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Original Issue

Three Strikes

SI's senior baseball writer takes you further inside the game. This is just a taste of what you'll get online.

1 Kansas City manager Ned Yost got a little carried away this week when he talked about Zack Greinke(below) and the Royals making a run for first place in the AL Central. "Why can't we make a run?" he mused. The short answer is that no team in the wild-card era has ever made the playoffs after reaching the All-Star break with a record as bad as the Royals have today (39--49, 10 games under .500, 10½ games out).

2 Many of the trade rumors involving pitcher Cliff Lee had a premium catcher prospect going back to the Mariners, a team whose catchers had combined to hit .205 with five home runs. But Seattle was too smart to lock in on finding a catcher, instead prioritizing long-term offensive skills and snagging rookie first baseman Justin Smoak from the Rangers, who on his own is hitting .205 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs.

3 There are only two teams left in baseball that play their home games on artificial surface, the Rays and the Blue Jays. But Toronto, the only one without a dirt infield, forfeits any advantage of the surface with a style of baseball that is decidedly old-school American League ball.