The Lineup: Ichiro of old shows up in Bronx, C.J. Wilson comes up small
Ichiro Suzuki recorded seven hits in the Yankees' doubleheader sweep of the Blue Jays on Wednesday, while Angels lefty C.J. Wilson couldn't make it out of the third inning against his old team.
|Ichiro Suzuki was the first Yankee to have four hits and four steals in one game since 1988. (AP)|
While some teams are chasing playoff berths, on the other end of the spectrum there are teams just waiting for the 2012 season to end. With losses Thursday, the Red Sox clinched a losing season, the Indians fell into last place and the Pirates dropped to .500. But it wasn't all bad news...
Ichiro Suzuki , New York Yankees : Circa 2004 Ichiro was on display at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, as the future Hall of Famer went 7 for 8 in the team's doubleheader sweep over the Toronto Blue Jays . After going 3 for 4 in the first game, he was 4 for 4 in the nightcap and stole four bases to boot. The four steals tied a team record and he became the first Yankee to record four hits and four steals in a game since Rickey Henderson in 1988.
Liam Hendriks , Minnesota Twins : The Australian right-hander picked up his first career victory in his 18th start Wednesday in Cleveland Indians . His streak of 17 winless starts to begin a career is tied for third-longest since 1920. He went six innings, giving up two runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts to boot.
Ryan Howard , Philadelphia Phillies : For the first time in his career, Howard hit a go-ahead home run with two outs in the ninth inning. His two-run shot off of the New York Mets ' Josh Edgin was his first hit off a lefty reliever this season. Overall, he entered the game hitting just .163/.209/.300 against left-handers with 38 strikeouts in 86 plate appearances.
David DeJesus , Cubs: The Cubs' right fielder overran Brandon Phillips ' pop up with two outs in the 11th, allowing Phillips to advance to second. The next batter, Drew Stubbs , followed with his third hit of the night, an RBI single to give Cincinnati Reds a 6-5 lead and eventual victory. It was Stubbs' first RBI since Aug. 22. In DeJesus' defense, the wind was bad at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night, but it still hit his glove and should have been caught.
Daniel Bard , Red Sox: The Boston Red Sox right-hander has been awful since returning from his demotion to the minor leagues. On Wednesday, he gave up three runs on a hit and three walks while recording just one out. He's allowed at least one earned run in all five of his outing since rejoining the team on Aug. 31. In those five appearances, he's allowed nine runs on eight hits with five walks in just 3 1/3 innings. Batters are hitting .500 against him (8 for 16) with three home runs. His was just part of Boston's problem against the Tampa Bay Rays , as Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted just three innings and Aceves and Bard combined to give up seven runs. Boston fell to 68-82, clinching their first losing season since 1997.
C.J. Wilson , Los Angeles Angels : The left-hander didn't make it out of the third inning in his start Wednesday night against his former team. With the Angels' backs up against the wall, Wilson came up small, giving up three runs on four hits with three walks in just 2 2/3 innings. In five starts against Texas Rangers this season, Wilson is 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA.
Walking the plank: At this point, any realistic playoff hopes for the Pirates are dashed and they're just playing for the final record -- and for no team is that more important. With Wednesday's loss to the Milwaukee Brewers , Pittsburgh Pirates fell to 74-74 on the season. Pittsburgh hasn't been below .500 this season since May 29, when they fell to 24-25 on the season. Without a .500 finish to the season, the Pirates will lose more than they've won for the 20th consecutive season. 4:05 p.m. ET
Central battle: Wednesday's loss to the Kansas City Royals coupled with Detroit Tigers 's victory shrunk Chicago Cubs 's lead in the AL Central to just two games. Now they face the Royals' Jeremy Guthrie , who is 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his last eight starts, including eight shutout innings against the White Sox on Sept. 9. 8:10 p.m. ET
Pair of aces? Despite overall numbers that may not live up to expectations, both Rangers starter Yu Darvish and Zack Greinke of the Angels have looked like aces as of late. In Darvish's last six starts, he's 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA, while Greinke is 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA in his last five starts. The Angels are more or less out of the AL West race, but are just 3.5 games behind the A's for the second wild card spot. 10:05 p.m. ET
• Bigger picture: There are few columnists I enjoy reading more than Yahoo's Jeff Passan. Whether I agree with him or not, he always makes me think. In his latest, Passan argues the discussion around Yunel Escobar is the wrong one. We shouldn't be asking if we're offended by his words, but we should instead be celebrating those fighting against the ignorance and intolerance that Escobar now symbolizes.
• Surefire ejection: What to know an easy way to get ejected from a baseball game? Play "Three Blind Mice." It happened earlier this season in the minors, but that wasn't the first time. Slate looks at the history of the song that gets under the skin of umpires.
• The Corner: SABR isn't just numbers and stuff -- it's about appreciating the history of the game. On the organization's website is a great history of Tiger Stadium. Go forth and learn.
• Pitcher protection? Should Major League Baseball do more to protect pitchers from head injuries? [Time]
• Funnyball: Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond is a big baseball fan and was a high school teammate of San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Hammond's dad was their coach. [MLB.com]
• Dominican program: Major League Baseball announced it would provide released minor leaguers from the Dominican Republic with an opportunity to enroll in education programs to help them after their playing career is over. [MLB.com]
• Gift for the kid with everything: St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter gave his daughter the rib that he had surgically removed earlier this season. Apparently she asked for it -- I'd rather have an iPad. [Big League Stew]