LEADING OFF: Felix farewell, Brennaman calls it a day
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
FAREWELL TO THE KING
Felix Hernandez starts for Seattle in what well could be his last game for the Mariners. A sea of yellow-shirted fans in the “King’s Court” will rise in unison and chant as he takes the mound, and when he gets to two strikes on any hitter, and will cheer deliriously anytime No. 34 can record a strikeout against playoff-chasing Oakland.
After 15 seasons and more time spent on the injured list than on the mound in recent years, there may not be many suitors for a 33-year-old pitcher with decreased velocity and more than 2,700 career innings on his right arm. Hernandez is 1-7 in 14 starts this season with a 6.51 ERA.
The face of the franchise for so long, his contract with the Mariners expires after the season and both sides seem ready to go their own way.
“I don’t want to retire yet,” Hernandez said after his last start. “I think I can go out there and compete against anybody. It was a tough year with my shoulder. But if I get healthy, I can compete.”
The A’s lead the AL wild-card race by a half-game over Tampa Bay. Oakland is two games ahead of Cleveland.
Nationals fans get their final chance of the season to cheer or jeer former Washington and present Philliies slugger Bryce Harper, a day after he complained about some rough treatment by hecklers in right field at Nationals Park.
Harper didn’t get specific or repeat what the hecklers were saying, but he wasn’t happy following a 5-2 loss Wednesday night, the team’s fifth straight setback.
“They were fine all game, talking about myself and things like that,” Harper said. “I get it everywhere I go. That’s nothing new. But the last two innings, it’s just not right. It’s not right.”
He said he was eager to get back to Philadelphia and the great fans there.
“I’ve got 60,000 fans up in Philly that appreciate me as a player, appreciate me as an individual and my family, as well,” Harper said. “I owe a lot to those people up there in Philly because they show up for me every single night and they’re there to cheer us on and boo us and keep us going as a team and as individuals as well.”
Harper left Washington after playing 927 games over seven years, participating in six All-Star Games and winning the 2015 NL MVP Award. He’s been a target of boos since signing a $330 million, 13-year contract with the rival Phillies.
Washington has already clinched an NL playoff spot as the teams close out a five-game series.
The NL East champion Braves have shut down Ronald Acuña Jr. for the remainder of the regular season after the All-Star outfielder made an early exit this week because of tightness in his left hip. Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said the decision is largely precautionary, and Acuña can continue to throw and hit while sitting out the final four games.
Acuña has 41 homers, 101 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. He’s also scored a NL-high 127 runs. The Braves start the NL Division Series on Oct. 3 at SunTrust Park — their opponent hasn’t been determined yet.
CALLING IT A DAY
Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman wraps up his long career in the booth when Cincinnati hosts Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park. He’s retiring after this season, his 46th with the Reds.
The 77-year-old broadcaster known for his pull-no-punch descriptions and his “this one belongs to the Reds” sign-off isn’t going on the season-ending road trip to Pittsburgh.
“Thursday will be the hardest day of my life, I think,” Brennaman said earlier this week, “I think that will be a tough one.”
Milwaukee has clinched a playoff spot by winning six in a row and is a game behind Washington in the wild-card race.
The Cardinals will see how pitcher Michael Wacha is feeling, a day after he was pulled from a start at Arizona in the second inning because of tightness in his right shoulder. Manager Mike Shildt said more would be known during an off day for the NL Central leaders.
Wacha has pitched well recently, but is 0-3 in 10 starts since rejoining the rotation in early August.
The Cardinals host the Cubs this weekend, trying to hold their 1 1/2-game division lead over Milwaukee.
Hard-throwing Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.99 ERA) makes what could be his final appearance for the Mets when he starts at home against Miami. The 29-year-old righty can become a free agent after the season.
Wheeler was a premier prospect when New York acquired him from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran in July 2011 and has spent his entire major league career with the Mets, missing two full seasons following Tommy John surgery. But he’s bounced back to win 23 games and throw nearly 370 innings over the past two years.
“Everybody wants this guy, I’m sure,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “So we’ll see what happens.”