The Juice is going strong in its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.
Triple threat: B.J. Upton hit three home runs in Tampa Bay's 6-0 win over Texas on Sunday. But James Shields threw a complete game shutout, allowing only two hits while striking out eight and walking none. So who, pray tell, should get the game ball?
If you were paying attention in the mid-'90s, the answer is an easy one. Chicks — as well as Upton's sterling starting pitcher and most of the rest of us — dig the long ball.
''He's player of the game as far as I'm concerned,'' Shields told reporters. ''Three home runs in one game ... He's really locked in right now. He's one of the guys that, I told everyone this year, he's my pick to click and he's really showing it down the stretch here.''
Upton had a chance to go for his fourth home run of the day in the eighth, but broke his bat on a grounder. The free agent-to-be couldn't have stayed that upset, though. Not only did the Rays pull to within a game of a wild-card spot heading into this week's series with Baltimore, but Upton was later the beneficiary of some off-field luck when a fan found his wallet and returned it to him via Twitter. "A good day," Upton said.
Charm City split: The good news for the Yankees is that they salvaged a split in their four-game series against the Orioles with a 13-3 win at Camden Yards. Better yet, the victory ended the season series at 9-9, an important detail considering the O's would have received home-field advantage in a wild-card playoff or tiebreaker had they won on Sunday. Home-field advantage will now be decided by the better division record, but the bad news is that the Yankees might not have Mark Teixeira around to primp that record up over the final few weeks. He'll have an MRI on his left calf on Monday and his return this season is in question.
Driver's seat: Coming into this weekend's series in San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Magic Johnson instructed his team on Twitter to "let's get that win!" He couldn't have expected his team to take him so literally, though. San Francisco's 4-0 win behind Barry Zito and Buster Posey gave the Giants a victory in the three-game series and a commanding 5 1/2-game lead in the NL West.
Something's gotta give: The White Sox lost two of three to the Royals over the weekend while the Tigers were swept by the Angels in Anaheim. The two teams have combined to win only seven of their past 20 games (three of Detroit's four wins came against Chicago, which leads the Tigers by two games in the standings) but they'll meet for a four-game series at The Cell starting Monday night. Though a wild-card spot is probably out of the question as a consolation prize for either team, the winner can take solace in avoiding the wild-card play-in game. That almost seems unfair given the caliber of competition in the wild-card race right now, but dem's the rules.
You're doing it wrong: The Pirates couldn't have screwed it up any worse this weekend after being gifted with a three-game series against a Cubs team that was coming off a four-game humiliation in Washington. Chicago's 4-2 win on Sunday gave the Cubs a series sweep and increased the suspicion the Pirates might be headed to their most spectacular fall to a sub-.500 season yet. They only need to go 9-14 the rest of the way to finish with 81 wins, but then again, all they needed to do was win a few games from the Cubs this season. Five of Chicago's six road wins in the second half have come at PNC Park.
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Quote of the day
''Every game right now is like do-or-die, so that's kind of cool."
— Angels pitcher Zack Greinke, who pitched seven strong innings in a 3-2 win over Detroit. Los Angeles is a season-high 14 games over .500 but is still one game out of a wild-card spot.
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Photo of the day: Semper fi
A big group of Marine recruits took in the Padres' 8-2 victory over the Diamondbacks and it looks like they all wanted candy from the Padres pep squad. How sweet.
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Three facts for the water cooler
• Houston won its first road series since early June with a 5-1 win in Cincinnati. The Reds, meanwhile, have lost back-to-back series for the first time since late June.
• The red-hot Brewers haven't been at .500 since April 24. They almost got there on Sunday, but fell 3-2 in extra innings to the Cardinals.
• A 4-3 win clinched Toronto its first season series victory against Boston since 2006.
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• The Knicks may rehire Isiah Thomas, but the work (good and bad) is mostly done.