A look at what’s happening at the majors today:
WILD, WILD EAST
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole makes his possibly final start to the regular season in a critical showdown against Toronto.
New York won the start of a three-game series on Tuesday night to draw three games ahead of the Blue Jays for the top AL wildcard. Cole (16-8, 3.08) will try to strengthen the influence of the Americans on a place in the postseason while cementing his candidacy for the Cy Young Award. The four-time all-star has never won the baseball best pitcher award.
Cole could face AL East champ Rays again on Sunday with a short break if that is critical to the Yankees’ post-season chances. If not, he would be available for a potential 163 game on Monday or the AL wildcard game on Tuesday in regular rest time.
First he will face Toronto’s Jose Berrios, who struck eight against the Yankees on September 9 and threw a two-run ball over 6 2/3 innings.
Boston lost to Baltimore on Tuesday night, fell two games behind the Yankees and will continue a three-game set against last-placed Orioles.
AT THE HEIGHT
The Braves can come within striking distance of victory in the NL East with a win against Philadelphia. Atlanta won the opener of their three-game set on Tuesday night to pull 3 1/2 games ahead of runner-up Phillies and reduce their magic number to secure their fourth straight league title to three.
Atlanta’s left-hander Max Fried (13-7, 3.12) will face the Phillies’ right Aaron Nola (9-8, 4.64), who was eliminated from the NL wildcard race on Tuesday as St. Louis Milwaukee defeated and can only make the postseason by winning the division.
The Mariners won 10 out of 12 to dash right into the middle of AL’s wildcard race and step into their series final against Oakland, half a game behind the Red Sox to finish last in the postseason.
Right-hander Logan Gilbert (6-5, 4.83) faces A’s righty Frankie Montas (13-9, 3.48) while Seattle is aiming for a critical blow. The Mariners are still in the pursuit of AL West, but Houston can win with either a win over Tampa Bay or a loss to Seattle.
The Giants will end their hunt for an NL West title without the bully Brandon Belt, who made the injured list Tuesday with a broken left thumb.
Belt finished with a 6-2 win in Colorado in the seventh inning on Sunday after being hit with a pitch on the left hand while squaring to Bunt. X-rays on Monday showed the break.
The injury is a severe blow to NL West leaders, who started a home streak Tuesday night with the Diamondbacks who were still trying to complete their top division title since 2012. It’s unclear if Belt can return before the end of the postseason.
The 33-year-old belt hits .274 with a career high of 29 homers and 59 RBIs.
San Francisco and the Dodgers both won on Tuesday, holding the Giants two games ahead of eight-time NL West champions with five games remaining for each team.
NL Cy Young contender Max Scherzer (15-4, 2.28) is trying to bounce back from his first tough start since a mid-season trade with the Dodgers in a showdown with San Diego.
Scherzer allowed five runs in five innings to the Rockies at Coors Field last Thursday and increased his ERA to 1.43 in 10 starts after being overtaken by Washington. The Dodgers rallied and won that game in Colorado, keeping Scherzer’s perfect 7-0 record with Los Angeles.
The Dodgers also plan to re-evaluate bully Albert Pujols the day after he was put on the COVID-19 injured list. The 41-year-old got his second dose of vaccine and felt sick on Tuesday.
ON THE CALL
Melanie Newman and Jessica Mendoza will team up for an all-female broadcast when ESPN airs a game between the Padres and Dodgers.
Newman is doing play-by-play on radio and television for the Baltimore Orioles in her sophomore year and was the second woman to appear at the 22nd MLB game of the week. Long-time New York Yankees announcer Suzyn Waldman was the first during games on the Baseball Network from 1994-95.
On July 20, Newman joined Sarah Langs, Alanna Rizzo, Heidi Watney, and Lauren Gardner for the first female-only nationwide broadcast.
ESPN tried looking for ways to have Newman name a few games early in the season but hasn’t been able to get it to work as of now. Newman also completed the September 22nd matchup between San Diego and San Francisco on ESPN with Doug Glanville. Mendoza is in her seventh season as an MLB analyst with ESPN.
STILL HAVE ITS WINGS
Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon says Shohei Ohtani’s comments last weekend about wanting to win don’t mean the two-way star wants to leave the organization if he becomes a free agent after the 2023 season will.
Ohtani, an AL MVP front runner with 45 homers and a 3.18 ERA starting Tuesday, said on Sunday that while he likes the team, fans and atmosphere, his number one priority is victory.
“We all feel the same, we all want to win,” Maddon said ahead of the Angels game in Texas on Tuesday night. âWhen someone misunderstands this as if they want to leave, it tries to connect some points that were not necessarily what they said, not at all what they said.
âHe also mentioned how much he loves it here. The sanctuary of the clubhouse, the boys, the coaching staff, everything around it. The area. The fans. He loves all of them. We all want to reach the next level and see it as an absolute possibility that it will happen here in the near future. “
The Angels have lost a record in six consecutive seasons and missed the playoffs in seven consecutive years, the last four with Ohtani, who is under contract for two more seasons after that.
More AP-MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports