|Chipper Jones and the Braves pulled off a ninth-inning miracle on Sunday. (Getty Images)|
A wild Sunday set the stage for a full slate of Labor Day baseball action ...
Heck, Sunday was so good a mere "3 UP" simply won't do ...
Chipper Jones, Braves: Bottom of the ninth, two out, two on, spiraling Braves down by a pair, one of the best closers in baseball on the mound, 12.8% chance of winning the game ... Chipper takes him deep for a three-run walk-off bomb. The 40-year-old future first-ballot hall-of-famer is now hitting .302/.381/.500 in this, his final season. Not bad, old man.
The A's: Yes, all of them. Did any of you think that, on Sept. 2, the A's would have the same record as the Yankees? Well, with Sunday's win over Boston, Oakland notched its ninth-straight win and pulled even with the team that bests them by, oh, almost $150 million in payroll. Against all expectations and despite being nine games under .500 on June 10, the A's are just 3.0 games back of the Rangers in the AL West.
Jurickson Profar, Rangers: Profar is regarded as perhaps the top prospect in all of baseball, and his major-league debut on Sunday did nothing to diminish his standing. The 19-year-old phenom (he's the same age, to the day, as Bryce Harper was when he made his major-league debut earlier this season) went 2-for-4 with a homer and double. The home run came in his first career AB …
As our own Danny Knobler noted on Twitter, Profar is the first 19-year-old to homer in his first major-league game since Denny McLain (of all people) back in 1963.
Mark Reynolds, Orioles: Central to the Orioles' road win over the Yanks on Sunday was Reynolds, who went 3-for-5 with two homers, three runs scored and five RBI. Thanks largely to Reynolds's efforts at the plate, the O's secured their third series win at Yankee Stadium in the same season for the first time since 1976.
James McDonald, Pirates: If the Buccos are going to remain in the NL wild-card chase, then they'll need for their starting pitchers not to bury them in the early innings. However, that's exactly what McDonald did on Sunday. In just 2 2/3 innings of work against the Brewers, McDonald gave up eight runs (three in the first) and four homers. In the process, he raised his second-half ERA to 7.49.
Padres pitchers: Yes, Coors Field is a tough environment for hurlers these days, but still: 8.0 IP, 11 runs allowed. As well, six San Diego pitchers combined to allow the Rockies to go 5-for-10 with RISP and tally six two-out RBI. Thanks in large parts to their efforts, the Padres on Sunday became the first team in two years to total 20 or more hits in a nine-inning game and still lose.
Astros bullpen: While Houston starter Bud Norris turned in a dominating 6.0 innings against the Reds, his relief was … something less than dominating. Staked to a 3-0 lead in the eighth, Hector Ambriz, Xavier Cedeno and Wilton Lopez combined to give up five runs in the inning. The Astros lost. Again.
Baltimore Joe: While the Blue Jays are merely playing out the string, the Orioles are in playoff position and also within spitting distance of the first-place Yankees. The O's will trot out Joe Saunders for the second time since they acquired from the Diamondbacks. He'll be hoping for better results this time. Toronto counters with J.A. Happ. 1:07 pm ET
Beasts of the East: Can the Yankees hang on to their shrinking lead in the AL East? They just dropped two of three at home to the Orioles, and before that they lost two of three to the Jays, also at home. Now they'll hit the road to face Tampa Bay. The series opener features CC Sabathia against James Shields. It's possible that the Yankees will be in second place by mid-week. 1:10 pm ET
Angels' last stand?: OK, that lead-in is a bit premature, but there's no doubt that the upcoming three-game set in Oakland is big. As detailed above, the A's come in magma-hot, and the Angels have won five of six. Playoff implications abound as C.J. Wilson opposes Tommy Milone. 4:05 pm ET
Monday's probable pitchers
• College football interlude: Chief architect of Ohio U.'s "soft upset" of Penn State on Saturday? Bobcats QB Tyler Tettleton, who just happens to be the son of former major-league catcher Mickey Tettleton. [Detroit News]
• It's about the money: What does Bud Selig think about the new, moneyed state of the Dodgers? Here's a revealing quote from the commissioner: "The night the judge announced the $2.15 billion [sale price of the Dodgers], I was stunned. Then I was very happy. At a meeting in July 1998, I told the owners to judge me on their asset value." [Los Angeles Times]
• Get Carter: Do the A's finally have their first All-Star-caliber first baseman since Jason Giambi. Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation takes a look at the hard-hitting Chris Carter.
• This is a test: Dan Lependorf of the Hardball Times provides us with a necessary run-down of how MLB's drug-testing policy actually works. It's an enlightening read on a subject rife with ignorance.
• R.I.P., Mac Thomason: Mac Thomason was one of the original baseball bloggers (so original that he was blogging on the Braves back in the days of Compuserve). He recently passed away after a long battle with testicular cancer. He was just 41 years old. His friend remembers him. [Braves Journal]
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