Four of the five teams set for the National League playoffs look entrenched in their roles. The Nationals have a seven game lead on the Braves in the NL East. The Dodgers and Cardinals both have two game leads in the NL West and Central divisions, respectively. The Giants have a 2.5 game lead on the Brewers for the top Wild Card. And then, there’s the NL’s second Wild Card. Milwaukee is currently in that position, leading the Braves by 1.5 games and the Pirates by two games, but they’ve lost seven in a row and ten out of their last 12. The Braves are 4-6 in their last ten games, but have scored a total of one run in their last four games. The Pirates are an incredibly streaky team, and have currently lost three straight – after winning four straight prior to that. So, is the door open for another team to swoop in? Well…maybe. No other team in the league is above .500, and both the Marlins and Reds are struggling. Maybe the Padres, who are five games under .500, but are 25-17 since the All-Star Break and went 16-11 in August, can make the best of a weak-looking September and sneak into the playoffs. We’ll see what happens.
Game of the Night: Mariners 6, Athletics 5. This game almost turned ugly for Seattle. They led 6-0 going into the bottom of the eighth, and James Paxton was cruising. Things got ugly in the eighth, when Derek Norris led off with a single and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Paxton then walked Nate Freiman, forced Geovany Soto to ground into a double play, and walked Josh Reddick. Yoervis Medina replaced him, and pinch hitter Adam Dunn singled in Norris to make it 6-1. After a wild pitch moved Reddick and pinch runner Eric Sogard into scoring position, Craig Gentry hit a ground-rule double to bring them both in and make it 6-3. Jed Lowrie struck out to end the inning, but the ninth wasn’t much prettier. Fernando Rodney struck out both Josh Donaldson and Stephen Vogt to start the inning, but Norris started the rally again with a double. Brandon Moss followed up with a double of his own to make it 6-4, and Sam Fuld hit a ground-rule double to make it 6-5. But Reddick grounded out to end the game, keeping the rally just short of success.
Pitching Lines of the Night: In the Dodgers’ 4-1 win over the Nationals, Clayton Kershaw allowed one run on three hits in eight innings, walking two and striking out eight. Kyle Kendrick dominated the hapless Braves in Philly’s 4-0 win, giving up three hits in seven shutout innings, walking two and striking out four. Bud Norris pushed the Orioles to a 5-4 win over the Reds, tossing six scoreless frames while allowing four hits, walking one, and punching out seven. The Padres walked off on the Diamondbacks 2-1, and Odrisamer Despaigne gave up one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out four without a walk. R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays topped the Rays 8-2, thanks to Dickey allowing two runs on two hits in seven innings, walking three and punching out six. Derek Holland pitched well in his first start of the year as the Rangers fell to the Royals 2-1, allowing one run on six hits in seven innings, striking out six without a walk.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In San Francisco’s 12-7 win over Colorado, Buster Posey went 3/5 with two doubles, a homer, three runs, and four RBI. Jose Altuve kept doing Jose Altuve things in Houston’s 8-3 win over the Angels, going 4/5 with a double, a homer, two runs, two RBI, and a stolen base. A day after I called him the worst hitter in the AL in August, Xander Bogaerts led the Red Sox to a 9-4 win over the Yankees by going 4/5 with a double, a homer, and two RBI. Tyler Flowers helped the White Sox beat the Twins 6-3 in ten innings, going 2/5 with two homers and four RBI. Juan Lagares went 4/4 with a double, three runs, two RBI, a walk, and two stolen bases for the Mets in their 8-6 win in Miami, while David Wright went 3/4 with two doubles, two runs, and three RBI.
Other Games: The Tigers beat the Indians 4-2 thanks to a three-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the ninth inning. The Cubs beat the Brewers 7-1. The Cardinals topped the Pirates 6-4.
Today’s Games: Ervin Santana and the Braves host the Phillies. Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals take on the Dodgers. Ryan Vogelsong takes the hill for the Giants in Denver. Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester will duel in Oakland. Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees take on the Red Sox. Jacob deGrom and the Mets take on the Marlins. Chris Archer and the Rays host the Blue Jays and Marcus Stroman. Matt Garza and the Brewers take on Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs. Jered Weaver gets the start for the Angels in Houston against Collin McHugh. Andrew Cashner and the Padres battle the Diamondbacks.
National TV: Nationals-Dodgers (3 PM, MLB Network), Giants-Rockies (3 PM, MLB Network), Red Sox-Yankees (7 PM, ESPN, of course), Diamondbacks-Padres (10 PM, ESPN)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.