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Marty’s musings: it’s pennant race time

And down the stretch they come...

MLB: AUG 04 Pirates at Brewers Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the happenings in the baseball world. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout the game, and highlighting key pitching matchups.

The Yankees lost a pivotal series to Cleveland while they try to keep pace with the Red Sox, who swept the Orioles, and Jays, who took a series from the Twins. Meanwhile in the National League West, the Giants are keeping the Dodgers at-bay.

News & Notes

3 - American League East teams vying for two wildcard spots. The Rays are running away with the division, but there are two wild card spots up for grabs between the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Yankees.

4 - Divisions that are basically wrapped-up. The Rays, White Sox, and Astros have basically secured their division pennants in the AL, the Brewers have essentially done the same in the NL Central. The Phillies are two games behind Atlanta for the NL East, and the Dodgers are just a game behind San Francisco, a similar place they’ve been since Memorial Day.

6 - Offensive categories that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the AL: average, home runs, on base percentage, slugging, OPS, and total bases. He’s the clear MVP favorite and doing everything he can to keep Toronto afloat in a close wild card race.

22 - Runs given up by the Yankees in two games over the weekend. They shut down Cleveland 8-0 on Friday, but looked completely overmatched in every aspect, being outscored 22-4 between Saturday and Sunday. Ace Gerrit Cole, who has been excellent for the Yanks all season was booed off the mound on Sunday after giving up seven runs in 5 ⅔ innings.

5 - Total pitches it took Atlanta left fielder Eddie Rosario to hit for the cycle on Sunday. He earned a single in the ninth inning that completed the feat in Atlanta’s 3-0 win over San Francisco.

14 - Year career for Ryan Braun is coming to an end. The much aligned slugger is calling it quits after a season in which he hasn’t even played one game. The 37-year-old finishes his career with a .296 average, 352 homers.

19 - Pitchers have crossed the 3,000 strikeout mark, with Max Scherzer notching number 3,000 last week against the Padres.

Injury Report

The Rays placed outfielder Kevin Kiermaier on the COVID 19 list. Tampa is in fine shape heading into October, and he should return well before the playoffs.

Mike Trout and Jo Adell are likely both done for the year in yet another lost season for the Angels. Trout hasn’t played since May due to a calf strain, and Adell hit his head against the outfield wall on a defense player and is suffering from an abdominal strain.

Series to Watch

Though the Diamondbacks are well out of the playoff picture, they have an opportunity to shake-up the NL race. They start the week with three games against Atlanta, and then play the Dodgers for three games.

San Francisco gets the inconsistent Padres for three and then Colorado for three games.

If the Phillies are going to make their move, this would be the week to do it. They have series against the Orioles and Pirates.

Toronto v. Tampa Bay

Robbie Ray (TOR) v. Shane Baz (TB), Monday at 7:10 ET

Alex Manoah (TOR) v. Drew Rasmussen (TB), Tuesday at 7:10 ET

TBD (TOR) v. Michael Wacha (TB), Wednesday at 3:10 ET

Boston v. New York

Luis Gill (NYY) v. Chris Sale (BOS), Friday at 7:10 ET

Gerrit Cole (NYY) v. Nick Pivetta (BOS), Saturday at 4:10 ET

Nestor Cortes (NYY) v. Nate Eovaldi (BOS), Sunday at 7:08 ET

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano