Kershaw, Ortiz among the stars to watch down the stretch
The last time the Chicago Cubs won 100 games, Franklin Roosevelt was president, the U.S. had 48 states and night baseball was just arriving in the major leagues.
That was 1935, when the Cubs went 100-54 before losing to Detroit in the World Series. This year's team is on pace to reach that milestone and exceed it. Chicago's victory Sunday improved its record to 88-48, and the Cubs lead second-place St. Louis by 16 + games in the NL Central.
Chicago's march toward a division title seems like a mere formality now, and the Nationals and Rangers also have sizeable leads in their divisions. Cleveland has won six in a row to take a 5 +-game advantage in the AL Central.
For all the other teams chasing postseason spots, the final month of the regular season should be full of highs and lows. Division titles in the AL East and NL West are still very much up for grabs, and there are several teams in the hunt for wild cards in both leagues.
Here are a few things to watch over the last few weeks of the regular season:
The Dodgers are in good shape to make the postseason one way or another - they lead the NL West by three games, with a wild card a potential safety net. This should be an eventful stretch run in Los Angeles, thanks to Clayton Kershaw's return, Vin Scully's impending retirement and a division race with the rival Giants that could go down the wire.
Kershaw is set to pitch Friday at Miami after spending over two months on the disabled list with a herniated disk.
David Ortiz is heading into retirement with a flourish. His OPS of 1.033 is the third-highest of his career.
These next few weeks will determine if he'll have one more chance to leave his mark on the postseason. The Red Sox are a game out of first place in the AL East, and they hold the first wild card in the American League. But Boston is only two games ahead of Baltimore and Detroit, who are tied for the second wild card.
The New York Yankees traded away some of their key players before the deadline and were expected to fade from the playoff picture in the AL. Instead, rookie Gary Sanchez went on a tear, hitting .389 with 11 home runs in August. The Yankees are only 3 + games out of the second wild card.
Sanchez is one of several rookies who could make a difference for teams fighting for postseason spots. Others include Michael Fulmer of Detroit, Aledmys Diaz of St. Louis and Yoan Moncada of Boston.
The New York Mets entered the season with an embarrassment of riches on the mound and have had their depth severely tested by injuries. Matt Harvey is out the for the season, and Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz are both sidelined now, leaving the likes of Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Rafael Montero making crucial starts for the defending National League champions.
Still, the Mets have won 11 of their last 15 and trail St. Louis by one game for the second wild card.
The Orioles could end up with the major league leader in home runs for a fourth straight season. Mark Trumbo is setting the pace at the moment with 41, and nobody else has more than 36.
Chris Davis (2015 and 2013) and Nelson Cruz (2014) were the other Orioles who have led the big leagues in homers during this stretch.
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