In 2003 the Mariners finished three games behind Oakland in the West and two games out of the Wild Card. Since then they've been below .500 each year and meaningful series have been in short supply in the Pacific Northwest. Ichiro Suzuki and Willie Bloomquist are the only guys that have remained in Seattle for that entire stretch so it was fitting that one of them played the key role in a 2-0 win against the Angels that cut L.A.'s lead to three in the West. Ichiro collected three hits, scored one run and drove in the other one to support Miguel Batista's seven shutout innings and J.J. Putz's customary ninth-inning domination. Bloomquist may not have played but I'm sure he was leading the chatter in the dugout like nobody's business.
- Good news for the Phillies: They beat the Cubs 4-1. Bad news for the Phillies: Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn both left the game with injuries. Good news: Cole Hamels gave up three hits and struck out eight in eight innings for his 12th win. Bad news: The Phillie injury list now reads like the aftermath of Gallipoli, a tough spot to be in with Mark Teixeira and Octavio Dotel heading to Atlanta. Good news: Tadahito Iguchi hit his first home run as a Phillie. News which may be good or bad: The Phillies traded for Kyle Lohse of Cincinnati, a starting pitcher for a team that needs one. 6-12 with a 4.58 ERA, Lohse has given up 16 homers and isn't coming to a forgiving ballpark in Citizens Bank Park.
- Thursday can't come soon enough for the Tigers. They played their 15th game in 14 days last night, all but three of them away from home, and they looked awfully tired while getting swept by the Angels last weekend. When you're tired there's nothing like a bodacious tata to put some pep in your step, a formula that the Tigers utilized to snap their four-game losing streak. Jordan Tata allowed two runs over seven innings in his first big league start, the kind of bodacious performance the team needed to beat the A's 5-2. And if you don't believe that the Tigers like Tata, check out the reward he received from a job well done.
- The end of the Luis Castillo era could have cast a pall over the Metrodome but the Twins are hardier souls than that. Joe Mauer drove in three runs and Scott Baker pitched a gem to start the A.L.C. period with a 3-1 win over the Royals. Such bravery in the face of unhappiness is to be commended.
- There were more scouts than fans in the Tampa crowd last night for the 11-inning affair that the Rays won 5-4 on a Carl Crawford home run. According to the AP, scouts from "the Yankees, Mets, White Sox, Seattle, Texas, Cleveland, St. Louis, Arizona and Houston" were present. You gotta do what you can to get those attendance numbers up and I applaud the Rays marketing department for their clever two scouts for the price of one promotion.
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)