Dugout Digest – a new leader

After what seems like six months of underachieving, the Detroit Tigers are finally all alone in first place in the AL Central. It comes at a great time in the season, with just seven games to go in the year for Detroit and the second place Chicago White Sox, who have led the division for most of the year despite preseason predictions that had the team nowhere near contention. The Tigers got their win on Wednesday night in comeback fashion, rallying from a 4-1 deficit against the Royals to win 5-4, even with starting pitcher Rick Porcello lasting just four innings. As for the White Sox, they went the opposite direction, blowing leads of 3-1 and 4-3 en route to a 6-4 loss to the hapless Cleveland Indians, in Chicago no less. With just those seven games left, the schedule has to favor Detroit, who have four more games remaining with the Royals and three with the Twins, though all but one of those games come on the road. The White Sox have a much more difficult slate, with four games in Chicago against the red hot Tampa Bay Rays and then three on the road in Cleveland.

Game of the Night: Angels 4, Mariners 3. Speaking of unstoppable freight trains, how about the Angels? They're now 16-7 in September and have picked up 2.5 big games on the A's in the AL Wild Card race, putting them just two games back of that elusive second wild card spot. In Wednesday's action against Seattle, Los Angeles fell behind 3-2 in the fourth thanks to a Justin Smoak solo homer, his third in the last two games against the Angels. Torii Hunter singled Peter Bourjos in during the seventh inning against Josh Kinney to tie the game at three, and Hunter struck again in the ninth with a walkoff single against Stephen Pryor to bring Maicier Izturis home. All of a sudden, things are getting awfully crazy in the American League.

Pitching Lines of the Night: Bud Norris pitched the Astros to a 2-0 shutout win over the Cardinals, throwing 7 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits, no walks, and seven strikeouts. Jeremy Hefner pitched well for the Mets in their 6-0 win over the Pirates that knocked Pittsburgh out of the playoff race, throwing seven shutout frames and giving up three hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Matt Cain also threw seven shutout innings in the Giants 6-0 win over the Diamondbacks, allowing four hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. CC Sabathia dominated the Twins in an 8-2 Yankees win, allowing two runs on six hits over eight innings, walking one and striking out ten. The Braves continued rolling, beating the Marlins 3-0 behind the arm of Paul Maholm, who allowed five hits over 6 2/3 shutout innings, striking out six without a walk.

Hitting Lines of the Night: Matt Kemp awoke from his September slumber, potentially too late for the Dodgers in their 8-2 win in San Diego, going 4/5 with two runs, four RBI, a double, and a homer. Chris Davis continued his unreal season for the Orioles in a 12-2 blowout win over the Blue Jays, going 2/4 with two homers and five RBI. His teammte Manny Machado went 2/4 with three RBI and two homers of his own. Norichika Aoki continued his impressive rookie campaign in Milwaukee's 8-1 win over the Reds, going 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, two doubles, and his tenth homer of the year, while Jonathan Lucroy went 3/4 with two runs, a walk, a double, and a homer. Finally, Bryce Harper powered the Nationals to a 9-4 win in Philadelphia, going 2/5 with three RBI, a triple, a homer, and a stolen base.

Other Games: The Rays beat the Red Sox 4-2 for their seventh win in a row. The A's chased young Rangers starter Martin Perez in the first inning, en route to a 9-3 victory. The Rockies shut out the Cubs 6-0, and no one really noticed.

Today's Games: Seven of today's 12 games are day games on the east coast. Woohoo! Doug Fister starts for the Tigers against the Royals. Wily Peralta and Mat Latos will duel in Cincinnati, with the Brewers clinging to playoff life. Travis Blackley of the A's starts in Dallas against Matt Harrison. RA Dickey looks for win #20 against the Pirates. Hisashi Iwakuma will start for the Mariners in Anaheim against Dan Haren and the Angels. James Shields and the Rays travel to Chicago to take on Jake Peavy and the White Sox. Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nationals in Philly.

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.