By Sam McPherson
Football season may be in full swing now, but there’s a reason baseball is still America’s pastime. In fact, here are five “reasons” from last week to make sure everyone keeps watching baseball this month.
Giants continue to struggle while dropping in the standings
After getting swept at AT&T Park by the last-place San Diego Padres to start the week, the San Francisco Giants seemed to recover by winning the first two games of a four-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals, a team also battling with the Giants for the National League playoffs. But then this happened.
The Giants went on to lose Sunday’s contest against St. Louis, too, and now San Francisco has dropped into the final NL postseason spot with just a one-game lead on the Cardinals. It’s been a big freefall for the Giants after they had the best record in baseball at the All-Star break.
The Chicago Cubs clinch the NL Central Division title for the first time since 2008
After losing to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday at Wrigley Field in their first chance to clinch the division, the Cubs watched later as the Giants beat the Cardinals on the West Coast. With the St. Louis loss in San Francisco, the Cubs clinched their second straight NL postseason appearance and their first division title since 2008. They will be the sentimental October favorites, as the famed Chicago team hasn’t played in the World Series since 1945—and hasn’t won it since 1908. In fact, the Cubs lost the Series seven times between 1910 and 1945, and few are alive today that remember it all.
Boston delivers the final blows to New York playoff chances
The Boston Red Sox took four straight from the New York Yankees, which buries the Bronx Bombers in the American League wild-card chase. What’s worse was the fact NY held comfortable leads in three of the four games before suffering painful losses.
That Thursday night comeback set the tone for the entire series, and now the Yankees are five games out of the postseason with just 13 games to play. The season is all but over for them now, even if the future is bright in the Bronx.
Clayton Kershaw returns to form for the Dodgers just in time
The Los Angeles Dodgers ace lefty has returned from his back injury just in time to help his teammates march on to the postseason. He threw five more shutout innings last Wednesday, giving up just one hit to the New York Yankees, as he continues to rebuild his stamina. Incredibly, Kershaw has walked just nine batters in 129 innings this season, while striking out 155 hitters. If you’re counting at home, that’s 17.22 Ks for every one BB this year—which is just about unfathomable.
Oakland gets revenge on Kansas City for the 2014 AL Wild Card Game
The Oakland Athletics blew a four-run, eighth-inning lead in the 2014 AL Wild Card Game against the Kansas City Royals, and the A’s haven’t been the same since then. While the Royals went on to two straight AL pennants and the 2015 World Series championship, Oakland has been the worst team in the AL since then. But the A’s got some revenge this week, beating the Royals four straight by a combined 43-12 margin.
Khris Davis got the ball rolling for Oakland with the first three runs of the series, and by the end of the week, the A’s outfielder had hit his 40th home run of the season—a feat last matched in Oakland by Jason Giambi in 2000. The Royals, like the Yankees now, have little chance at the postseason.
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.