Maybe the Yankees are better without Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

New York beat Baltimore, 8-3, in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, with A-Rod resting his sore thumb, and Jeter out with a swollen right knee after fouling one off his kneecap in the third inning of the first game (a 2-0 loss in which he set a team record by appearing his 2,402d contest in a New York uni, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle). Then they did it again Monday night.

Of course, on Sunday, Orioles starter Brian Matusz may have had something to do with it. The lefty, who has has lost seven straight decisions, gave up a three-run homer to Curtis Granderson in the third, then back-to-back dingers to Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher in the sixth, before being lifted for Chris Jakubauskas, who promptly gave up a homer to Andruw Jones.

It was the first time the Yanks had hit three successive homers since May 20, 2009. The opponent? The O's.

Rodriguez had an MRI on his thumb on Monday, with Yankees manager Joe Girardi saying the result "came out good," while downplaying the third baseman's chances of playing this week.

Jeter's bruised kneecap kept him out of Monday's 3-2 win over Baltimore, but Girardi had him in reserve. "He healed up pretty good," the skipper said before the game. "I can use him in case of an emergency."

Another source of worry

It doesn't surprise us that Phillies fans, despite rooting for a team with the best record in baseball, still fret about winning a pennant. Sure, they're six games up on the Atlanta Braves, but there's always that haunting fear: 1964 (six-and-a-half up with 12 games to go, ten straight losses). Though many current fans may have no direct memory of that traumatic collapse, it has seeped into the collective memory.

Well, there's more to worry about: those red-hot Milwaukee Brewers. points out that since 2007, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have combined for 344 home runs, most of any teammates in the majors. Next on the list: the Phillies' Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, with 309. This season so far, it's Braun-Fielder 54 HRs, Howard-Utley 36.

Long wait for Wrigley

The All-Star Game could be coming to Citizens Bank Park before it gets to Wrigley Field. The Chicago Tribune reports that commissioner Bud Selig is saying improvements to the Cubs' venerable home could take "a long time." As the Sporting News points out, NL teams host the Mid-Summer Classic in odd years, and with the 2013 game at the New York Mets' Citi Field (it will be nice for them to have a crowd there) and the Tribune theorizing that the Nationals, Phillies, Reds and Padres are next in line, it could be well into the '20s before Wrigley gets the showcase.

Strasburg watch

Looks like we could see Touch 'Em All (née High & Inside) perennial Stephen Strasburg back on the mound for the Washington Nationals sooner than we thought. The phenom, recovering from Tommy John surgery, had been making a tenuous return, going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in his first four minor-league starts in with single A.

Then, in a start for the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs on Saturday, he went five perfect innings against the Rochester Red Wings before giving up a couple of singles in the sixth, striking out seven while throwing in the mid-90s.

Now, the Washington Post speculates he could be starting against the Los Angeles Dodgers in D.C. on Sept. 6 after one more rehab game in Harrisburg on Sept 1.

Contact staff writer Michael Harrington at
This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.