Here Comes The Hurt Again

Alternate headline: Everybody Hurts (Sometime). If there's such a thing as momentum in sports — as if games are a rolling wheel of cheese and players are stumbling down a grassy English hill — then the Yankees just lost it on the eve of their most important series of the season. A.J. Burnett pitched eight strong innings and Frank Thomas singled home the winning run in the ninth as Toronto beat New York 2-1, ending the Yankees' seven-game winning streak.

Thanks to The Big Hurt, the Yankees' chances to win the East just got a little harder. But the bigger news is that, with 16 games remaining, the Yankees are still in it at all. They're only 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the East; 4 1/2 in the loss column. After a three-game series between the two beginning tonight in Boston, New York could find itself 2 1/2 back. Does that seem right? Could New York actually win this thing? I just kind of anointed the Red Sox as winners of the East a long while ago, and if they gag this up, it's going to leave me with a lot of mental paperwork. The schedule even favors the Yankees, who have six games with Baltimore and three with Tampa Bay among their 16 remaining. Boston has 15 games left, and closes the season against Oakland (two) and Minnesota (four). If you're going this weekend, by the way, Wang vs. Matsuzaka on Saturday is your best bet, one would think.

Fun At Safeco. With Will in the upper deck madly waving his Yuniesky Betancourt sign, the Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Pectoral-Finned Filter Feeders, 8-7, led by Betancourt's game-tying double in the eighth. The Mariners had to overcome a poor start by Jeff Weaver for their 41st comeback victory.

My Kind Of Town, Chicago Is. Chicago is back in sole possession of first place (later today they'll relinquish it; you know the drill), after a 6-2 win over the Astros. Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Daryle Ward and Cliff Floyd all homered for Chicago, which moved a half-game ahead of idle Milwaukee in the Central. The Cubs open a four-game series at third-place St. Louis tonight.

Oh, NOW The Phillies Bullpen Comes Through. Chase Utley (two-run homer) and five relievers combined to give Philadelphia a 12-4 win over the Rockies, who can pretty much forget about the playoffs now.