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So, does anyone remember how we -- and I include myself -- were all sort of chuckling about how the Yankees were battling the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to stay out of the AL East cellar ... and there was all this fretting over Joe Torre possibly losing his job ... and we sort of snickered over the Yankees' desperation in signing Roger Clemens ... and New York had the Jason Giambi distraction ... and the Red Sox were building an INSURMOUNTABLE lead in the division.

Well, as that little kid said in the old horror movie a bunch of years ago, "They're b-a-a-a-c-k."

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Last night, the Yankees pummeled the Orioles, 12-0, as Mike Mussina (another guy we all figured was road kill) pitched seven scoreless. Since he was given a timeout in the bullpen, the former Oriole has now gone 12 2/3 innings without surrendering a run. Meanwhile, the Yanks are just 2 1/2 behind the Red Sox with 11 to go. And guess who the Yanks finish against. Yep, against the O's at Camden Yards. In a sense, the AL East title will go through Baltimore. Unfortunately, it'll be like the Superchief going through Podunk -- at full throttle without stopping.

*  Meanwhile in the National League, all three divisions are tightening up. The Phillies are now just 1 1/2 behind the Mets as New York can't seem to figure out Washington (or anyone else for that matter); the Cubs lost and the Brewers won so those two are tied in the Central; and Arizona is only a single game in front of the Padres in the West.

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