Who Needs Milestones When You Have the Playoffs to Think About?

Who Needs Milestones When You Have the Playoffs to Think About? He's been closing in on history for a month. He made history this weekend. And still, you get the impression that if it wasn't for the media, Derek Jeter never would have even acknowledged it.

In the midst of a rain-marred slugfest with the visiting Orioles, the Yankees captain surpassed Lou Gehrig for the title of New York's all-time hits leader, knocking an opposite-field grounder to right field in the third inning on Friday evening. It was his 2,722nd hit, giving him one more than Gehrig.

The fans went nuts. The media went nuts. Jeter raised his helmet, then got back to business: helping his team focus enough to stay ahead of the Angels for the best record in baseball. Even on the night he further solidified himself as perhaps the greatest player in one of the world's greatest franchises, he had better things to think about.

"[A championship]'s what everyone's looking forward to," Jeter told The New York Daily News. "I enjoyed [breaking the record], but it's time for everyone here to make our focus winning games."

Jeter, often characterized as the consummate professional, knows individual accomplishments mean nothing if you're playing golf in October. While he certainly is respectful and somewhat awed by the implications of his accomplishment, one thing is for sure: He won't waste any time thinking about his place in history when he could be thinking about how to lead his team to its first championship since 2000.

After Monday night's win, the  Yankees are six games ahead of Los Angeles. Jeter has put his team in pretty good shape come the playoffs.

And there's nothing wrong with making a little history along the way — as long as you don't spend too much time talking about it.

Playoff Picture
AL East: New York Yankees (93-52)
AL Central: Detroit Tigers (77-66)
AL West: Los Angeles Angels (86-57)
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox (84-58)

Breakdown: Could the Red Sox finally be running away with the wild card? After a decisive three-game sweep of Tampa Bay this weekend, they pretty much axed the Rays from contention for a berth. Now, all they have to worry about is Texas, which dropped to four games back in the race after losing two of three to Seattle.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies (82-60)
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals (85-60)
NL West:
Los Angeles Dodgers (86-59)
NL Wild Card: Colorado Rockies (82-63)

Breakdown: The last time the Rockies and Giants faced off against one another, it was kind of a make-or-break series. Now, it really is. The Rockies are currently three games ahead of the Giants in the loss column, and if they sweep this week's three-game set in San Francisco, there's little hope of the Giants making a comeback. But if the Giants can sweep or grab a couple of wins, then this is a race again.


American League: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Few sluggers have been as consistent this season as Mauer has been for the Twins. The 26-year-old catcher, currently housing a .366 average with 27 homers and 84 RBIs, continues to light up opposing pitching despite the fact that his team is essentially out of contention for October. In seven games against Toronto and Oakland this week, Mauer went 9-for-24 with a .375 average, a .625 slugging percentage, one homer and four RBIs.

National League: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
This week, Prince Albert's average rests at .327 after six games against Milwaukee and Atlanta. He hit .375 with three homers and six RBIs while maintaining an .833 slugging percentage and a 1.298 OPS. During that span, the Cards swept Milwaukee, then were swept by the Braves.

Cy Young

American League: Zach Greinke, Kansas City Royals
This race is anything but over, but the AL's ERA leader has to be in contention. The 25-year-old finished the week with a 2.19 ERA and a 13-8 record in 29 starts. He faced the Angels on Sept. 5 and got slapped with the toughest of losses after going eight innings and giving up one unearned run. He righted the ship on Friday night, though, lasting seven innings and allowing one run on four hits against Cleveland. Between those two starts, his offense combined for just three total runs.

National League: Tim Lincecum
Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright
and Matt Cain could all give Lincecum a run for his money, but his consistency throughout the year is difficult to argue with. The 25-year-old has a 2.34 ERA to go with a 13-5 record and a league-best 233 strikeouts. This week, he also took a frustrating loss after submitting seven innings of two-run ball in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies. He struck out 11 in the effort.

Rookie of the Year

American League: Jeff Neimann, Tampa Bay Rays
The 26-year-old hurler was drafted by the Rays in the first round of the 2004 draft, and the fourth-overall pick is certainly paying off now. In 26 starts, he is 12-5 with a 3.57 ERA. (Records can be deceiving, but regardless, that's better than both Matt Garza and James Shields, the alleged aces of the staff.) He faced the Yankees this week and took the loss but surely didn't deserve it; in seven innings, he allowed one run on eight hits while fanning eight.

National League: Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves
The 23-year-old is 9-3 with a 2.83 ERA in his first season in the big leagues, providing some much-needed stability to the Braves staff. Continuing with this week's pitching trend, Hanson took a no-decision after submitting a stellar start against the Astros: eight innings, zero runs, five hits and seven strikeouts.

Weekly Wonders

American League: Julio Borbon, Texas Rangers
As Texas continues its push for the AL wild card, Borbon has certainly added some extra pop to the offense. In the last seven days, the rookie  has gone 8-for-21 with three homers and six RBIs. Two of those homers came during Game 1 of a crucial doubleheader against Cleveland.

National League: Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies
Red Sox fans definitely recognize the Pedro that took the hill against the Mets on Sunday night; Phillies fans just got an unexpected surpise. The 37-year-old ace submitted a complete game, allowing zero earned runs and six hits while lowering his ERA to 2.87. His 130 pitches were the most he has thrown in eight years, and he is still unbeaten in seven starts for the Phillies.

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