LEADING OFF: Cubs, Twins try to clinch; Altuve at 199 hits


Chicago Cubs' Jason Heyward, right, is congratulated by teammate Leonys Martin after hitting a three-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


Minnesota Twins' Eddie Rosario, left, Byron Buxton, center, and Max Kepler celebrate an 8-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians in a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)


FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer holds a drone which caused a recent injury to his finger during a news conference in Toronto. Cleveland’s nerdy pitcher, who is also an avid enthusiast of flying the unmanned, remote-controlled devices, lost a drone on Monday, Sept. 27, 2017, in a suburban park where he was zipping it around trees and other obstacles with a camera attached. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP, File)


A look at what’s happening all around the majors today:

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TRY AGAIN

Coming off a loss Tuesday night, the World Series champion Cubs make their second attempt at clinching a second straight NL Central title when veteran John Lackey (11-11, 4.67 ERA) pitches in St. Louis. The rival Cardinals, who are 2½ games behind Colorado for the second NL wild card, counter with Michael Wacha (12-8, 4.00) as they try to prevent Chicago from celebrating on their home turf.

TEAM TURNAROUND

After going 59-103 last year, the worst record in the majors, the Twins (83-74) are on the cusp of grabbing the final American League playoff spot. They can wrap up the second wild card and their first postseason berth since 2010 with a win at Cleveland or an Angels loss to the White Sox in Chicago. Minnesota, which has won five in a row, will start rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia (4-6, 4.48 ERA) against the AL Central champion Indians, who are one game ahead of Houston for home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The surprising Twins are the 13th team in big league history, and first since the 2009 Seattle Mariners, to go from 100-plus losses to a winning record the following season.

LOOKING AHEAD

Luis Severino (13-6, 3.03 ERA) gets a postseason tuneup for the Yankees when he starts against Tampa Bay with an eye toward his potential assignment in the AL wild-card game. New York still hopes to chase down first-place Boston in the AL East, but is likely to host Minnesota in the one-game playoff next Tuesday night. Severino has allowed one run or none in nine of 13 starts since the All-Star break, going 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA. He will face the Rays on six days’ rest.

LITTLE BIG MAN

AL West champion Houston hopes to have Jose Altuve back in the lineup at Texas after the All-Star second baseman didn’t start Tuesday night. Altuve, a leading contender for AL MVP, was hit by a 95 mph fastball Monday and left the game. The team said X-rays were negative and he had a bruised left forearm. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday the 5-foot-6 Altuve was fine, just sore. Altuve leads the majors with a .348 batting average and needs one hit to reach 200 for the fourth straight season.

PROVE IT

A year after missing much of Cleveland’s run to the World Series because of an injury, Danny Salazar is trying to show he’s even worth a postseason roster spot. The right-hander has been in and out of the rotation lately, and he’s allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings over his past two starts. He’ll get a chance to find his rhythm in a start against Minnesota.

POSTSEASON PREP

A couple of playoff-bound pitchers get their final tuneups before long layoffs. Houston right-hander Justin Verlander tries to win his fifth straight start in a game against Texas, while Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill (1-8, 3.50) takes a 2.45 September ERA into a start against San Diego. Both pitchers will then wait more than a week to pitch in the playoffs.

DRONING ON

It’s that time of year in Cleveland — the Indians are chasing a World Series, LeBron James is gearing up for another season, and Trevor Bauer is talking about his drones. Cleveland could do without the latter. The righty lost a drone Monday in a suburban park, and posted a message on Twitter asking the person who took it to return it as soon as possible. Last year, Bauer sliced open his right pinky tinkering with a drone during the ALCS and needed stitches. He started Game 3 in Toronto, but didn’t make it through the first inning before the cut opened, making it impossible for him to pitch.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Chicago Cubs’ Jason Heyward, right, is congratulated by teammate Leonys Martin after hitting a three-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/09/web1_118682971-511fbfb7ef9d420787c82014d0303c05.jpgChicago Cubs’ Jason Heyward, right, is congratulated by teammate Leonys Martin after hitting a three-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario, left, Byron Buxton, center, and Max Kepler celebrate an 8-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians in a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/09/web1_118682971-37b45f09420843ab83fe38dd2e06f49d.jpgMinnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario, left, Byron Buxton, center, and Max Kepler celebrate an 8-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians in a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

FILE – In this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer holds a drone which caused a recent injury to his finger during a news conference in Toronto. Cleveland’s nerdy pitcher, who is also an avid enthusiast of flying the unmanned, remote-controlled devices, lost a drone on Monday, Sept. 27, 2017, in a suburban park where he was zipping it around trees and other obstacles with a camera attached. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/09/web1_118682971-70ae312df01f410cae848f67166b743a.jpgFILE – In this Oct. 16, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer holds a drone which caused a recent injury to his finger during a news conference in Toronto. Cleveland’s nerdy pitcher, who is also an avid enthusiast of flying the unmanned, remote-controlled devices, lost a drone on Monday, Sept. 27, 2017, in a suburban park where he was zipping it around trees and other obstacles with a camera attached. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP, File)