Two teams guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason Saturday as the Indians clinched the American League Central with an 8-4 win over the Royals and the Astros locked up at least a share of the AL West with an 8-6 win over the Mariners.
While it would seem in recent weeks the Indians are on a World Series collision course with the Dodgers, the Astros have gotten lost in the shuffle. However, with Saturday’s win over the Mariners, Houston has now won 90 games and they will have at least a 14-game lead in their division with 14 games remaining when the day is done.
Houston had the best record in baseball for a good portion of the first half of the season, and they had the best record in the AL until the Indians went on their 22-game winning streak. The Astros know the Indians are hot, but they also know they have a pretty good team too.
“Someone had to win 20-plus games in a row to even be relevant with us, so that tells you what kind of season we’re having,” manager A.J. Hinch said, via MLB.com.
The Astros are on a three-game winning streak of their own and have won 11 of their last 16 games. They acquired new ace Justin Verlander prior to the waiver deadline and 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel tossed six innings of four-hit, one run ball in the team’s win Saturday.
Both teams are healthy and have two of the best lineups in baseball with the Astros leading MLB with a .281 batting average and the Indians sitting in fifth with a .263 mark.
Cleveland and the Dodgers may seemingly be on a collision course, but the Astros could stand in the way of an Indians World Series run. Whether or not they derail it remains to be seen.
Studs of the Night
Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldon brought rain Saturday with a 4-for-5 night that included two solo home runs, four runs scored and no strikeouts in a 7-2 win over the Twins.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson also tallied four hits in Chicago’s 10-4 win over the Tigers. He went 4 for 5 with a double and two stolen bases.
Dud of the Night
The Orioles’ pitching staff had a day to forget in a 9-3 loss to the Yankees. Jeremy Hellickson tossed just three innings while allowing four hits, four walks and six earned runs. The Orioles have given up 150 runs to the Yankees this season, which is the most any single opponent has allowed another to score in one year in the expansion era. If the Yankees reach the postseason, they can probably send a thank you note to the Orioles bullpen.
Throwing arms are not meant to be this good. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado made the difficult look simple in Colorado’s 16-0 win over the Padres.
It only LOOKS easy because it’s Nolan. pic.twitter.com/s7jIxGYj6V
— MLB (@MLB) September 17, 2017
Dodgers (96-52) at Nationals (89-59) — There’s a good one on tap for Sunday Night Baseball as Dodgers’ lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-7, 3.59 ERA) takes on Nationals’ fire-baller Stephen Strasburg (13-4, 2.64). The Nationals will be trying to avoid the sweep in what could very well be a National League Championship Series preview.