By Sam McPherson
With just three weeks left in the regular season, Major League Baseball action is heating up as 16 teams chase down just 10 playoff spots. Here’s what you may have missed last week!
It was “Walk-off Week” in Washington
Twice in three days last week, the Washington Nationals stunned their opponent with walk-off wins at Nationals Park. On Wednesday, the Nats came back twice in late innings to tie the game against the visiting Atlanta Braves before winning in the 11th inning, and on Friday night, rookie Trea Turner stole the show.
The walk-off home run to dead center field gave the Nationals a win over the Philadelphia Phillies, and Turner’s two long balls were the key to victory. If anyone in the National League is going to take on the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs, it’s this Washington club with a similar kind of 2016 mojo.
The Giants finally post a winning week
It may seem like a silly thing to celebrate, but the San Francisco Giants will take it. After a brutal start to the second half which saw them win just 16 of 47 games after the All-Star break, the Giants managed to sweep the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks on the road over the weekend to win a series and clinch a winning week for the first time since early July. The team is still just 20-32 since the Midsummer Classic, but the Giants still can make the postseason if they can hang on to the National League wild-card chase lead. They currently lead the New York Mets by 1.5 games for the first spot and the St. Louis Cardinals by two games for the second spot. San Francisco trails Los Angeles by three games in the National League West Division as well.
Miggy still has it, despite “down” year
Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera earned his place in history with the historic American League Triple Crown in 2012, but this year, he was hitting only .293 at the All-Star break. Well, Miggy surely hasn’t lost his touch at age 33, has he?
Cabrera hit two home runs off Chicago’s Chris Sale on Labor Day, demonstrating to us all that he still can rake the ball with the best. His batting average this season is now up to .310, and with 31 home runs this year, too, the 11-time All-Star selection and two-time MVP winner is having yet another stellar season on his way to the Hall of Fame.
The A’s end the Billy Butler Era
Coming off three straight American League playoff appearances from 2012-2014, the Oakland Athletics suddenly tore down the roster and started to rebuild. One of the more … ahem, interesting … decisions was the signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year, $30-million deal. Butler was 28 years old but coming off the worst year of his career (.702 OPS in 2014 with the Kansas City Royals). Well, the experiment failed, as Oakland waived Butler on Sunday after Country Breakfast posted just 19 home runs and 96 RBI in almost two full seasons with the A’s. Butler is still owed $11.67 million in 2017, however. For the small-budget Oakland organization, that has to hurt.
King of the Hill … sort of?
Speaking of the A’s, they traded starting pitcher Rich Hill to the Dodgers in late July, and Hill had a start to remember for L.A. on Saturday in Miami. He pitched seven perfect innings to start the game, but …
Hill has been suffering from blister problems all season, and with the Dodgers in the hunt for the postseason, L.A. Manager Dave Roberts decided to remove his starter from a historical opportunity. It took a lot of guts to make that decision, but the team has won’t the World Series since 1988. If the Dodgers win it all this October, everyone will remember this moment.
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.