IN THE HEAD: NL East Showdown, Wild Cards at 16, Yanks-Jays | Sports News

A look at what’s going on around the majors today:

Zack Wheeler (14-9, 2.79 ERA) throws for Philadelphia in Game 1 of a pivotal three-game series in Atlanta. Charlie Morton (13-6, 3.53) is on the mound for the Braves, who lead the NL East by 2 1/2 games against the Phillies with a few days left in the season.

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“I think you’re coming to the end of the year and looking for an opportunity to qualify for the playoffs, and that’s exactly what we have,” said Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi. “That’s what we’re all looking forward to. It’s exciting. We’ve got a shot.

Atlanta has led the division since Aug. 15 and is looking to win it for the fourth year in a row.

After leaving Atlanta, the Phillies end the regular season with three games in Miami, while the Braves end at home with three games against the Mets, with a makeup game against Colorado possible on October 4 if it is necessary to decide. from eastern NL.

The booming Cardinals have won a club-record 16 straight games heading into their series opener at home against NL champion Central Milwaukee. A victory over the Brewers, or losses to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, gives St. Louis the NL’s second wild card for his third straight playoff spot.

The winning streak is the longest in majors since Cleveland won 22 in a row in 2017, and the best in the National League since the New York Giants won 16 in a row in 1951 en route to a improbable pennant.

Adam Wainwright (16-7, 3.05 ERA) has won five straight decisions for the Cardinals and nine of his last 10. He throws against double All-Star Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.52).

The top two teams in the American League go head-to-head when Tampa Bay visits Houston in a potential preview of the AL Championship Series.

With a victory, the Rays (97-59), champions of the East of the AL, took the advantage on the field throughout the playoffs of the AL. Tampa Bay is the franchise’s best in 38 of 0.500 games and tied the 2008 AL Championship team for most wins in a season.

Houston, which has lost four games in a row, can wrap up the AL West title with a Seattle win and loss at home to Oakland. The Mariners have won 10 straight wins against Athletics, tying the team record for most consecutive wins against a single opponent.

José Urquidy (8-3, 3.56 ERA) has won his last four decisions for the Astros (91-65). Michael Wacha (3-5, 5.49) starts for the Rays, who have won four consecutive wins overall.

Six-game-winning slugger Giancarlo Stanton and the Yankees are starting a three-game streak in Toronto with huge playoff implications.

New York holds the first of two wild card spots by one game against Boston, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays another comeback. Stanton just wrapped up a massive streak at Fenway Park, where the Yankees completed a three-game sweep against rival Red Sox on Sunday night.

Just activated from the injured list, Jameson Taillon (8-6, 4.41 ERA) should start for New York against Hyun Jin Ryu (13-9, 4.34).

Toronto swept a four-game streak at Yankee Stadium earlier this month and is 10-6 against New York this year.

Boston is playing last-place Baltimore with Chris Sale (5-0, 2.57) on the mound for the Red Sox.

Brandon Belt, first baseman and home run point guard from San Francisco, has a broken left thumb and his availability for the final week of the regular season and playoffs is unclear.

The Giants said an x-ray on Monday showed the fractured bone and Belt “would continue to meet with doctors over the next two days to work out a recovery plan and a timeline for his return.”

The injury is a big blow to the NL West leaders, who start a home series with the Diamondbacks, last place Tuesday night, still looking to win their Premier League title since 2012. The Dodgers are two games away from last week. of the season. .

Belt won a 6-2 victory at Colorado Sunday in the seventh inning after being hit in the left hand with a pitch as he lined up for cushioning.

The 33-year-old belt hits 0.274 with a career-high 29 homers and 59 RBIs in just 97 games and 325 at bat. It has a .975 OPS.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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