Just to pick up where we left off last week, the wild card races are the best thing we have going in baseball right now. Both spots are up for grabs in the American League while the second one on the National League side is being hotly contested. Or maybe not. The Cardinals are trying to make this thing — from a hoping-things-go-down-to-the-wire perspective — boring.
The Cardinals have now won 10 of their past 11 games. They are now on an eight-game winning streak and those wins all came against teams that were, at least at the time, viable contenders for the second wild card. The Cardinals simply took care of business and now have opened up a three-game lead.
Meanwhile, the Padres have fallen to 3 1/2 games back. They were swept in three games at St. Louis and have lost eight of their past 10. They are 10-24 since Aug. 10 and this is the farthest they’ve been out of playoff position all season. And we saw the dugout shouting match.
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The Reds were in an excellent position in late August, holding down the second wild card and looking at a pretty easy upcoming schedule. They’ve since lost two of three to the Marlins, Cubs and Tigers. The failure to take advantage of the non-contenders — the Reds have lost 14 of their past 20 — has put them in a tough spot. They still have a weak remaining schedule, but they need to actually start winning the winnable games.
The Phillies actually are hanging around and they get three against the Orioles and four against the Pirates at home this week. They also close with three at Miami. They need to take care of business, but if they do, they can push the Cardinals.
|They’ve lost three of five, so I assume some of those other power rankings are dropping them. Not I. I’m not going to doubt this team the rest of 2021.||—||97-53|
|It’s pretty remarkable that this team hasn’t been a whole game up in first place since April 25 but also hasn’t trailed by more than five games. They’ve just been lurking, right in the Giants’ rearview mirror, nearly the entire season.||—||96-54|
|Prior to the 2018 season, the Brewers had only made the playoffs four times in franchise history. Now in 2021, they barely even celebrated clinching a playoff berth. That’s a testament to what this front office has built.||—||91-58|
|After a 21-6 August, the Rays are just 8-10 in September. Does it matter? Probably not. Though surely they’d like to put together some quality play before the playoffs.||—||92-58|
|In his last 23 games, Kyle Tucker is hitting .410 with has 13 multi-hit games. In fact, he’s been one of the best hitters in baseball after a slow start. Since May 9, he’s hitting .334/.392/.625.||—||88-61|
|The Blue Jays are now 22-10 since Aug. 15.||—||84-65|
|It appears the Red Sox have weathered the storm. They’ve won five straight, get the two struggling New York teams this week and finish with the lowly Orioles and Nationals.||1||86-65|
|Jose Abreu is up to 113 RBI. That’s six times in eight years he’s in triple digits and he had 60 in 60 games last year. Say what you will about the RBI, but this dude is a run-producing machine.||1||85-64|
|The A’s only play the Mariners (seven times) and Astros (six) the rest of the way. So I guess that means they control their own destiny, right?||3||82-67|
|The Cardinals have won 16 of Adam Wainwright’s last 19 starts. He has a 2.22 ERA in that span while averaging nearly seven innings per start. He’s 40 years old.||4||79-69|
|The Yankees are now 7-15 since that 13-game winning streak.||1||83-67|
|Jarred Kelenic in September: .283/.348/.650 with four doubles and six homers. Remember, he’s only 22 years old.||1||80-69|
|Max Fried is pitching himself into possible playoff ace territory. In his last nine starts, he has a 1.71 ERA and the Braves have won eight of them.||4||77-70|
|In addition to the wild card spot mentioned in the intro above, the Phillies are only two games behind the Braves in the NL East. This thing is far from over.||3||76-73|
|Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez both being in the rotation shows how desperate their starting pitching situation has become.||4||76-73|
|From Aug. 19-22, the Reds swept the Marlins in four games. They were 4 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals at the time. They have lost two of three in every single series since.||1||77-73|
|Cal Quantrill since the All-Star break: 5-1, 1.79 ERA, 1.01 WHIP. This rotation next season at full health is going to be so good. Will they add any offense in the offseason, though?||2||73-74|
|Jeff McNeil’s home run — that ended up being a game-winner Sunday — was his first since Aug. 1.||2||73-77|
|Look, I love Vlad Jr. as much as anyone, but I’m seeing far too much discussion about the MVP going to someone other than the guy pitching like an All-Star, hitting over 40 homers and stealing over 20 bases. C’mon.||1||72-77|
|The Tigers have been good for a pretty sizable portion of the season, believe it or not. They are 63-54 since May 7.||1||72-78|
|The Rockies have been good for a decent portion of the season, believe it or not. They are 39-32 since June 27. Consider the Tigers and Rockies the best “bad” team, respectively, in each league, in a blowout.||1||70-79|
|Remember back when I was tracking how the Royals had the lowest single-season franchise record in home runs? It was Steve Balboni’s 36 from 1985 until 2017. They had Mike Moustakas break it that year with 38. Jorge Soler then hit 48 in 2019 and Salvador Perez is currently at 45. Might he be the third Royals player to set the franchise record in the past four full seasons?||—||67-82|
|The franchise record for home runs by a rookie used to belong to Kris Bryant, but now it’s Patrick Wisdom.||—||67-83|
|Sandy Alcantara now has a 3.05 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 194 2/3 innings. Along with Trevor Rogers, the Marlins look to have two frontline starters heading to 2022 along with pitchers like Pablo Lopez, Jesus Luzardo, Sixto Sánchez and Zach Thompson, the Marlins might well have a very strong rotation.||1||63-86|
|Rocco Baldelli won division titles in his first two seasons as Twins manager. Will he get fired after his third season?||1||65-85|
|Juan Soto is hitting .315/.459/.531 and has walked 124 times compared to 83 strikeouts. He’s still only 22 years old. Let’s not take for granted just how amazing he is with a bat in his hands.||—||61-88|
|The Pirates have 93 losses. Their next one will make this their most losses in a season since 2010.||1||56-93|
|Adolis Garcia might’ve been the bright spot in an otherwise forgettable year. But he’s hitting just .206/.258/.381 since the All-Star break. Uh oh.||1||55-94|
|The Diamondbacks have picked first overall in the draft twice before. Justin Upton in 2005 and Dansby Swanson in 2015. Will they make it a third or will the Orioles out-futility them?||—||48-101|
|Cedric Mullins has 29 homers and 30 steals. No Baltimore Orioles player has ever gone 30-30. The one entrant in the franchise was Ken Williams of the 1922 St. Louis Browns.||—||47-102|