1. The Yankees will drop two of three games to the mighty Rays, seeing their American League East lead shrink to 1 ½ games over Tampa Bay. Yet the weekend won't go entirely for naught. Alex Rodriguez will finally end the agony tonight when, in the second inning, he homers off Wade Davis for his 600th career home runs.

“What a relief,” A-Rod will admit. “Now I can generate ‘buzz’ in the way I know best: Dating celebrities.”

2. The Mets will win two of three from the Diamondbacks at Citi Field, winding up a moderately successful, 4-2 homestand. Of course, this being the Mets, things won’t go completely smoothly.

During his Mets Hall of Fame induction speech, Darryl Strawberry will rip into the 2010 Mets for lacking “fire” and “fight” – at which point Straw’s fellow inductee Davey Johnson will double-switch him off the podium, replacing him with Lee Mazzilli.

Frank Cashen, the third honoree, will react by recommending that Johnson be replaced by Bud Harrelson.

And Dwight Gooden, finishing out the quartet, will say, “OK, enough craziness here today. I just have a nice, simple speech - to be read by my nephew, Gary Sheffield."

3. The Phillies will sweep the Nationals in Washington, and Roy Oswalt will pitch impressively tonight, limiting the Nationals to three runs in seven innings in his Phillies debut. Alas, the player and team will realize they still have some kinks to work out.

When Phillies director of baseball communications Greg Casterioto asks Oswalt if he’s ready for his post-game news conference, Oswalt will say, “Sure, I’m ready. As long as you guys throw another $1 million into my 2012 buyout.”

--R.A. Dickey exemplifies what the Mets need, Jim Baumbach writes, if they want to make a surprising playoff run.

--Kept meaning to mention it, but I forgot: The Nationals put Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list. So come on out, old-schoolers: Yup, no matter how much you control a pitcher's workload, pitching is an unnatural act, and injury is still quite possible.

And no one would ever dispute that. The whole idea is to minimize injury, and while teams have worked very hard at this stuff for a long time, they haven't quite perfected it yet.

--Gotta get ready for my flight to Tampa - I'll be at Yankees-Rays all weekend - but one parting trade-deadline thought, from an official from an NL club: "I'm hearing there will be a lot of action late, and that a lot of teams doing the selling are keeping prices high, likely until the last minute."

Such demanding sellers include Washington (Adam Dunn) and Toronto (Scott Downs), and maybe the Cubs (Ted Lilly), too. Should be a fun last few days. I'll check in from Tropicana Field.

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