With Craig out of town, we have a “Settling the Score” in place of the usual “And That Happened.” Don’t worry, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming on Tuesday.
The Cardinals have at least assured themselves a spot in the NL Wild Card game, but they still have a division to win. After falling 6-4 to the Brewers on Sunday night, they currently hold a two-game lead over the Pirates and Reds in the NL Central with six games remaining in the regular season. Here’s how things set up this week.
The Cardinals are still sitting pretty right now, as they will play their final six games at home. They’ll begin a three-game series against the Nationals tonight before facing the last-place Cubs this weekend. The Reds will also be at home for their final six games. They’ll start at three-game series against the Mets tonight before getting the Pirates this weekend. As opposed to the Cardinals and Reds, the Pirates will finish the season on the road. They’ll play the Cubs for three before going to Cincinnati.
Whoever finishes in second and third place in the NL Central will almost certainly face off in the Wild Card game one week from tomorrow (the Nationals’ elimination number is down to two), but nobody wants their season to come down to just one game. Here’s hoping for a fun and dramatic final week.
Your Sunday box scores:
Giants 2, Yankees 1
Astros 2, Indians 9
Mets 4, Phillies 3
White Sox 6, Tigers 3
Reds 11, Pirates 3
Blue Jays 2, Red Sox 5
Marlins 4, Nationals 2; Marlins 4, Nationals 5
Orioles 1, Rays 3
Braves 5, Cubs 2
Rangers 0, Royals 4 (10 innings)
Dodgers 1, Padres 0
Diamondbacks 13, Rockies 9
Mariners 3, Angels 2
Twins 7, Athletics 11
Cardinals 4, Brewers 6
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.