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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Weekend Buzz: Yanks getting stronger down the stretch


Yankee Curtis Granderson ups his run total to an MLB-best 113 with an inside-the-park HR. (Getty Images)  
Yankee Curtis Granderson ups his run total to an MLB-best 113 with an inside-the-park HR. (Getty Images)  

The Weekend Buzz while you and your dog were enjoying the last few lazy days of summer. ...

1. The Yankees are coming, the Yankees are coming: Saturday, the Twins whacked A.J. Burnett one last time before Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup for the first time in six weeks. Sunday, the Padres retired Trevor Hoffman's No. 51 in a moving ceremony crammed in while Hoffman was still holding off the Yankees' Mariano Rivera for the all-time saves lead (scoreboard: Hoffman 601, Rivera 592).

August is slipping into September, which means October isn't far behind, which means the world is about to be covered in pinstripes again. Don't look now, but while they continue to bitch about Burnett's inconsistency and other pitching issues in New York ("We need Phil Hughes!" "What was up with that six-man rotation?!" "Ah geez, what if CC Sabathia has a Cap'n Crunch relapse in the playoffs?"), the Yankees moved into first place a week ago and are only getting stronger.

Look, here comes A-Rod. Look, since returning from the disabled list on July 4, Derek Jeter is batting .339 with 10 doubles, two triples, two homers and 26 RBI in 39 games.

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My goodness, look, even Andruw Jones again looks more fit for a baseball diamond than a doughnut shop: after hitting .195 through the season's first half, he's batting .348 since with 10 walks in the second.

In perhaps the single most impressive statistic anywhere, not only does Curtis Granderson lead the majors in runs scored, but he's scored 23 more runs than the next-closest player, Toronto's Jose Bautista. Twenty-three!

Yes, the stars are getting healthy, only the Phillies have a better record and even karma again appears to be smiling on the Yanks.

Wednesday in Kansas City, they were hosed on a home run call when umpires, misinterpreting Kauffman Stadium ground rules, incorrectly ruled a home run for Billy Butler in a 5-4 Royals win.

So wouldn't you know it, Thursday in Minnesota, umps reversed an apparent Justin Morneau two-run homer in what turned out to be an 8-4 Yankees win. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected and all seemed normal again in baseball's big ol' goofy New York-centric world.

The Yankees, winners of 24 of their past 35 games, and Red Sox virtually have guaranteed themselves playoff spots already. When October arrives, maybe the best hope for Boston, Texas, Philly and anybody else to shove the Yankees aside will be the television schedule.

Because they move ratings needles, the Yankees surely again will be playing prime-time games. As opposed to afternoon games, in which they are an astounding 34-8 (.810) in 2011.

Yes, a major-league best.

2. Stormin' Gorman Thomas would be proud: The Brewers now have won 22 of their past 25 games and, since July 6, own the majors' best record at 31-10. In a related story, they also own the best bratwurst.

3. Fresh start for the Cubbies: In a seven-day span mercifully ending on Friday, the Cubs endured another Carlos Zambrano meltdown, locked him down on the Disqualified List and fired general manager Jim Hendry. So as owner Tom Ricketts begins the search for a new GM -- from outside the organization, Ricketts says -- the question now becomes: how will the Cubs screw this one up? Quick, short answer: By allowing Crane Kenney to bumble onward as club president when they should have blown him out long ago. Seriously, Pat Gillick is out there and you decline to investigate that possibility so Kenney can stay aboard?

4. Thome is our homie: Jim Thome's 600th homer came last Monday and, specifically for those who maybe haven't allowed the feat to sink in yet, chew on this: the next-closest active player to 600 is Chipper Jones, and he's 39 and at 448, he's 152 away. It's going to be a long, long time until anyone else takes a run at 600. Next closest in the 35-and-under category: the Cardinals' Albert Pujols, who has 438 at 31 years of age. Next closest in the 30-and-under category: the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who has 270 at 28.

5. Exile on Toledo's Main Street: That's where Brandon Inge had been for the past several weeks, banished to Triple-A. So Saturday, in his first Detroit at-bat since July 19, Inge crushed a homer and earned a standing ovation. Great moment in a great Motown weekend: when Austin Jackson's throw home nailed Kosuke Fukudome, it locked down a Tigers sweep and pushed the Indians to 4 1/2 games back in the AL Central. Clearly, it's now Detroit's race to lose.

6. Brian Wilson's beard to disabled list: Now, if only we could get those "Inside Brian Wilson's beard" TV commercials onto the DL, it would be for the greater good.

7. Jimmy Rollins' groin to DL? The Phillies shortstop is day to day after straining his right groin against Washington on Sunday. Tough to say which ails the Phils worse, Rollins' groin, Ryan Madson's meltdown Friday or another blown lead to the Nationals on Sunday.

8. Braves sweep Diamondbacks: Tim Hudson, Michael Bourn + Brian McCann = Snakecharmers?

9. Peter Bourjos, as in gorgeous: Swift Angels center fielder crushed a home run in each game of the Angels' three-game sweep of awful Baltimore, pulling Team Rally Monkey within sight again of the Rangers (four games back now). In Bourjos, Mike Trout and Hank Conger, the Angels are readjusting on the fly with a last-ditch youth movement that is starting to pay dividends. Bobby Abreu has become Bobby Who?

10. Trevor time: Beautifully done, Padres. In retiring legendary closer Trevor Hoffman's No. 51, the Padres presented him with a 1958 Cadillac and in a very cool move, tracked down video footage of Hoffman's late father, Ed, singing the national anthem on opening day 1981 in Fenway Park when Trevor's brother, Glenn, was with the Red Sox. Hoffman told his three boys during the ceremony, "One person doesn't deserve all of this."


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