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They are underway in Saint Louis. After one inning, a two-out solo blast to straightaway centre by Albert Pujols has given the Cards a 1-0 lead.

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble; give a whistle!
And this'll help things turn out for the best...


And so it comes to an end. Soon, 161 games will be in the books, and then it'll all finally be over: the disappointment, the frustration, the heartache, the anger, the finger-pointing, and the general unpleasantness. And that was just the Game Threads. [rimshot]
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The Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat Detroit last night, a victory no doubt celebrated with champagne in the front office at Tropicana Field. With the win, the D-Rays assured themselves of escaping the AL East basement and finishing fourth for the first time in their brief history. The win also guaranteed another fact: with their worst record in 23 years, the Toronto Blue Jays are going to finish Dead Freakin' Last in 2004. They will choose either 4th, 5th or 6th in next June's draft, depending on the Expos and Brewers' final weekend performances. Welcome, in other words, to rock bottom.

Now, for Jays fans, this indisputably stinks. But if you're the kind of person who likes to find just one thing to feel positive about: try this: this is only the second time Toronto has finished last in any full season since 1982. Since then, the DFL position has been apportioned thus:

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As October begins, the Blue Jays return to Toronto to start their last home series of the year. Less than six months ago, they were about to start their first Skydome series of 2004, against the lowly Detroit Tigers. Attitudes and expectations could not be more different today than they were then.
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The Jays hope to salvage a split in the 4-game series and retain a faint hope of catching the Devil Rays for 4th place. The Rays were smoked by the Detroit Tigers 8-0 this afternoon and are tied 4-4 in the 8th of the second game of their doubleheader. The Jays sit 2 games behind Tampa Bay with 4 games to go.
For those of you who were not able to see Gustavo Chacin pitch last time out, you're in for a treat. Provided, of course, that he looks like the same pitcher I saw making his major league debut last week.

There are two distinct features in Chacin's delivery:

1) He has a hitch near the beginning of the windup which some observers think is a balk. By the rules, it is indeed, since he comes to a stop and restarts his motion. But since this is his normal full wind-up (and is not used with runners on base) the umpires will probably let it go.

2) He throws out his glove hand where the ball will come flying out from before his pitching arm comes forward; this probably distracts the hitter just a little bit. It looks a little like a windmill.
Ted Lilly's normal turn was to fall on the final day of the regular season. With the rainout, Ryan Glynn is now scheduled to get the last start for the Blue Jays, while Lilly makes the final start of an impressive season in Baltimore today.
**** POSTPONED ****


Magic is how I would describe Ted Lilly when he's on his game. A deceptively quick fastball, a killer change and a quality curve spell trouble for opponents when he's on - hitters tie themselves in knots trying to adjust to the changing speed and location of his repertoire.

Some scoffed when Lilly was chosen as the lone Blue Jays representative at the all-star game. But a strong case can be made that Lilly has not only been the most valuable pitcher on the team, but arguably the team MVP.

Lilly will start the final game of the season if he takes his regular rest, though stranger things have happened. This might be the last chance to see him in action before the curtain is drawn on a painful and disappointing campaign for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Many fans were getting tired of finishing third behind the Yankees and Red Sox. And they got their wish - Toronto won't finish 3rd; Baltimore will get that honour.

Last year the Orioles restocked their lineup with three big acquisitions - Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez and Rafael Palmeiro. As group they've done almost as well as could be expected, and yet it wasn't enough to get the O's to .500.

Just 6 more games after tonight.


... is 4th place.

At the dawn of the 2004 season, Lou Piniella said there was no way his Rays would finish last. Will they? Tune in at 6:15 ET for the next installment of the battle for the basement.
Thanks to a comeback victory in New York and a Devil Ray loss in a make-up game, the Jays can climb out of 5th tonight with a win.

Here are the updated "Draft Bowl" standings:

1. Arizona Diamondbacks 47-106 .307 ___
2. Kansas City Royals 56-96 .368 9.5
3. Seattle Mariners 58-94 .382 11.5
4. Milwaukee Brewers 63-88 .417 17.0
5. Washington "Expos" 64-89 .418 17.0
6. Toronto Blue Jays 64-88 .421 17.5
7. Tampa Bay Devil Rays 64-87 .424 18.0
8. New York Mets 67-86 .438 20.0
9. Colorado Rockies 67-85 .441 20.5
10. Pittsburgh Pirates 68-84 .447 21.5


Arizona's "Upton number" is 1 - they have clinched a tie for first pick overall.
The Jays have been shut down by the veteran Cuban Orlando Hernandez this year - to the tune of 17 IP, 9 hits, 6 walks, 20 strikeouts and no runs allowed in 3 starts. El Duque is undefeated in 13 starts with 8 wins to his credit this season overall. He might be the Yankees' best starting pitcher right now.
The word is that Doc will be limited to about 65 pitches, so getting through 4 innings against the patient Bronx Bombers will be considered a success. That means the bullpen will be front and centre today. Will we see Brandon League's major league debut tonight?
Due to scheduling changes caused by hurricane, today's sceduled off-day has been moved to Thursday. It seems that TSN, which was to broadcast the 3-game set in New York, will not pick up tonight's game. My Extra Innings package lists the game as being available - let's hope that holds up.

Gustavo Chacin, the lefthander who tore up the Eastern League in the second half and thus did more than any other Blue Jays farmhand to improve his stock since mid-season, will get the difficult starting assignment.

One up, one down for Miller.