The Minnesota Twins played their way into the final postseason position in the AL Wild Card standings last week, but the Rockies lost ground in the NL.
Byron Buxton picked the perfect time to heat up offensively. The former top prospect, who has been frustratingly unproductive at the plate for the majority of his first three major league seasons, was a major run producer for the Minnesota Twins last week.
Buxton hit .333/.343/.818 with five home runs and 10 RBI in eight games for the Twins last week. The 23-year-old had the first multi-homer game of his career Sunday, when he connected for three long balls to lead Minnesota to a 7-2 win over the Blue Jays.
The win clinched the three-game series in Toronto, and pulled the Twins up to .500 over the course of their eight-game road-trip, which started with five games in four days in Chicago earlier in the week. Coupled with back-to-back series losses for the Angels last week, Minnesota finished the week with a 1.5-game lead in a crowded AL Wild Card race. As we prepare for the end of August, six teams are within three games of the final postseason spot in the junior circuit.
Meanwhile, the National League Wild Card race is heating up. The Rockies have spent literally the entire season in a playoff spot, and built a huge lead during a strong first half, but their cushion has gotten much smaller in recent weeks. Even after a series victory over the Braves in Atlanta over the weekend, Colorado is now just 3.5 games ahead of the Brewers for the second Wild Card spot. The red-hot Marlins are only 4.5 games back.
American League Division Leaders
Boston Red Sox (73-57, .562)
Doug Fister has been a pleasant surprise for the Red Sox, and the veteran right-hander did his best to help Boston maintain its lead in the American League East. Fister allowed a solo home run in the first inning August 22 against Cleveland, but didn’t allow a hit the rest of the game to pick up a complete game victory. He was 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings across two starts following a tough loss to Baltimore. Fister surrendered three runs on six hits and four walks for the week while striking out 13.
Cleveland Indians (73-56, .566)
The Cleveland pitching staff was practically unhittable over the weekend. The Tribe shut out Kansas City three straight games, and including the final inning of their 13-6 victory over the Red Sox Thursday, have now held opponents without a run in 28 straight frames.
Rookie Ryan Merritt started the three-game sweep with 6.2 scoreless innings, Mike Clevinger allowed just four hits and two walks in six shutout frames in Saturday’s matchup (bouncing back nicely from two rough outings), and Carlos Carrasco allowed six hits without a walk in seven shutout innings Sunday.
Houston Astros (79-51, .613)
The thoughts of the Astros were certainly divided between their three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels and the flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey back home in Houston over the weekend, but the ‘Stros were somehow able to manage a series win in the three-game set.
Josh Reddick had 12 hits in six games and Alex Bregman added 11 for Houston. Brian McCann came up with the big hit in the eighth inning Sunday to cap the 7-5 victory. McCann finished the week with five RBI in three games.