The irony with that is, the latter is really just starting to heat up. No place is that more evident than New York, where not only the Yankees are making their annual surge for the postseason, but the Mets have leapfrogged the Washington Nationals in the NL East standings … and kept right on rolling along.
Not sure if it’s a Mets fan calling the shots at MLB Network who secretly relishes Jayson Werth sounding ridiculous, but it might be time to drop that clip of the Nationals outfielder proclaiming Washington as the team to beat in the NL and that everyone knows it.
Uhhh, not anymore.
Put it this way, the Mets finally cooled a bit in their 10 games prior to Wednesday, going just 5-5 … and they still expanded their division lead by two games. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and lefty Jonathon Niese give the current front-runners the type of rock-solid rotation, as long as it remains intact, that could make the Mets a playoff regular for years to come.
Now if the front office could beef up the offense they might actually do some damage then, too.
Conversely, their crosstown, inter-league rivals are fueled by big bats … and a lights-out relief corps. Basically, the Yankees just need to get through the first 5-6-7 innings in decent shape, and they’re looking at victory. Even when their template for 2015 success has faltered, they’ve had someone step up out of the blue or something happen to help them out.
Tuesday night, Alex Rodriguez drilled a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the seventh when the Bronx Bombers appeared dead to rites, down 4-1 and about to fall into a first-place tie atop the AL East with Toronto.
If anything, last weekend’s series in Canada between the Yanks and Blue Jays set the stage for baseball’s stretch drive. Having been swept at home by Toronto the previous weekend, the Yankees entered SkyDome down a half game in the standings and promptly won the first two games before falling in the finale. All three contests had a playoff-type atmosphere, courtesy of the crowd and clutch performances.
That is THE division race to watch, but all of them aside from the AL Central, with Kansas City up 13.5 games, remain hotly contested … as do, of course, the wild cards.
MVP CHATTER: Despite all the Mike Trout hoopla, your current AL leader is Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is every bit the defensive player that the Angels center fielder is and has supplanted him as the top offensive force in the league.
Yeah, it’s close … but not that close. Donaldson leads the AL in RBIs (91) and runs scored (89), has as many homers as Trout (33) and has surpassed him in batting average (.296 to .294).
Things may be a little closer in the NL, where Trout’s fellow hype machine Bryce Harper’s numbers for Washington are great: .326 batting average, league-best 30 homers, 73 RBIs and 83 runs scored. They’re just not as good as what Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt has put up: league-best .333 batting average, 22 homers, league-best 88 RBIs and 75 runs scored.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org