Want to know which team no one in the A.L. wants to see in the playoffs? (Aside from Boston) The Athletics. They’re in the top five in the majors in runs, doubles, HR, RBI, slugging percentage and OPS. Khris Davis is as legit an MVP candidate as can be imagined, despite all the noise about Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez in Boston. Davis leads the league in homers and is just behind Martinez in the RBI race. He’s the only person NOT wearing a Red Sox uniform that could stop the Boston left fielder from winning the Triple Crown. In fact, the A’s are one of only three teams that have a winning record against the Red Sox this season, the other two being (predictably) the Astros and (surprisingly) the White Sox. The Athletics have won five straight to keep pace with the Astros down the stretch, winning eight of their last ten and playing their best baseball from July on. Since August 1 st , they’ve been cruising, winning twenty-five of thirty-six games. With only two weeks left, and the Astros clinging to a 3.5 game lead in the West, the A’s look like they’re headed for a single game showdown with the Yankees, with whom they’ve split the season series, for the AL’s wild card slot. Either way, a really dangerous team is going to be in that wild card spot.
Triple Crown Watch
As I mentioned just a moment ago, as the season draws to a close, Boston’s J.D. Martinez is flirting with baseball’s Holy Grail: The True Triple Crown. He sits in the top two in all of the majors (not just the A.L.) in all three categories. He’s leading the RBI race with 121, but trailing teammate Mookie Betts in average by .009 and trailing Davis by a single home run. Martinez could be only the second player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to accomplish the feat. Miguel Cabrera was the most recent winner in 2012. Strangely, the only two Red Sox players to win the Triple Crown previously were both left fielders as well, Yaz, and before him, Ted Williams, who managed to do it twice. The tricky part about making the dream happen might just be catching Betts. That slim- sounding .009 margin represents about a half dozen more hits than Betts over the last two weeks. Martinez has only nine more than his teammate…all season long.
N.L. Pennant Race
It may seem like I keep harping on the N.L. West, but the Central is heating up as well. The Cubs once-solid looking lead has shrunk to only two games over the Brewers and four over the Cardinals, who are blazing hot over the second half thus far, going 33-18 to make it a three-team race. With the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Dodgers beating each other up in the West, it’s beginning to look like a six-team race for the remaining playoff spots in the National League. Atlanta has the East on lockdown, and they’ll more than likely be the lone representatives from the division, with the Phillies sitting six games back from that second wild card spot.
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