis and the Mets.

--In other Mets injury news, Johan Santana is taking it easy, and there's virtually no chance that he'll pitch in the majors this year. And as David Lennon makes clear, concern looms about next year.

Santana underwent a very serious shoulder procedure. We have no idea what he has left to contribute.

--Last night's Phillies-Giants game - which lowered San Francisco to the third seed - was a doozy, featuring a bench-clearing brawl that started when Ramon Ramirez hit Shane Victorino with a pitch. 

All the more reason to root for these two clubs to be the last two standing in the NL, come October.

--Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci reports that MLB sent a warning to its players last week about ingesting deer antler spray, a new, supposedly performance-enhancing drug that - as Verducci explains - wouldn't show up in a urine test, but could contain other ingredients that would do so.

It illustrates once more how complex the issue of PEDs is. What if we find out years from now that a large percentage of players was using this stuff? What if, somehow, it aided pitchers more than hitters, and that has contributed to this new era of dominant pitching? Are we going to shake our fists all over again?

Gosh, I hope not. I hope it helps us appreciate that, while MLB should do everything reasonable to curtail the usage of illegal PEDs, players haven't stopped and won't stop trying to utilize every competitive advantage to put up big numbers and help their teams win ballgames.

--Have a great day.






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