Three playoff-bound teams lost to opponents that scored in double-digits tonight. The Yankees lost 13-2 to Chicago in Yankees Stadium (and allowed 8 runs in the ninth). Minnesota was defeated 12-5 in Cleveland. And Florida scored six in the first inning off of Greg Maddux (his worst 1st inning ever) en route to a 13-3 trouncing of the Braves. Each game was painful for these teams in different, fundamental ways.
The Braves have been sailing of late, but they one thing that they do not need is a question mark in their rotation. Maddux lasted only two after being pulled for a pinch-hitter and allowed 7 runs, all earned. Maddux has been pitching well all year, but this calls into question his low innings-per-game numbers in the second half (under 6 per start). He had just completed a three-game stretch in which he had allowed only 1 run in 22 innings and which included a 9-inning (of shutout ball in the eventual 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh) and an 8-inning outing, his two longest of the second half. He topped out at 100 pitches in only one of these games, but it may be that he is tiring. The Braves should closely monitor him over the next few starts to get him ready for the playoffs.
The Yankees really need Mariano Rivera back now. They (surprisingly) failed to pick up a veteran reliever before the waiver deadline and now are stuck with their conglomeration for the playoffs. Ramiro Mendoza allowed five runs (4 earned) in 1-1/3 innings tonight. He may soon sputter out with the overuse that he has suffered: He has pitched in 7 of the last 15 Yankee games. That's not as bad as his being used in 8 of 11 games at the end of July and the beginning of August, but they need to get him some rest. Steve Karsay and Mike Stanton are overworked themselves, and the other available arms have not produced-besides Torre has no confidence in them. Did I mention that they need Rivera back?
If you think Greg Maddux' line is bad, check out the Twins' Eric Milton: 1-2/3 innings, 8 hits, 9 runs (all earned), 1 walk,1 K, and 3 home runs. That's a game score of 3, the lowest I can remember seeing. It is his third straight poor outing (no more than four innings) since returning from the DL. He may still be hurting. It's starting to seem that Rick Reed, Joe Mays, and Brad Radke, who are pitching well, will have to be their rotation in the playoffs.