Pirates - There was celebration when the Bucs won their 81st game of the season, meaning that for the first time since 1992. Unfortunately, that was Tuesday. Since then, they've:
- Lost four straight by a combined score of 35-13
- Seen their ace, Francisco Liriano, shelled (3 IP, 7 ER, 7 H, 2 BB)
- Seen last year's ace, AJ Burnett, also shelled (3 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 1 BB)
- Seen their best pitcher in the second half, Charlie Morton, not only shelled (1.2 IP, 5 ER, 6H, 2 BB) but also injured (he left the game with "left foot discomfort")
- Lost their lead to St. Louis, which swept them
- Fell to 1.5 games out of first, their biggest deficit since August 27
- Fell into a tie for second with the Reds, the first time since June 20 that they haven't had sole possession of first or second
The pitching blowup is worrisome, of course, especially if Morton's hurt. They're still virtually certain of making the postseason: they're 8 ahead of Washington and 9 ahead of Arizona for the wild card. But they're not looking like a team that's going to go far.
Rangers and Rays - Texas and Tampa Bay seem to be in a competition to blow the AL wild card. Each lost two of three over the weekend to weak teams (Angels and Mariners, respectively). It's probably not time to push the panic button yet, but one of the teams trailing them, Cleveland (2 back, along with Baltimore), has a comically weak schedule the rest of the way (home-and-road series against Kansas City and Chicago, plus four at home against Houston and four on the road against Minnesota) while Texas has only three more games against sub-.500 teams and Tampa Bay has just six. Tampa Bay's last in the league in runs over the past two weeks, while Texas is 10th in both runs scored and runs allowed in the AL over the same period.
Yankees - They're also not out of it yet, at 2.5 back, and nine of their last twelve games are against teams with losing records, but man, getting beat up at home against Boston--losing 3 of 4, allowing 34 runs in the losses--doesn't make you feel great about the prospects for a team that's 20th in on base percentage, 25th in slugging, and whose shortstop still hasn't recovered from an ankle injury 11 months ago.