HOUSTON, TX: George Kottaras and Craig Counsell celebrate a two-run home run in the sixth inning as catcher Carlos Corporan of the Houston Astros watches at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Just being honest, there was some thought to skipping Weekend Update this week. If only to see if anyone would notice. But ultimately we realized that this just wouldn't be fair to you, the Dear Readers, who already had to wait an extra day for your weekly pablum. If you want more of these down the stretch, though? The best thing you can do is tell your friends and neighbors. Remember, we're all in this thing together ...
Entering the weekend, all four of those teams were at least entertaining notions -- some more realistic than others -- of getting back into the thick of pennant-race action.
But the Cardinals couldn't make up any ground against the Brewers, the Giants couldn't make up any ground against the Diamondbacks, and the White Sox and Indians ... well, the White Sox got swept by the Tigers, and last night Detroit kept their streak going with a 4-2 win over the Indians. The Cardinals are 10-1/2 games out of first place, the Giants seven out, the Indians 7-1/2 out and the White Sox eight.
Hello, American League West!
Ah, but there are six divisions in major League Baseball and all six of them do count.
Don't look now, but we've got a bit of a situation in the American League West. On the morning of August 18, the Orange County Angels found themselves seven games behind the Texas Rangers, and both teams seemed to have reached their places the old-fashioned way. But then the Angels ripped off a six-game winning streak that put them right back into contention, and the Rangers' current 2-1/2 games lead can hardly be considered safe. If they can just hold on for a couple of weeks, the Angels should have their fans whipped into a fevered pitch for a season-ending series against the Rangers, in Anaheim.
George Kottaras and Zach Stewart Become Household Names
Temporarily, anyway. In a few Upper Midwest households.
Saturday, Milwaukee's Kottaras became one of the very few backup catchers to hit for the cycle in major-league history (and the first of any stripe to accomplish the rare feat in 2011).
Monday, White Sox rookie Zach Stewart -- making just his eighth start in the majors -- took a perfect game into the eighth inning against the Twins. Danny Valencia led off the eighth with a single, but Stewart finished with a one-hit shutout, striking out nine Minnesotans.
Charlie Manuel Lodges a Protest!
Not that it's likely to do him much good. But yesterday the Phillies did file a formal protest, regarding Saturday's game in which Hunter Pence's apparently double was changed to an out, after the umpires looked at the video and determined that a couple of Phillies fans -- in Miami, no less -- had interfered with right fielder Bryan Petersen. It was the right call, but the Phillies will argue that the rules governing video review do not allow for interference to be called unless there's a question about a home run ... and apparently the Phillies are claiming there was never any suggestion that Pence hit a home run. I found the entire affair quite confusing, and can only hope that MLB clears up this mess. Because, you know, they're usually so good at clearing things up.