Dan Schlossberg's Midweek Report: Title chases are far from finished • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan Schlossberg’s Midweek Report: Title chases are far from finished

on

NEW YORK — With the possible exception of the San Francisco Giants, who have a comfortable lead in the National League West, none of the six divisional title chases are a sure thing.

Just six teams separate the five teams in the NL East, where the Atlanta Braves just recently surrendered their season-long perch at the top of the division.

Even the big bat of Miguel Cabrera might not be enough for Detroit to keep its AL Central crown.

Even the big bat of Miguel Cabrera might not be enough for Detroit to keep its AL Central crown.

Even the Detroit Tigers, heavily favored in the AL Central, have been feeling the heat from the onrushing Kansas City Royals.

The Oakland Athletics, topping the AL West from the start, are still looking over their shoulder at several rivals, from the injury-riddled Texas Rangers to the upstart Seattle Mariners, not to mention the slugger-laden Los Angeles Angels.

With so many teams so closely packed, injuries, illnesses, call-ups, and trades will determine the playoff participants.

Baseball history is filled with teams that got hot after the All-Star break, rallying from last place to first when all cylinders suddenly clicked.

Exactly 100 years ago, the Boston “Miracle” Braves picked up their nickname by vaulting from the National League cellar to first place in the fall, followed by a sweep over the heavily favored Philadelphia Athletics.

No one can forget the 1951 New York Giants, whose hot stretch drive coincided with Brooklyn’s .500 play over the last six weeks, or the 1969 New York Mets, whose young pitching jelled so well in late summer that they easily passed the veteran Chicago Cubs to win by eight games.

In 1978, the Boston Red Sox blew a 14-game July lead to the New York Yankees, lost “the Bucky Dent game” in the playoffs, and watched the Yankees waltz to a world championship.

Big Papi's bat might not help Boston repeat its 2013 world championship

Big Papi’s bat might not help Boston repeat its 2013 world championship

The bottom line here is easy: teams that are contenders in April can become pretenders by Labor Day. The Atlanta Braves, who started 17-7 with unusually strong starting pitching early, are a case in point. They are losing regularly because they get more strikeouts from their hitters than their pitchers and can’t count on their defense or their bullpen from one game to the next.

Elsewhere around the majors:

With his first-inning home run Wednesday, Evan Gattis extended his hitting streak to 17, one game longer than Cal Ripken, Jr. ever had . . .

The return of veteran lefthanded starter Gio Gonzalez is expected to give the Washington Nationals a major shot in the arm . . .

NBC ‘Today’ host Matt Lauer interviewed retiring Yankees captain Derek Jeter in the dugout before the game against the Toronto Blue Jays . . .

Baltimore’s bid for the AL East title took a heavy hit when star catcher Matt Wieters went down with Tommy John surgery . . .

GATTIS

Evan Gattis (right) remains a hot hitter with big-time power behind Freddie Freeman in the Atlanta lineup.

Wonder how well the Chicago White Sox will do the speed skater they signed recently . . .

Among those taken in this year’s amateur draft were the sons of Mariano Rivera, Lenny Dykstra, and Cal Ripken, Jr. . . .

Although they will celebrate Old Timers Day Sunday, the Yankees will be on the road for the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech on July 4 . . .

Roger Angell, to be honored at the Hall of Fame on Induction Weekend, was in the pressbox at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night . . .

If the players rather than fans were picking the All-Star lineups, the NL’s starting catcher would probably be Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy rather than old standby Yadier Molina of the Cardinals . . .

Jose Bautista, an early favorite for American League MVP, entered play Wednesday two hits shy of 1,000 for his career and had reached base in all but four of the 72 games he played this season . . .

Greg Maddux has more victories than any living pitcher, one more than Roger Clemens . . .

Cleveland third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall may not be the most underrated player in the major leagues but he certainly comes close . . .

Former umpire Al Clark, promoting his book Called Out But Safe, did so well AlClarkbookduring a four-and-a-half inning stint on the radio for the Norfolk Tides that several listeners suggested afterward he might have a broadcast career ahead of him at age 66.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

Recommended for you