Since the All Star break, the teams in the American League East have fared pretty much as they stand in their division. Tammy's Yankees, who are currently in first place one half game ahead of the Boston Red Sox, came out with a torrid pace of winning eleven of their first thirteen games ... and, if it hadn't been for a nearly disastrous trip to Chicago, where they were almost swept by the White Sox in their 4-game set, this division would not be as close at the top.
My son-in-law's Red Sox slipped from 1st to 2nd place, primarily due to their very slow start out of the gate, where they lost two out of their first three to Steven's Blue Jays and then got swept by the Rangers. However, of their last 10 games, six were played against the hapless Orioles - the doormats of this division. The next few weeks will see seven head-to-head matchups between the Red Sox and Yankees. It'll be interesting to see how those games affect the 1-2 spots in the division.
Steven has hinted of some possible clubhouse friction and general discontent within his team. You know, when your team has fallen back as far as the Jays have, rumors (some based on truth, no doubt) will abound. I don't think it helped his team at all that Roy Halladay's name was bandied about so much during this period! The Blue Jays have a tough road to hoe coming up, with eleven (11!) games scheduled against the Red Sox and Yankees. The Jays beat the Red Sox 2 out of the 3 in their home park (haven't play the Yankees since the break), and I would imagine that the Sox will have that series loss fresh on their minds when they meet in Boston.
The Red Sox appear to have made the most trades and shuffling of players prior to the 31st deadline. Aram Tolegian says their acquisition of Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians has paid immediate dividends and writes that "the offense looks formidable again".
As I think I've told you before, the subject of trades holds very little interest for me, generally.
[I'm of the very old school (ancient, maybe?) that likes to see a player sign with one team - and, if it's a really good player, hopefully it will be my team! - and remain there throughout his playing career. I still haven't quite forgiven Nolan Ryan for signing with the Rangers in the waning years of his career - and, more power and credit to him, he still had another no-hitter or two to go before he finally retired his robotic pitching arm ... ... then, when he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, chose to be inducted as a Ranger rather than as an Astro.]
However, it was impossible to ignore the Cardinals' acquisition of LF Matt Holliday - 7/24 - from the Oakland Athletics. Heavens to Betsy! By the time we faced the Cardinals this past weekend, Matt was batting .586 as a Cardinal. Just incredible! Prior to getting Matt in a trade, the Cardinals were 4-6 in games played. Since then, they are 5-2. That's a turnaround and a half!
The only thing that stopped this juggernaut was the introduction of Bud Norris - recently brought up from AAA - to the Astros' starting lineup. (We've had our own share of injuries!) Bud stopped them cold Sunday. Both Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday were O-fers in that game. One start does not a career make, I realize, but it sure did bring a smile to this fan's face!
I've already mentioned our being able to snatch Chris Coste off of the waiver wires from the Phillies on July 10th. A fortunate grab! Chris has filled in several times for Lance Berkman (1B) and has come off the bench to provide much-needed and timely hits. Welcome, Chris!
Did you think I had missed the Julio Lugo trade to the Cardinals from the Red Sox? I did not! We had him at one time. Sure, he's a huge threat to steal if he gets on base, but he makes a lot of errors at shortstop!
As far as trades for Chuck's Cubbies go, it appears as tho they were going for more left-handed pitchers. We'll see how that all works out. There's been criticism heard on both radio and television even this far south that they were (seemingly) unable to pick up a closer. (Perhaps there wa$n't a good one to be had?!?) I can only imagine the shouts that must be reverberating further north!
Meanwhile, the National League Central remains - while not quite as tuf and tight as it was just a couple of weeks ago - very interesting, indeed! As of this writing, the Cubs snd Cardinals are in a virtual tie for 1st/2nd with the Astros and Brewers in an absolute tie for 3rd/4th at 4 games back. I hadn't even begun to look at their schedules in the next few weeks, but I will now!
All right. I've looked at all of them. None really jumps out at me, and so I guess my next major baseball post will be in a couple or three weeks. Somewhere between here and there, Tammy, I'll probably do one on the wild card, which becomes of extreme interest around this time of year.
Hang in there, guys and gals! And, if your heart tends to palpitate horrendously at the slightest veer in the standings, make sure you have your rescuscitating tablets handy!!