Weekly MLB Report: Los Angeles Angels Lose Third Straight Series
While most of baseball's division leaders are comfortably ahead of the pack, the margin separating teams vying for the Wild Card spots is very tight. Here's what's happening in Major League Baseball:
Angels Lose Series to Mariners, Fall 8 Back of Rangers in AL West
After bolstering their rotation by acquiring pitcher Zack Greinke at the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Angels (60-55) expected to close ground on the Texas Rangers in the American League West. Instead, the Angels are eight games behind Texas after losing, 4-1, to Seattle on Sunday, as the Mariners' Jesus Montero homered twice off Jered Weaver. The defeat meant Los Angeles has now dropped three straight series and four of their last five. The Angels have also fallen 2.0 games out in the AL Wild Card chase. Manager Mike Scoscia met with the team behind closed doors after Sunday's game.
Orioles Rookie Manny Machado Homers Three Times in His First Four Games
An unlikely contender after 14 straight losing seasons, the Baltimore Orioles (62-53) are 5.5 games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East. After making no moves at the trade deadline, Baltimore looked for help from within their organization this week. The Orioles promoted 2010 first-round draft pick Manny Machado from Double-A Bowie to the big leagues, where he shifted from shortstop to third base. After going 6-for-16 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his first four games, Machado may be what the Orioles need to break away from the five teams challenging for two American League Wild Card berths.
Play of the Week: Jason Maxwell, Houston Astros
Though the Houston Astros have struggled in 2012, outfielder Jason Maxwell has still delivered several highlight reel catches. Watch him rob Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals of extra bases during Thursday's game in Houston.
Chris Sale Wins 14th Game for White Sox
Pitcher Chris Sale struck out 11 batters in 6 2-3 innings, as the Chicago White Sox (62-51) beat the Oakland A's, 7-3, on Sunday. The victory pushed the White Sox lead in the American League Central to 2.0 games over the Detroit Tigers. The two rivals are expected to stage the American League's only true divisional race from now through the end of the regular season.
Pirates Avoid Sweep As NL Wild Card Race Tightens
Second baseman Neil Walker went 5 for 5 on Sunday and shortstop Clint Barmes hit a grand slam, as the Pittsburgh Pirates (64-50) beat the San Diego Padres, 11-5, to avoid being swept at home. Now 4.5 games behind Cincinnati in the National League Central, Pittsburgh currently holds the second NL Wild Card position, but the Cardinals and Dodgers are each just 2.5 games out.
Upcoming Series To Watch: Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants
Two National League division leaders square off in a three-game set beginning on Monday night in San Francisco. The NL East-leading Washington Nationals (71-44) have baseball's best record because of a pitching staff with a major-league leading ERA of 3.22. Thanks to players like Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey, both of whom are in the top five in NL hitting, the San Francisco Giants (63-52) are in first place in the NL West and tied for third in team batting average.
Fantasy Player to Add: John Jay, St. Louis Cardinals
In the midst of a seven-game hitting streak, John Jay has gone 15-for-28 (.536) with six runs scored, two doubles, four RBIs and two stolen bases. It's time to find room for him somewhere on your roster.
Fantasy Player To Drop: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks
If you are one of the many fantasy owners still waiting for Justin Upton to start producing great offensive numbers in 2012, it's time to face the facts. Upton has just one home run and one steal in 11 games in August. He's hitting .273, but you can get better production than that out of almost any starting outfielder.