After going homerless in three games at Coors Field, Giancarlo Stanton returned home and crushed his 58th home run:
— MLB (@MLB) September 29, 2017
I love that the guy making the catch is like 500 feet from home plate and still wearing a glove.
Hey, let's just hang out at the bar tonight and I'll bring my glove. You never know when Stanton will hit one out here.
With this blast, Stanton became the first player to reach 58 since Ryan Howard did it with the Phillies in 2006. Howard was watching:
— Ryan Howard (@ryanhoward) September 29, 2017
Howard actually had a great chance at 60 that season. He was sitting on 56 with 21 games remaining, but hit just two the rest of the way -- although he hit .328 and received 14 intentional walks to post a .540 OBP, so it wasn't like he went into a deep slump. Howard would win MVP honors that year even though the Phillies missed the playoffs, making him one of just seven MVP winners since 2000 on a non-playoff team (Barry Bonds in 2001 and 2004; Alex Rodriguez in 2003; Albert Pujols in 2008; Bryce Harper in 2015; and Mike Trout in 2016).
Does Stanton have a chance? Of those seven, only A-Rod played on a losing team, so that could hurt Stanton in voting. Plus, there are several other strong candidates, including Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.
I can't remember an MVP race so wide open among so many candidates. Anyway, Stanton helped his cause by later crushing No. 59:
— #Statcast (@statcast) September 29, 2017
Wow! He has three games to tie Babe Ruth at 60 and then Roger Maris at 61. The Braves will start rookies Luiz Gohara, Lucas Sims and Max Fried. One of the most impressive aspects of Stanton's season is he has done this while playing in one of the toughest home run parks in the majors. Marlins Park ranks 25th in home run factor. Stanton has hit well there, with 31 home runs compared to 28 on the road. Maybe as far as he hits them it doesn't really matter, but could you imagine him in Philly or Coors Field or Camden Yards? (Of course, he has also benefited from some bad pitching in the National League East. The Phillies, Braves and Mets all rank in the bottom half in pitching in the NL.)
So, can he get to 60?
"It's impossible not to think about it, but the more you think about [it] the harder it's going to be," he said after the game. "If it happens, it happens. If not, it's not failure. I think I'll survive."
Prediction: Three home runs this weekend. And you know what that means.
That's right ... it means 62 home runs.
Red Sox, Yankees both lose. The Astros jumped all over Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez for a 5-0 lead in the second inning. That's four bad starts in a row from the Boston rotation -- Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and now Rodriguez. Suddenly, David Price and even Doug Fister may loom larger in the postseason. Anyway, it was 9-2 in the top of the fourth.
Why is that important? At Yankee Stadium, the Yankees led the Rays 4-1 after four innings. There's a scoreboard at Yankee Stadium. Joe Girardi knew what was going on at Fenway. If the Yankees win, Boston's lead drops to two games, and with the Yankees playing an afternoon game on Friday a win there would put even more pressure on Boston on Friday night.
So I can't understand why Girardi would then leave Sonny Gray in to give up five runs in the fifth inning. What's the purpose of having such a deep bullpen if you're not going to turn to it in a game like this, when you still have a chance to win the American League East?
OK, Chad Green and Dellin Betances were unavailable, but you cannot let a 4-1 lead slip away like this. It's bad managing. After Wilson Ramos homered to give the Rays a 5-4 lead, Girardi still let Gray face another batter -- Adeiny Hechavarria singled -- and when he did go to the pen it wasn't Tommy Kahnle or David Robertson, but Jonathan Holder. Two more runs would score in the inning and the Rays would go on to a 9-6 win.
— Craig Seward (@craigseward) September 29, 2017
That leaves Boston's magic number at one, so the Yankees have to win their final three and the Red Sox have to lose their final three to force a tie. The bigger picture is that Yankees fans better hope this isn't a sign of how Girardi is going to manage in the postseason. With his bullpen, he needs to err on the side of caution and remove his starter a batter too early as opposed to two batters too late. He has done that at times, most notably with CC Sabathia, but he also shouldn't hesitate to give the quick hook to Gray or even Luis Severino. Stay tuned.
Colorado Rockies: 86 wins
Brewers: 84 wins
St. Louis Cardinals: Eliminated with loss to Cubs
The Rockies host the Dodgers and the Brewers travel to St. Louis, to play a deflated Cardinals team that was just dropped from the race. That could be good news for the Brewers. The Rockies are still in good shape, however: Even with the Milwaukee win, their playoff odds dropped from 95 percent all the way down to ... 94 percent (according FiveThirtyEight.com).
Stat of the day. The Astros are the first team to win four straight by nine-plus runs since the 1887 Detroit Wolverines. But you knew that.
That team was led by Hall of Famers Dan Brouthers and Sam Thompson and staff ace Pretzels Getzien. Lady Baldwin won 13 games and the team won the World Series over American Association champion St. Louis 10 games to 5. Unfortunately, the Wolverines were forced to disband after the 1888 season.
But I digress. The Astros have four regulars slugging over .500 -- Jose Altuve (.555), Carlos Correa (.553), Marwin Gonzalez (.533) and George Springer (.529). That may not seem so unusual, but the most recent team with four regulars who slugged .500 were the Twins, Yankees and Phillies in 2009. (The Nationals also have four guys doing it this season.)
With 99 wins, the Astros could also join the Dodgers and Indians with 100 wins. We've had three 100-win teams just five times:
2003 -- Yankees, Braves, Giants
2002 -- Yankees, A's, Braves
1998 -- Yankees, Braves, Astros
1977 -- Yankees, Phillies, Royals
1942 -- Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers
Catch of the day. Leonys Martin ends the game in style:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 29, 2017
Not a bad way to eliminate your rival.