• If Detroit hangs on and wins the AL Central, the Tigers' key in their first-round series against the Yankees will come long before that series begins: They need to make sure their race with Minnesota doesn't go down to the last day on Sunday so they don't have to burn ace Justin Verlander. If the Tigers are to upset the Yankees in the first round, it's going to be because Verlander, Rick Porcello and Edwin Jackson pitch the games of their lives.
• Here's one small glimpse into why it's working so well in Colorado: Just before closer Huston Street was shelved earlier this month with biceps tendinitis, he was warming up to enter a game with the New York Mets when the phone rang in the Rockies' dugout. It was a call from bullpen coach Jim Wright, who had watched Street and seen enough. While Street was hoping to pitch through his soreness, Wright told Tracy that the closer didn't look right. So Tracy opted to go elsewhere in the pen for a reliever and the Rockies shut Street down. Though Street has blown two save opportunities since coming back, he still should help the Rockies in the playoffs. And if he does, credit an observant bullpen coach with a save.
• So Minnesota will take its slim chances into the final weekend of baseball in the Metrodome's history, heading home and straight into Kansas City ace Zack Greinke on Friday night. It will be the second time in five days the Twins will face him. Good luck with that.
• Attention, Phillies and Yankees: Angels manager Mike Scioscia the other day said Bobby Abreu is his team's MVP. Why? "For one simple reason: The balance he's provided on the offensive side," Scioscia says. Abreu's .394 on-base percentage leads the Angels, and almost as important, he's really helped the maturation of fellow Latin players Kendry Morales, Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar. Scioscia also qualified his pick, saying he would have gone with Torii Hunter as team MVP had Hunter not been injured (adductor muscle) an missed three weeks at midseason.
• You do the math ... on second thought, forget it, it's too tiring: Giants coach Tim Flannery figures coaches hit 44,000 fungoes a year. And he's been coaching 14 years. So he figures he's hit some 616,000 fungoes in his life ... and counting.
• No word yet from Giants owner Bill Neukom on whether general manager Brian Sabean and field manager Bruce Bochy will be offered contract extensions. Sabean and Bochy each is in the last season of his deal. Bochy has grown to love San Francisco and hopes to return.
• Ugh: Kansas City went 33-48 in Kauffman Stadium, it's second-worst home record ever. The worst: 29-51 in 1998.
• Now Jose Reyes has a torn right hamstring and will require surgery, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. And the clock is underway regarding whether he's going to go down as one of the great, unfulfilled talents in Mets history.
• I see Philadelphia lefty Jamie Moyer headed for season-ending surgery at 46 (groin), and I think: Now I know exactly why he dug up the pitching rubber and lugged it home from the clinching World Series game -- his first -- last fall. As a dying Warren Zevon told David Letterman, "Enjoy every sandwich." In the twilight of his career, Moyer is a guy who always has done just that.
• Did you see that when Oakland's Matt Carson hit his first career homer the other day, the fan who caught the ball wouldn't return it without a large ransom? The A's wouldn't do it, and Carson didn't get the ball (though he does have the bat). If I'm the A's, I find out who that greedy pig fan is and make sure he's never allowed to purchase another ticket to an Oakland game. What a jerk.
Likes: Bruce Springsteen opening a five-night stand at Giants Stadium with a new song, Wrecking Ball video here from the Newark Star-Ledger). The guy is unbelievable. It's just the latest example that you never, ever know what you're going to see when you see Bruce and the E St. Band. They are Willie Mays in his prime, Magic Johnson at his peak. Sure hope to catch another couple of shows before the tour ends in November. You owe it to yourself to do so, too, if you can. ... Those old black and yellow Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms were so ugly, but I'll tell you what, they look beautiful every time I see Willie Stargell leaping up and down in clips from the 1979 World Series. ... Greatest newspaper headline I've seen this year, and it ran a couple of months ago but I forgot to pass it along: From the Trentonian newspaper, Hide Your Beagle, Vick's an Eagle.
Dislikes: Cougar Town. I happened to be home last week and, against my better judgment, watched the season premiere. I'm sorry I did. It was embarrassingly bad. Suffice to say, I didn't make it to the second episode this week. ... Didn't much care for I Love You, Man on the Netflix video program, either. Funny coarse and vulgar is one thing. But this was that, without the funny.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now"
-- Bob Dylan, My Back Pages