Of the dozen or so teams that either flirted with, sales hospital or owned division leads as the season entered its midterm this week– Yankees, Rays, Royals, Twins, Astros, Rangers, Nationals, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants – we know one that can be ruled out of playoff contention. You won’t hear a concession speech from the team’s GM, or read in the local media that it has next to no chance. Attentive Mets fans know the reality: after starting the home season with an 11-game winning streak (14-4 overall), the team’s record since then, as of this morning, is a woeful 19-25. Those same observant fans also know that owners of the big-market franchise, still reeling from Madoff investments, have been content to spend like paupers. The story of the team’s over-reliance on starting pitching at the expense of hitting depth is bemoaned throughout Mets-land. In a hype-free universe, GM Sandy Alderson could connect with fans by being honest. Things haven’t gone as he had hoped, he could say, the prolonged absence of David Wright has been particularly hurtful. But the team’s future r remains bright. And there’s always the chance of a miracle – the possibility, however remote, that the Nationals will experience prolonged problems of their own.
Precarious Love: On the presidential electoral field, Hillary Clinton is to her Dem team opponents what the Nationals (with the MLB’s sixth richest payroll) are to the rest of the NL East. She has to make a greater effort of her own to connect with voters, to – in the words of National Journal’s Charlie Cook – “come across as more open and approachable, and to stop giving journalists so many easy shots to make her look bad. Contrary to what most conservatives believe, the vast majority of reporters have not been in the tank for the Clintons since the mid-1990’s, and many rather enjoy taking shots at them. A certain amount of that is inevitable, but why invite bad stories and encourage hostility? Right now, Democrats seem mostly OK with putting all of their eggs in the Clinton basket, though concerns are growing as to the durability of the basket. But the Clintons should not mistake Democrats getting in line for them falling in love.”
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Friday Night in Boston: “(John) Farrell was remarkably calm after (the Sox blew an 8-1 lead in losing 13-10 to Toronto) and found a silver lining in his team’s positive mood in the dugout during the collapse. ‘The life is there, there’s energy, there’s a lot of pulling for one another,’ he said. They will need more than that if the 27-35 Red Sox are to be heard from in October.” – Boston Herald
Frustrated No More: Josh Donaldson has already hit 17 HRS for the Blue Jays; he hit 29 all of 2014 while playing for the A’s. He told SI’s Albert Chen about the difference between playing in the Oakland and Toronto ballparks: “One of the toughest things to deal with as a hitter, especially if you’re a guy who drives the ball out of the ballpark, is when you feel like you hit one on the screws and it has a chance to go out and it doesn’t go out. When it happens more times than it should, then you start talking about confidence and start talking about start changing things, and without a doubt, depending on the score of the game and what you wanted to do, you start changing things. There are just a lot of factors that go into it. Here, you take a lot of those factors out because I know for the most part that if I hit a ball well, it’s going to go out.”
Stat City: The current top three elite pitchers: Gerrit Cole, Pirates, Sonny Gray, Athletics, Chris Archer, Tampa Bay. Cole is 9-2, with a 1.73 ERA, and 86 K’s in 78 innings; Gray, 7-3, 1.74, 79 K’s in 88; Archer, 7-4, 1.84; 108 K’s in 83.
Streakers: Blue Jays +9, Orioles +5
(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)