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Marty's Musings: the East tightens

Rumors of the Yankees' demise appear to have been slightly exaggerated.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to ‘Marty's Musings', my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball and looking forward to this week's key matchups. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and previewing some of this week's key matchups, identifying numbers that are generally not found in a standard box score.

In this week's edition, a manager makes an historic pitching change, the Yankees finally sweep a series (their most important of their year!), the Cardinals set a pinch hit record, and a surprising pitcher threw the best game in Rockies history; it's all in this week's Musings.

Numbers

21 - Consecutive batters retired by the Dodgers' Rich Hill who threw seven perfect games before getting the hook due to concerns about his blister problem. Dave Roberts admitted that he lost sleep over the decision but maintained that at this point in the season, the Dodgers have to ready themselves for October, during which time a healthy Hill will be imperative. It is the first time in the modern era that a manager relieved a perfect pitcher through seven innings.

1 - Three game series sweep for the Yankees this year, which came against the Toronto Blue Jays last week. The sweep propelled the Yankees to only a handful of games behind the Jays and New York controls a lot on their own as they have 14 of their remaining 24 games against Baltimore/Boston/Toronto. They currently sit in fourth place in a crowded AL East that is only separated by a handful of games.

6/2 - The last time Boston was in first place all alone prior to last Thursday. With an Orioles and Blue Jays loss, Boston gained a game on both the team ahead of them and the team behind them. The Red Sox are two games up on the Jays going into Monday night.

6.7 - The Mets' playoff odds percentage as of a month ago per FanGraphs. Today New York sits just a half game up in the wildcard race over the Cardinals. Their current FanGraphs playoff odds have them at 69.3 percent.

15 - Pinch-hit home runs this season for the St. Louis Cardinals, who buried the Pirates in a series win that included a Matt Carpenter pinch hit walkoff. The Cards continue to chase down the Mets in the wildcard race while the Pirates are absconding to below-.500 oblivion.

97 - Game score for Colorado pitcher Chad Bettis in a dominant Labor Day performance against the Giants. Bettis threw a complete-game two-hitter and struck out seven while walking zero. Although the Rockies are not playoff bound in 2016, they can play spoiler as they have games against both California rivals.

.217/.287/.348- The Giants slash line so far in September. The Giants had a six-game lead on the Dodgers at one point, but a double-digit swing has them trailing LA by three games. San Francisco is now struggling for their playoff lives.

5 - Home runs given up by Diamondback Zack Greinke in his first start in Los Angeles since his free agent departure. Despite the Dodgers roughing up Greinke in his ‘homecoming', it was rumored they were still interested in perhaps trading for his services.

25 - Consecutive games with at least one home run for the Cardinals. The Pirates broke the streak when they salvaged the last of their three-game series. Yadier Molina crushed his fourth career grand slam in game 25, which tied a National League record for consecutive games with a home run.

What to Watch

Monday, September 12

Wade Miley (BAL) v. David Price (BOS)

A huge three-game showdown at Fenway pits former Red Sox (mediocre) pitcher Wade Miley against their current Ace. Price has been excellent through the summer and in his last half dozen starts has 42 Ks in 43 innings and a 2.09 earned run average. The Orioles are feeling pressure not only from the top but the Yankees are right on their heels as well.

Tuesday, September 13

Noah Syndergaard (NYM) v. AJ Cole (WAS)

Although the division is out of the question for the Mets, they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a wildcard race. Thor took the hard-luck loss even though he gave up only two runs over seven innings in his last start against DC.

Wednesday, September 14

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) v. Michael Pineda (NYY)

In an interleague matchup that still brings some fun to it, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw hopes to get in another good start before the playoffs while the Yankees continue to claw their way up the American League East.

Wednesday, September 14

Jon Lester (CHC) v. Carlos Martinez (STL)

The last game of a three-game set against the Cubs, the Cardinals are looking to keep pace with the Mets while also taking some momentum into an important match-up with the Giants.

Thursday, September 15

Johnny Cueto (SF) v. Adam Wainwright (STL)

The start of an important four game series pits two veterans against one another in a series that is for their respective teams' playoff lives.

Thursday, September 15

Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) v. Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)

A huge four-game series in Boston kicks off with the Yankees ace taking the hill against ERod. Anything less than a split will be a major setback for a surging Yankees team.

Pitching Matchups based on early week probables

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano