LEADING OFF: Rockies, Cubs try to improve playoff position
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
Colorado has won six in row, boosting its playoff position. The NL West leaders aim for a four-game sweep when they take on the Phillies at Coors Field, having outscored them 34-4 so far in the series. Antonio Senzatela (6-6, 4.52 ERA) starts for the Rockies against Jake Arrieta (10-10, 3.94).
The Rockies’ 14-0 romp Wednesday night moved them a half-game past the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division lead. They’re also 1 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot.
Lefty Jon Lester and the Chicago Cubs try to maintain their lead in the NL Central when they host Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have a half-game edge over Milwaukee, which is idle. Chicago and the Brewers both have clinched playoff spots, so one will win the division and the other will be in the all-or-nothing wild-card game. Lester (17-6, 3.43 ERA) is 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his last seven starts. The Cubs will see how star third baseman Kris Bryant is feeling — he didn’t play Wednesday night because of a bruised left wrist, the result of being hit by a pitch the previous day.
The NL East champion Braves will find out if there’s any update on shortstop Dansby Swanson. The team said Wednesday that he has a partially torn ligament in his left hand, putting his postseason status in jeopardy. Swanson won’t play the rest of the regular season, which ends Sunday. The Braves open the best-of-five NL Division Series on Oct. 4.
The 24-year-old Swanson was on the disabled list in May and missed 13 games with left wrist inflammation. He is batting .238 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs and is considered a candidate to be a Gold Glove finalist.
Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.92) gets loose when he pitches at Baltimore. His following start will come in the Division Series when AL West champion Houston takes on Cleveland. Cole has 272 strikeouts. Teammate Justin Verlander leads the league with 280.