Around the horn: Aug. 28
? We are going to have some amazing races down the stretch in the American League. The Yankees, who pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Red Sox in the East on Saturday, took sole possession Sunday of the Wild Card lead by a half-game over the stumbling and bumbling Angels. Meanwhile, the red-hot A’s are back atop the AL West.
? Jason Giambi continued his amazing season on Sunday, decking two homers and tying a career high with seven RBIs on Sunday, helping the Yankees complete a series sweep of the Royals with a 10-3 victory. Giambi — who I thought would be a non-factor this season — has 23 homers and 60 RBIs. His .440 on-base percentage leads the Majors. Despite their 6-1 homestand, I still think the Yankees will have to settle for the Wild Card.
Derek Jeter, of course, thinks differently.
"Our fans don’t want to see us win the Wild Card. They want to see us win the division."
? The A’s will not go away quietly. They won their fifth straight Sunday, ripping the O’s, 10-3. A’s righty Dan Haren snapped a personal three-game losing streak, and Scott Hatteberg went 3-for-3 with a solo home run and two runs scored. The A’s, who opened the season 8-23 on the road, have won 17 of 20 away from Oakland.
Even if the A’s drop the finale of their four-game series against the O’s on Monday, they’ll open a three-game series in Anaheim on Tuesday no worse than tied atop the division.
? Speaking of the Angels, they are headed in the wrong direction. They got swept by the Rays on Sunday and have dropped four straight. It was the first time in team history that the Angels were swept by the Rays.
The Angels need to take this week’s series against the A’s, or they could be in serious trouble.
? The Rays are a hard time to figure out. The three-game sweep of the Angels was the Rays’ first in team history and it gave the Rays six series sweeps for the season. This month alone, they have taken series from the Angels and Yankees, but lost series to the O’s and Indians.
Tampa Bay finished its 13-game stretch at Tropicana Field with a 9-4 record ? a franchise record for wins during any homestand. And it improved to 27-15 since the All-Star break.
Thanks to their post-break stretch, the Rays are getting super cocky.
"We’re a good team right now," Aubrey Huff said after Sunday’s win. "If we could have maybe played .500 ball in the first half, you’re looking maybe at a Wild Card team. We’ve been playing that good. …"
? David Wells came through in a big way for the Red Sox Sunday. With the bullpen taxed almost beyond comprehension over the last few days, Wells pitched Boston to an 11-3 victory in the rubber match of a three-game series with the Tigers.
Wells scattered nine hits over seven innings, giving up three runs — two earned. He struck out seven. In the 14 games that preceded this one, Matt Clement was the only Boston starter to go seven innings in a game, doing so twice.
? As for the Sox bullpen, the team designated Mike Remlinger for assignment before Sunday’s game. And closer Keith Foulke — making his second appearance with the Spinners as he rehabs from left knee surgery on July 6 — entered the game in the seventh inning, with the Class A Lowell Spinners leading the Tri-City Valley Cats, 4-0. He threw 21 pitches, 12 for strikes, giving up a run on a walk and a hit, while striking out one.
? My wife’s cousin, Hank Blalock, lifted the Rangers past the Twins, 2-1, with a walk-off infield dribbler.
? The loss is a mighty blow to the Twins’ playoff chances. It was the fourth time this week that the Twins scored one run or less in a game. Johan Santana delivered his seventh straight quality start, allowing one run on three hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked three. His 195 strikeouts lead the Majors.
? The Cardinals are ridiculous. Starter Mark Mulder was scratched due to stiffness in his neck, forcing Cal Eldred to start. Albert Pujols was ejected in the first inning. Yet, they still handled the Nationals, 6-0, for their MLB-leading 83rd win of the season.