Morning Links:

Steve O Speak

Phillies Retake The Lead In the East: With yesterday’s win over the Marlins and the Braves losing to the Pirates, the Phillies have reclaimed 1st place. It has not been an easy year in Philadelphia, one that has been filled with injuries to a number of their top players and questionable decisions like the trading away of Cliff Lee. But through it all the Phillies have remained in the mix and the playoff hunt. Now they need to hold off the Braves for another 22 games, to win their third straight division title, and have the chance to redeem themselves in the postseason. While the Phillies are healthier now and have a little momentum, holding off the Braves won’t be easy. And the Wild Card race will likely go down to the wire as well, so if the Phillies don’t win the East there might not be a consolation prize.

Rays Knock Off Boston, And Close the Gap on the Yanks: With last night’s shellacking of the Red Sox and the Yankees loss to the Orioles, Tampa moved within a game and a half of the A.L. East lead. Also with the win over the Red Sox and the White Sox falling to the Tigers, the Rays are comfortably in the driver’s seat for the Wild Card. The Rays now hold at least a 7 game lead over both clubs, and it is now almost a guarantee that the Wild Card will come from the loser of the Yanks-Rays fight for the A.L. East. While the Yankees have more offense, I think the Rays’ pitchers will carry them down the stretch and they will edge out New York for the title.

Broncos Get Both Good and Bad News: Finally it appears as though 1st round pick Demaryius Thomas is healthy and ready to contribute as he returned to practice yesterday. While it remains to be seen how much of an impact he can have Week 1, he has the talent and potential to be something special this year for the Broncos. He is still raw, but there isn’t much talent ahead of him on the roster, and I do expect big things from Thomas. With all his missed time it might take awhile for him to adjust to the NFL, but his return to practice, and potentially being able to play this weekend is a great sign for Denver. On the negative side it appears as though RT Ryan Harris is definitely out this Sunday, meaning that rookie Zane Beadles will start in his place. Beadles has some talent and potential so it isn’t the end of the world, but boy are the injuries piling up for Denver. This could be a rough season to overcome for the Broncos, but the AFC West is a poach-able division.

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