Leading Off: Red Sox, Rockies try to clinch, Stanton near 60
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
The Boston Red Sox make their third bid to clinch the AL East crown when Drew Pomeranz (16-6, 3.38 ERA) faces Lance McCullers and the 100-win Houston Astros at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have lost two in a row and are 1-4 on their homestand. Boston’s magic number is still one for closing out the Yankees – the Red Sox hold a two-game edge and each team has two games left. Both clubs already are assured playoff spots. If New York wins two against Toronto while the Red Sox twice lose to the Astros, there will be a one-game tiebreaker at Yankee Stadium on Monday for the division crown.
The Colorado Rockies will try to become the 10th and final club to seal a playoff spot this season. If they win with rookie German Marquez pitching against the Dodgers, or Milwaukee loses at St. Louis, the Rockies claim a berth and will play at Arizona in the NL wild-card game Wednesday.
Giancarlo Stanton has 59 home runs going into Miami’s game at home against Atlanta. He doubled and singled Friday night. Manager Don Mattingly says he might move up Stanton from the second spot in the lineup to leadoff this weekend to maybe get him an extra at-bat in the pursuit of No. 60.
Nationals star Bryce Harper is scheduled for a day off. He went 0 for 4 Friday night, striking out twice and hitting into two double plays against Pittsburgh. Harper returned this week after missing more than six weeks because of a hyperextended left knee. He hasn’t played a full nine innings since coming back for the NL East champions.
Max Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw – the NL Cy Young Award race figures to be a close vote, with those two aces probably at the top of the pack. Both will get one more chance to make their case when Scherzer and the Nationals face Pittsburgh, while Kershaw and the Dodgers play at Colorado.
Kershaw is 18-4 with a league-leading 2.21 ERA. The three-time NL Cy Young winner has struck out 200 and walked just 30 in 171 innings.
Scherzer is 16-6 with a 2.55 ERA and an NL-best 263 strikeouts. He has logged 197 1/3 innings this season and held opponents to a .179 batting average. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2013 and the NL honor last season.
Matt Cain is set to pitch for the final time in his accomplished career with the San Francisco Giants. A day before his 33rd birthday, he figures to get a loud cheer from the home fans at AT&T Park when he faces San Diego. Cain helped the Giants win a pair of World Series championships and also pitched a perfect game. He made his major league debut in 2005 with the Giants and has been beset by injuries in recent years. The three-time All-Star is 3-11 with a 5.66 ERA this season and says ”I can’t picture myself putting a different uniform on.”