Leading Off: NL wild card down to wire; Stanton chases 60
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
WILD CARD WEEKEND
The only playoff spot that hasn’t been decided is the second NL wild card, with the Brewers trailing the Rockies by two games entering the season’s final weekend. Milwaukee closes the season with three games at St. Louis, while Colorado plays its final three at home against the NL West champion Dodgers. Chase Anderson will start the Brewers’ series opener. NL Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw will get his final start of the regular season on Saturday in Colorado, while the Rockies are expected to go with Chad Bettis, German Marquez and Tyler Chatwood.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has three games left at home against the Braves to become the first player since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in 2001 to hit 60 homers in a season. He hit Nos. 58 and 59 on Thursday night, with the latter blast measured at 467 feet, according to Statcast. Stanton is the sixth player in major league history to hit 59, joining Bonds, Sosa, Roger Maris, Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth.
Bryce Harper has three regular-season games left to get his timing back, and then he’ll rest another four days before the Nationals host the Cubs in the NL Division Series opener. The 2015 NL MVP missed 42 games with a hyperextended left knee before he was activated on Tuesday. He played back-to-back games before resting Thursday, saying his knee was “a little sore.” Washington manager Dusty Baker said there was no cause for alarm about his star right fielder, who ranks second on the Nationals with 29 homers despite missing so much time.
The nine teams that have already clinched playoff berths are giving final tune-ups to some of their top starting pitchers. On Friday, Stephen Strasburg will start for the Nationals, Zack Greinke will throw for the Diamondbacks, Jose Quintana takes the mound for the Cubs, Doug Fister starts for the Red Sox and Trevor Bauer pitches for the Indians.
The sale of the Miami Marlins to a group including retired Yankees great Derek Jeter is scheduled to close Monday. Jeter has about a 4 percent stake in the group, and Bruce Sherman, who’ll become the controlling owner, has the highest equity stake in the group, according to details obtained by The Associated Press. Jeter, who led the Yankees to five World Series titles, will head the team’s baseball and business operations. Retired NBA great Michael Jordan will own about half of one percent of the team.
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