Player of the Week: Matt Holliday

As the centerpiece of the Rockies and top-tier NL MVP candidate, Holliday put up big numbers last week to help Colorado stay in the thick of the postseason chase. Over a seven-game stretch, Holliday went 11-for-26 (.423) with six homers, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Holliday hit at least one home run in five of those games, including a two-homer outing against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 11 in which he drove in three runs and scored three times. For the season, Holliday is batting .340 with 35 home runs and 130 RBIs.

BASEBALL STORY LINES

1.1 Message to the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets: Objects in the mirror are as big as they appear. The Red Sox and Mets have spent nearly the entire season in the driver’s seat of their respective divisions, but with the regular season down to 10 days left, both teams appear in danger of coughing up big leads to hated rivals. In the AL East, the second-place New York Yankees have beaten the Red Sox nine out of the past 12 times they have faced each other, clearly exposing weaknesses in Boston’s vaunted bullpen during the process. In the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies, behind Jimmy Rollins and an explosive offense, have beaten the first-place Mets eight straight times. While the Yankees-Red Sox battle is more about psyche than playoff berths (the loser is a virtual lock for the wild card), the Phillies could knock the Mets out of the postseason party — or even claim the wild card over San Diego.

2. Hmmm, lets see. Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez,Frank Thomas and now Jim Thome — what notable player hasn’t reached some sort of home run milestone this season? Thome became the 23rd and latest member of the 500 club when he hit a dramatic, two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning to give his Chicago White Sox a 9-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. Following A-Rod and Thomas, Thome became the third player this season to hit his 500th homer. It was the 28th home run of the year for Thome (he has since reached 30), who first broke into the majors in 1991 with Cleveland.

3. With his team in last place and his plate appearances becoming rarer with each passing game, the Giants’ Barry Bonds is still making headlines, albeit with him completely uninvolved in the matter. Mark Ecko, the fashion designer who bought Bonds’ 756th home run ball at an auction for more than $750,000, has decided to leave it up to the public to settle on the record-breaking ball’s fate. Ecko has set up a Web site where people can vote on three final resting places for the ball — unfettered in the Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown with an asterisk or in outer space, courtesy of one-way rocket ship journey. Ecko said he will follow through with the voters’ decision once polling closes Wednesday.

— Will Reisman

KEY SERIES

Dodgers at Diamondbacks (Today-Sunday): The D’backs’ precarious hold on the NL West will be challenged this weekend. Arizona has fashioned a fine season by riding the arms of its outstanding pitching staff, led by Brandon Webb, and finding ways to win the close games, but its utter lack of offense may come back to haunt the D’backs.

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