It’s been a down year for pennant races.
With a week to go in the regular season, there may not be much drama left. The National League postseason field is almost completely set, and in the American League, Kansas City has already wrapped up the AL Central and Toronto looks poised to put away the East.
One spot that could come down to the wire is the AL’s second wild card. Houston leads by a half game over the Los Angeles Angels, with Minnesota another game behind. The Astros trail first-place Texas by 2 1/2 games in the AL West.
Over in the NL, the New York Mets have clinched the NL East, and the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the West by six games. St. Louis, Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs have all clinched playoff berths in the Central, and with the Cardinals leading the Pirates by three games atop the division, it’ll be up to Pittsburgh to try to prolong that race in a three-game series with St. Louis that starts Monday.
“It’s a little bit strange in that there’s not a little bit more on the line for different divisions and postseason spots,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We find ourself in one of the more intriguing things that are remaining in terms of things to be decided before we get into October baseball. It’s been fun.”
Texas hosts the Angels in a four-game series to end the season. That set could have massive implications for both teams, and with the Astros and Twins also fighting for a playoff spot, there may be some good scoreboard watching to come.
That second AL wild card is baseball’s best hope for avoiding an anticlimactic week.
Here are a few other developments from around the major leagues:
ON A ROLL
It’s hard to come up with new superlatives to describe what Jake Arrieta of the Cubs has done lately. He threw a three-hit shutout Tuesday against Milwaukee, then pitched perfectly through six and held Pittsburgh to one hit in seven scoreless innings Sunday.
Arrieta has allowed no earned runs in eight of his last 11 starts. Since the All-Star break, he is 11-1 with a 0.80 ERA.
The National League batting race is quite the contrast in styles. Washington slugger Bryce Harper (.336) is trying to hold off Miami speedster Dee Gordon (.332). Harper is also tied atop the home run list in the NL. He and Colorado’s Nolan Arenado have 41 apiece.
Harper has a chance to win the so-called slash-line triple crown by leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. He’ll have to hold off Gordon in the batting race and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto in OBP.
If you’ve had Wade Davis on your roster because of his stellar work as Kansas City’s setup man, enjoy your reward. He’s now closing for the Royals because of Greg Holland’s elbow injury.
And if you’ve kept Matt Holliday through all of his injury problems, you got a small reward Saturday when he doubled twice and drove in two runs.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Carlos Carrasco of Cleveland struck out 15 in a one-hit shutout against Kansas City on Friday, leading the Indians to a 6-0 win. It may have been the best game by a Cleveland pitcher this year — Corey Kluber allowed one hit and struck out 18 against St. Louis on May 13, but he came out after eight innings.