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Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mets and Red Sox rebounds

Greetings from Toronto, one of our planet's cleaner cities. 

First, your updated playoff brackets:

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

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

Thoughts: The Brewers' victory in Cincinnati, combined with the Diamondbacks' loss in San Diego, put Milwaukee back on top in the see-saw battle for that number two seed in the NL. It should be noted, in light of yesterday's discussion of potential Brewers distractions that Prince "I won't be here next year" Fielder went 2-for-3 with a homer, while Francisco "I hate setting up" Rodriguez pitched a clean eighth inning for the hold.

--At the Yankees' loss to Toronto, I wrote about Alex Rodriguez, who is trying a different grip on his bat to mitigate the pressure on his ailing left thumb. We'll have a small sample size of 10 regular-season games or so to see if it can work for October.

In his game story, meanwhile, Erik Boland wrote about CC Sabathia and his current rut - a 4.26 ERA in his last nine starts. Is it the extra rest (Sabathia has pitched on more than four days' rest in seven of those nine starts)? is it the fact that in the start before this stretch, July 26 against Seattle, he returned after two rain delays? Or is it just the law of averages catching up with a guy whose ERA sat at 2.55 after his Aug. 1 start and even now is an overall very good 3.01?

Given Sabathia's track record, he of course deserves the benefit of the doubt. Especially when you consider that he's still missing a fair share of bats; actually his 68 strikeouts in his last 61 1/3 innings tops his overall rate (224 in 229 2/3 innings) for the season.

--Francisco Cervelli is still feeling the effects of the concussion he suffered last week, and at this point, you'd be surprised if we saw him again this season. As Erik Boland writes, Cervelli's condition opens up a spot for rookie Austin Romine on the Yankees' postseason roster. 

--The Mets halted their six-game losing streak with a blowout of the Braves, making manager Terry Collins look good for his Thursday afternoon diatribe. Maybe the Mets did need a little kick in their derrieres. Maybe Derek Lowe just didn't have it last night.

Maybe the world is gray, and it was a little of both.

--And the Red Sox stopped the bleeding by edging the Rays behind Josh Beckett. Now four games back in the AL wild-card race, Tampa Bay no longer controls its own destiny. Realistically, the Rays need to win these next two over the Red Sox, which would shave their deficit to two games with 11 to play, to have any hopes of pulling this off. 

--Have a great day.






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