BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

Yanks on path to postseason


The AL wild-card race remains a race for now, but that might not be the case much longer. The Yankees continue to roll along. They are up four games on the Tigers, who have been bugged by injuries and inconsistency this season.

The only thing that could halt the Yankees' progress would be a punishing weekend against the Red Sox in Fenway Park. As long as the Yankees don't get swept, they should be in good shape. Their upcoming schedule after Boston includes the Orioles, Blue Jays and Devil Rays.

The best chance at a little late-September excitement would be if there is some sort of stumble by the Yankees, but given the way Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and company are swinging the bats, that seems rather unlikely.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

NEW YORK YANKEES
Who's hot: Jorge Posada is hitting .483 with four home runs and seven RBIs in his last eight starts -- and is having one of the greatest seasons ever for a catcher over the age of 35. Besides helping the Yankees into a likely postseason spot, he's putting himself in position for a very lucrative free-agent contract.
Who's not: Hideki Matsui snapped out of a 5-for-45 funk with a hit and RBI on Wednesday. It's a little odd that Matsui is struggling. He has a .358 batting average in September over the last two seasons.
Outlook: The Yankees will make their last-gasp effort at staying in the AL East race in Boston this weekend. But a potential bugaboo looms in the ice-cold Orioles, who come next and are 8-4 against the Yanks this season.
DETROIT TIGERS
Who's hot: The Tigers must be wishing they could pitch Justin Verlander every time out. He's 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA in his last four starts, planting himself into contention for the wide-open AL Cy Young Award. That kind of performance was expected. What wasn't is the spark-plug showing from Timo Perez, who is hitting .468 in his last 15 games.
Who's not: Prior to Wednesday, Gary Sheffield was 1-for-19 since his return from injury, but he clubbed his 25th home run in the win over the Rangers. Sheffield hasn't really closed a season strong since 2003, when he hit .311 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 25 September games for the Braves.
Outlook: All of the Tigers' remaining games are against AL Central foes, but that's not necessarily a good thing. They're 28-29 against the Central this season and just 7-5 against their next opponent, the Twins.
SEATTLE MARINERS
Who's hot: It's tough to pick anyone -- since the M's have basically played their way out of the race. Jose Vidro is the closest thing to a hot hitter. He has a five-game hitting streak and ranks ninth in the AL in batting. Raul Ibanez has four multi-RBI games in what has been a dismal month.
Who's not: Just about everybody else. Seattle is headed to its fourth straight September without a winning record.
Outlook: The Mariners are clinging to the slimmest of slim threads. An upcoming four-game series with Tampa Bay is only a cure-all if they sweep and the Yankees and Tigers go into dramatic slumps.

NEWS AND NOTES
Troy Glaus • Blue Jays 3B Troy Glaus will undergo season-ending surgery next week to repair a nerve in his left foot, the latest blow in an injury-filled season that has also included accusations he received performance-enhancing drugs. The surgery will be performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Phillip Kwong. Glaus will need to rest for about a month afterward but is expected to be healthy in time for spring training.

• Yankee Stadium is set to host its final regular-season game on Sept. 21, 2008, with New York playing Baltimore. Shea Stadium will hold its regular-season wrapup a week later, on Sept. 28 against Florida. Both New York teams are moving into new ballparks in 2009.

Derek Lowe • A bruised hand forced Dodgers RHP Derek Lowe out of his start against the Padres, and it will keep him on the sidelines until this weekend at the earliest. Lowe (11-12, 3.80) was injured while playing catch with fellow pitcher Jonathan Broxton before Tuesday night's game.

• David Ortiz hit the ninth walk-off home run of his career to lead the Red Sox over the Devil Rays 5-4. Ortiz, who homered twice and drove in all five runs, has 30 jacks and 102 RBIs this year. He has reached 30 homers and at least 100 RBIs in all five of his seasons with Boston.

• Diamondbacks 3B Chad Tracy took live batting practice ahead of schedule, a day after hitting soft-toss swings in the indoor cage as part of his recovery from tendinitis in his right knee. He has been on the DL since Aug. 15

• Mariners 1B Richie Sexson has been diagnosed with tendinitis in his left hamstring and will likely be out for another 10 days. He has missed 10 of the last 12 games.

• The Phillies turned their second triple play of the season in the first inning against Colorado. They've made 30 in team history, including three in 1964.

• Justin Verlander beat the Rangers for his 17th win. Verlander (17-5), who went 17-9 last season, became the first Detroit pitcher to win at least 17 games in consecutive seasons since Jack Morris in 1986-87.

• Mets LF Moises Alou extended his hitting streak to 17 games in a 4-3 win over the Braves, tying David Wright for the longest streak by a Met this season.

• The Reds completed the Aug. 30 trade with the Cubs for OF Buck Coats and cash by sending minor league RHP Marcos Mateo to Chicago.

• Rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain's scoreless streak ended at 15 1/3 innings, the longest by a Yankees pitcher at the start of his major league career since Slow Joe Doyle opened with 18 in 1906.

THINKING BLUE
Dodgers stay in the hunt with win over Pads.
IN THE ZONE
Matt Holliday Matt Holliday hit a three-run homer in the Rockies' 12-0 romp over the Phillies -- Colorado's most-lopsided road shutout in team history. Holliday, who hit two jacks Tuesday night against the Phillies, has homered in four straight games. He has 30 on the season and leads the NL with 119 RBIs.
CANINE COMPANY
AP Photo/Al Behrman
Over 350 dogs showed up at Great American Ball Park -- with their owners -- as part of a promotion for the Cardinals-Reds game.
NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES
GOOD
Jim Thome Jim Thome hit his 499th homer and drove in three runs to lead the White Sox over the Indians 7-4. Thome, who has six big flies against his former club, is one home run away from becoming the 23rd player to reach 500 and the third this season, following Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.
BAD
Milwauke Brewers The Brewers lost to the Pirates for the second time in three days and dropped into a first-place tie with the Cubs in the NL Central. Milwaukee fell to 29-45 on the road this season and 20-42 all-time at PNC Park.
UGLY
Daniel Cabrera Daniel Cabrera had a night to forget in the Orioles' 18-6 loss to the Angels -- Baltimore's 18th defeat in 21 games since the team announced manager Dave Trembley would return in 2008. Cabrera gave up a career-high 10 runs (eight earned) in 4 1/3 innings, and his record sunk to 9-16, tied for most losses in the majors.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I never thought that this team would lose 100."
-- Royals manager Buddy Bell after beating the Twins for their 63rd win of the season. The victory ensured K.C. won't have triple-digit losses for the first time in four years.
FORWARD THINKING: THURSDAY
Jeff Francis • Rockies at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET: As Colorado tries to move from September to October for just the second time ever, Jeff Francis (15-7, 4.05) looks to improve upon the best year of his young career. He is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in his last five starts. J.D. Durbin (6-5, 6.12) has been roughed up by the Rockies this season, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits in just 2 1/3 innings.

Ian Kennedy • Yankees at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET: Ian Kennedy (1-0, 2.25) has stepped right into New York's rotation and proven he's ready for The Show. In his first two career starts, the 22-year-old rookie has allowed only three earned runs over 12 innings. A.J. Burnett (8-7, 3.56) is finishing strong. He is 3-1 with a 1.90 ERA in his last six outings.

Steve Trachsel • Cubs at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET With the NL Central up for grabs, Chicago needs Steve Trachsel (6-10, 4.78) to deliver. The veteran righty is 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA since being acquired from the Orioles. Woody Williams (8-14, 4.93) hopes to throw a wrench into the Cubs' postseason plans. He is 5-5 with 4.98 ERA in 13 starts at Minute Maid Park.

David Wells • Padres at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET This matchup of 40-somethings is a must-win for L.A. David Wells (7-8, 5.31) gets the call against his former team. He got a no-decision in his last start against San Diego and is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA as a Dodger. Greg Maddux (12-9, 3.68) has been lights-out lately. He is 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last six starts and hasn't walked a batter in 54 1/3 innings.

• Thursday's complete list of probable starters


 

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