What’s Happening in Baseball Today

September 27, 2020: The First Pitch

The final day of the regular season is upon us, and there’s some things to still sort out in the MLB playoff picture.

In the American League, there’s suspense that the Central Division-leading Twins can kill simply be defeating the Reds at home; besides winning the division, they’d wrap up the league’s #2 seed, for all that’s worth given the crowd-free neutral-site environment that awaits in October. But should the Twins lose, and the second-place White Sox grab a win over the Cubs, then the two teams finished tied standings-wise—with the Sox taking the division on the first tiebreaker of best intra-division record.

It’s messier in the National League—and it almost requires a PhD to figure out the various scenarios. But here we go: If the Cardinals defeat Milwaukee, they’re in as the second-place team in the Central. If they lose—and the Giants defeat San Diego—then the Cardinals will be forced to go to Detroit on Monday for a pair of make-up games they otherwise wouldn’t have to play. Should they be swept by the Tigers, they’re out and the Brewers and Giants are in. But if the Giants lose today, they’re out and both the Cardinals and Brewers advance.

Individually, the NL batting crown is in play between the Nationals’ Juan Soto (.346), the Braves’ Freddie Freeman (.343) and perhaps the Braves’ Marcell Ozuna (.335) and Nationals’ Trea Turner (.333). Yeah, that’s a lot to hope for if you’re Ozuna or Turner, but remember that we’re not at game #162, where batting averages are not oscillating much.

Meanwhile in the AL, the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu is a lock for his second career batting crown, starting the day with a 31-point lead over the White Sox’ Tim Anderson. LeMahieu will become the ninth Yankee to win the title, the first since Bernie Williams in 1998 —and the first ever to win crowns in both leagues since Ed Delahanty (NL 1899, AL 1902).

The Dodgers have spent a pretty penny sprucing up Dodger Stadium of late; now they need to spend some dough on sending out an electrician. During the Dodgers’ 7-6 win over the Angels, the lights went out for 25 minutes; this follows twin outages one month apart back in 2018.

Congrats, Your Box Score Line Was the Best (Hitters Edition)

4-2-4-3—Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins
The Venezuelan native, something of a throwback as a solid contact hitter with a good eye for the plate, busted out three doubles among four hits in his first game in 18 days following problems with his knees. Arraez is batting .315 on the year—and .329 over 434 career at-bats since joining the majors last season.

Congrats, Your Box Score Line Was the Best (Pitchers Edition)

8-2-0-0-1-10—Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers
The 27-year-old right-hander marveled anew in the Brewers’ important 3-0 win at St. Louis—and even got credit for the win, only his third against five losses, indicating how little records mean for starting pitchers these days. This is the third time this season that Woodruff has thrown at least six innings and allowed no runs on two or fewer hits.

It Was Whatever-Something Years Ago Today

1914: In his second-to-last game as a member of the Cleveland team named after him, Nap Lajoie collects his 3,000th hit in the Naps’ 5-3 home victory over the Yankees. He’s the third player, after Cap Anson and Honus Wagner, to reach the milestone.

1953: The St. Louis Browns play their final game before moving to Baltimore, dropping a 2-1, 11-inning decision to the White Sox before 3,174 fans at Sportsman’s Park. The loss caps another miserable season for the Browns—their 40th below .500 in 52 years, their eighth with 100-plus losses, and a year in which they lose an AL-record 20 straight home games.

1963: The fledgling Houston Colt .45s, well established as the ninth-place team in their second NL season, field an all-rookie lineup against the Mets, losing 10-3. Despite the gimmick, the lineup in later years won’t sound so bad; it includes Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, Jim Wynn and Jerry Grote. It also features starting pitcher Jay Dahl, who makes his major league debut at 17, and outfielder Aaron Pointer—whose siblings will eventually make it in show biz as the Pointer Sisters. The average age of the starting lineup is 19.

1973: In his last start of the year, the Angels’ Nolan Ryan goes the distance—all 11 innings—and strikes out 16 to total 383 on the year to surpass, by one, Sandy Koufax’s all-time season record in a 5-4 victory. The record-breaker comes with the last batter he faces, the Twins’ Rich Reese.

1998: Roy Halladay, making his first major league start, is one out away from a no-hitter when the Tigers’ Bobby Higginson belts a home run to ruin it. He’ll get the final out in Toronto’s 2-1 home win.

1999: Tiger Stadium hosts its final game as Detroit defeats the Royals 8-2 before a packed house. The Tigers’ Robert Fick hits the last home run, an eighth-inning grand slam that reaches the outfield rooftop.

2012: Detroit pitcher Doug Fister sets an AL mark by striking out nine straight batters in the Tigers’ 5-4 home win over the Royals. Fister strikes out only one other batter over 7.2 innings of work, for which he does not get credit for the win.

Shameless Link of the Day

In reference above to Ed Delahanty winning the AL batting title in 1902: It’s not quite officially true that he finished first. Going by today’s rules, yes—Delahanty wins it. But they gave it back then to Nap Lajoie, though he averaged only 2.39 plate appearances per game—well below the 3.1 considered today. Why did Lajoie play so little in 1902? It’s a very interesting story.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Former White Sox pitching mainstay Jon Garland is 41; 108-game winner Vicente Padilla is 43; Hall-of-Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt is 71. Born on this date is 1940s Dodgers pitching star Whit Wyatt (1907).

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