By Sam McPherson
With all the division champions basically decided already in MLB, the focus for the final week is on the chase for wild-card playoff berths in both leagues. A look back shows us just how this situation came to be, as we also say farewell to Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez.
Red Sox win 11 straight to relegate Blue Jays and Orioles to the wild-card spots
The American League East has been the best division in baseball this year, with four teams technically still alive for the postseason in the final week of regular-season play. The New York Yankees probably won’t make it, but Boston has secured its postseason spot already. The team’s 11th straight win came on this crazy play at home plate in Tampa Bay.
The Red Sox now have a magic number of two entering this week’s play, so they will likely wrap up their third division since in the last 20 seasons. Since 1995, Boston only has won the AL East in 2007 and 2013, although the team won the World Series in both those years.
Does any team want the NL wild-card spots?
In September, the San Francisco Giants have a 10-14 record, while the St. Louis Cardinals are 11-12 this month. It seems like neither team really wants to make the postseason, while the New York Mets—injuries aplenty—are 14-9 since August ended. The Mets have a one-game lead on the Giants for the top wild-card spot, while the Cardinals trail the Giants by a mere half game. A lot will be decided this week, but fivethirtyeight.com gives the best playoff odds to New York and St. Louis. Stay tuned!
Last Bumgarner/Kershaw showdown of 2016 overshadowed by on-field scuffle
Speaking of San Francisco, ace pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw went at it last week in Los Angeles for perhaps the last time in 2016 (depending on how the Dodgers play the final weekend series this week at AT&T Park). As one would expect, it was a true pitchers’ duel.
The Dodgers ended up winning, 2-1, with a ninth-inning comeback, but the MadBum-Puig scuffle was all anyone could talk about the next day. It’s too bad, because Bumgarner and Kershaw are a delight to watch work.
Rookie Gary Sanchez hits 19 HRs in just 45 games
We covered something like this before here, but it’s worth noting again: New York Yankees slugging catcher Gary Sanchez is making history in a major way. In his first seven weeks in the big leagues, Sanchez hit 19 long balls to become the most prolific power hitter in MLB history through his first 45 games played. Overall now through 47 games, he is hitting .322 with those 19 HRs and 38 RBI. Ther eis hope in the Bronx for 2017 and beyond now, even if the Yankees won’t be playing this October.
RIP: Jose Fernandez
Unless you’ve been living without the Internet for the last few days, you know this story. Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez lost his life over the weekend in a small-boat accident off the Florida coastline. This is just devastating news for MLB fans everywhere, as Fernandez was off to the best start for a MLB pitcher ever through 76 starts with his 150 ERA+ rating.
If the above video doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you may not be a baseball fan. It’s a shame to see any life cut short at age 24, of course, but Fernandez meant so much to the Miami community due to his Cuban background and his ever-present smile. His joy and passion will be missed forever.