Getaway Day: It's an all-inclusive Wild Card party

Mike Trout has propelled the Angels to one of two AL Wild Card spots. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It was quite the week all around the collective MLB diamond. Giancarlo Stanton declared one-man war on everything thrown his way, the Red Sox and Cardinals went streaking, the Astros turned very mortal, and the Dodgers kept on keeping on.

While the Dodgers' monopoly over one coast of the NL continues, the Nationals' reign on the other faced a scare when Bryce Harper had a date gone bad with a slippery first base Saturday night. Luckily enough, the NL East lead is secure, something that can hardly be said in the American League Wild Card scene, which has become the most well-attended party in the game. As the new week takes shape, eight teams are within three games of claiming a place in the AL postseason.

It is a busy scene amid what is shaping up to be a fight to the finish in the AL standings, and we have that and much more in this week's edition of Getaway Day.

Baltimore Orioles: Aided by the wide-spanning parity across the middle class of the American League, the relative bump in success from the Orioles has placed them firmly in the Wild Card picture, even if they are struggling to keep their head over the waters of .500. Much credit should go to one of the more understated trade acquisitions of the year in Tim Beckham, who is hitting .491 since coming over to the O’s.

Boston Red Sox: Although their win streak came to an end after eight games, it was quite a week for Red Sox arms. Rick Porcello threw the eighth immaculate inning of the year on Wednesday, setting the single-season MLB record for such frames. Meanwhile, Chris Sale has essentially cornered the market on making overpowering batters seem routine. He has run up his 10+ strikeout game tab to 16 on year and pulled off the feat twice this week after ringing up 12 K's on Sunday night. Only Randy Johnson has pulled off the feat more in a single season since 2000 more times than Sale now has.

Chicago White Sox: In a six-month season, there is bound to be some unlikely things that happen along the way. However, when the deconstructed White Sox — who far and away own the worst record in the American Leaguev— broke a six-game losing streak by sweeping the 70+ win Houston Astros, a new bar was set in the "what the hell happened here?" department. Congratulations to everybody involved.

Cleveland Indians: In between taking a pair of Wild Card contenders from each league to task over the last week in the Rockies and Rays, the Tribe spent the week alternating between taking blows and throwing counters. The Indians replaced a lost All-Star in Michael Brantley by bringing another aboard in Jay Bruce and rebounded by nearly celebrating a no-hitter from the hands of Carlos Carrasco in the process. It was a solid week’s work as the team prepares to meet the two-month mark of being atop the AL Central this week.

Detroit Tigers: Maybe, just maybe we have figured out what it takes for the Tigers to get it done this year. They won twice last week when scoring 10 runs or more. In one case, it was a 10-0 win over the Pirates, and in the other it was a 12-11 victory over the Twins. Otherwise, they lost every game on the week in an uninspiring fashion, but hey, at least there’s something to build from, right?

Byron Buxton is helping the Twins with his glove and his bat. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros: OK, while it is not time to panic in full in Houston, the facts are the facts, and they read that the Astros lost five straight last week to White Sox (gasp) and the Rangers. It was two more L’s than they took in the entire month of May in a single week’s time.

Yet while that is a disappointing outcome for a team that essentially opted out of making any major upgrades as the trade deadline passed, the fact that even with this mid-month stumble, the Stros still have the comfort of a 12-game lead in the standings… for now.

Kansas City Royals: The I-70 Series was equally bad for the Royals on both sides of the state, as they dropped four straight to their intrastate rivals in St. Louis. While the undeniable power of the Rally Cat could be to blame for a portion of their struggles, the Royals are now tasked with not only hanging in to chase the Indians, but also fending off the revitalized Twins as well. Even with this skid, they still are very much relevant in the all-inclusive experience that is the AL Wild Card picture.

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout celebrated his 26th birthday by raking in his 1,000thcareer hit on Monday, but how the week ended likely means much more than how it began for him and his teammates. That is because at the end of a week’s work that sees them bring a six-game winning streak to the new week, the Angels are currently in control of one of the AL Wild Card spots, a further sign of a triumphant year of overcoming the odds in Anaheim.

Minnesota Twins: Perhaps the death of the Twins was greatly exaggerated. On the heels of a week of beating up on the Brewers and an always timely meeting with the Tigers, the Twins are back in the race suddenly. A huge catalyst in the process has been Byron Buxton, as the rangy former top prospect has brought his batting gloves in addition to his potentially "Golden" one as well. Buxton is hitting .342 since July 1 and beginning to finally show the promise to live up to the sizable expectations he has long carried.

New York Yankees: After opening the weekend by bringing an end to Boston's eight-game win streak, the Yanks fell by the waist side, dropping the final two games of the week's spotlight series, including an extra-innings finale.

As they enter the new week with a still sizable gap behind Boston but slightly comfortable lead in the AL Wild Card picture, they will head into action down two more starting arms, as both Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia headed to the disabled list over the weekend. More than ever, the moves to land Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia loom as large victories already for the Yanks.

Elvis Andrus has been red hot for the Rangers. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics: Sometimes if you can’t join them, you might as well beat them, or something like that. Although being one of the few teams whose invite to the AL Wild Card race seems to have gotten lost in the mail, the A’s are firmly positioned to play the spoiler across the board. They have four straight series with teams (Angels, Mariners, Orioles and Royals) within two games of controlling a Wild Card spot for the time being.

Seattle Mariners: Somehow, beyond what should register as logic and sensibility, the Mariners are still hanging in there this year. Despite having a full rotation and half of a bullpen on the disabled list, Seattle still sits on the edge of the Wild Card race even after taking a brutal four-game sweep at the hands of the Angels over the weekend. Albeit, it is an effort that has been made easier by Nelson Cruz and his seven home runs so far on the month, but getting some arms back will be necessary soon.

Tampa Bay Rays: Tampa continues to get its chops tested as the team trudges through a grueling stretch of the schedule that exclusively consists of division leader types from this year: the Yankees, Astros, Brewers, Red Sox and Indians — since July 27. And it has not been a kind run of the gauntlet either, as the Rays managed a single win for the week.

But guess what? Despite it all, they are still 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, because why not? Everybody else is here too.

Texas Rangers: Right place at the right time for the Rangers, as they caught their slumping in-state divisional foes in Houston amid their recent slide and won the weekend series at their expense. With a red-hot Elvis Andrus leading the way and Joey Gallo hitting tape-measure shots on a weekly basis, it still seems odd that this was a team that was seemingly cashing their chips in just a few weeks ago. Clearly, the Rangers still have some life left in them.

Toronto Blue Jays: The injury bug has re-emerged in T-Dot, as Troy Tulowitzki’s season came to close this week and Russell Martin followed him out of action as well. All the same, the Jays powered on and came away twice as series victors on the week, taking out both the Yankees and Pirates. Now they enter a run where they will face the Rays seven times in their next 10 games. Spoiler season could be abound for John Gibbons’ guys.

Nolan Arenado became the first MLBer to reach 100 RBI this year before getting injured. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks: Halfway through their grueling 10-game stint with the Dodgers, Cubs and Astros, the D-Backs are looking for a bit better fortune as the back end is set to begin.

Amid it all, there was the most exciting play in baseball to take the edge off, as David Peralta pulled off an inside-the-park homer on Saturday evening in a win over the Cubs.

Atlanta Braves: Streak season is back in Atlanta, and it headed in a discouraging direction yet again. The club endured its third losing streak of five or more games in the last two weeks and fifth overall on the year. Over the course of it, one of the oddest injuries of the year sidelined shortstop Johan Cormego, who blew his knee out reaching down to grab a handful of infield dirt while running on to the field to start an early week tilt against the Phillies.

Chicago Cubs: It was a week that had little in the form of good news for the Cubs, who took a couple of bad losses at the hands of the Giants to open the week before locking up with the D-Backs over the weekend. It was a path that became more treacherous in the process, as it was announced that their ultra-hot catcher Willson Contreras would be out of action for a month or more with a badly timed hamstring injury.

Cincinnati Reds: While it is a long-lost campaign for Cincy, the Reds' chance to leave their imprint on the NL Central race is currently upon them. In the midst of a run where 13 of their next 16 games are against three of the four teams ahead of them — who are all separated by fewer than four games — they can shake the picture up quite a bit.

Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado opened the week by becoming the first playter to meet the 100 RBI mark on the year and ended it by potentially facing a badly timed stint out of action. The star third baseman exited Sunday’s game against the Marlins after being hit by a pitch on his left hand. The prospect of any extended period without Arenado at the heart of the Colorado lineup changes nothing short of everything about the NL Wild Card picture down the stretch.

Giancarlo Stanton tied the Marlins’ single-season home run record already. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins: The Marlins played seven times last week, and Giancarlo Stanton homered in six of them. All in all, Stanton has now gone deep in nine of the last 10 days and enters the new week tied with Gary Sheffield for the Marlins’ single-season home run record with 42. The MLB leader hit his fourth in as many days on Sunday, which doubled as his 250th of his career. The extraordinary pace could put Stanton on a collision course to become the first hitter to reach 50 homers since 2010, and he could do so with all of September ahead of him.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Milwaukee fall from grace continued with impressive velocity last week. The Brewers played the role of springboard for the Twins over the course of a four-game sweep split over a home and away series. To top it off, they got a healthy case of heartburn from an 11-10 loss against the lowly Reds, as the Crew continues to live on thin ice in an attempt to salvage the lost lead that is up for grabs in the NL Central.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The weekly assessment of the Dodgers is essentially at the cut-and-paste level from week to week now. Here’s the cliff notes version of it: They won a lot, Cody Bellinger hit a few impressive home runs and their march on history kept up its torrential pace. With a week ahead split between dates with the White Sox and Tigers, another extended winning streak should be ahead. Yep, that about sums it up.

New York Mets: Finally, they have been able to start the unloading process. An otherwise nondescript week in the Mets’ wind down to the finish was highlighted by beginning their drawn-out effort to clear some veteran contracts from their roster. Jay Bruce headed to Cleveland, while Neil Walker is making his way back to the NL Central with the Brewers. Time will tell if Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera and more could be in motion next.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are making a bottom shelf tour around the National League. It opened with a pair of victories over the Braves before balancing out with a trio of losses to the Mets. The tour continues with stops in San Diego and San Francisco before pulling in against the Marlins on the back end. It is virtually a who’s who of teams that will be picking toward the top of the 2018 MLB Draft — get hype!

The Washington Nationals will be without Bryce Harper for a while. Michael Owens-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates: It was a two steps forward, three steps back type of week for the Pirates. They failed to follow up on taking three of four from the Tigers to start the week by taking two resounding losses to the Blue Jays to finish the weekend. The third week of August could be the hill that the Pirates either live or die upon, as they now face a pivotal pair of matchups with the two teams ahead of them in the NL Central in the Brewers and Cardinals.

San Diego Padres: If nothing else, the young Padres have shown some fight and mixed in a bit of promise along the way. That effort was rewarded on Sunday, when manager Andy Green was given a three-year extension that will keep him in town through 2021. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

San Francisco Giants: It took long enough, but the Giants have finally begun to come around of late. They have taken the fight to National League playoff contenders, winning series against the Diamondbacks and Cubs and battling the Nationals over the weekend as well. With a week ahead against the Marlins and Phillies awaiting, the Giants could find enough room to salvage a bit of face as the season dwindles down.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Rally Cat rides high for the Cardinals, both literally and figuratively. Propelled on the back of a pair midweek grand slams from Yadier Molina and Dexter Fowler, the Cardinals went on a season-resurrecting eight-game win streak that pulled them briefly into a tie atop the NL Central. Along the way, they became the first team in the last 11 years to score eight+ runs in six consecutive victories.

Washington Nationals: Even after a charmed season that has seen them spend a grand total of one day more than a half game out of first place, the Nationals had a horrifying brush with mortality on Saturday night that had them envisioning it all going up in smoke in an instant. Bryce Harper suffered a badly bruised kneecap when he slipped off a rain-wet first base late in Saturday’s game. While Harper avoided any ligament damage, he is slated to be out of action indefinitely. It is a good thing that the Nats are approaching magic number territory, but that is still the type of loss that could shift the postseason potential of the team if it does not heal in full.

QUIZ: Name every player to win multiple MLB MVP awards

31 players in MLB history have won at least two AL or NL MVP awards. How many can you name in five minutes?

Good luck!


7 / 86-07
Barry Bonds
3 / 46-65
Yogi Berra
3 / 48-57
Roy Campanella
3 / 36-51
Joe DiMaggio
3 / 25-45
Jimmie Foxx
3 / 51-68
Mickey Mantle
3 / 41-63
Stan Musial
3 / 01-
Albert Pujols
3 / 94-16
Alex Rodriguez
3 / 72-89
Mike Schmidt
2 / 53-71
Ernie Banks
2 / 67-83
Johnny Bench
2 / 03-
Miguel Cabrera
2 / 25-37
Mickey Cochrane
2 / 23-39
Lou Gehrig
2 / 89-05
Juan Gonzalez
2 / 30-47
Hank Greenberg
2 / 15-37
Rogers Hornsby
2 / 28-43
Carl Hubbell
2 / 07-27
Walter Johnson
2 / 57-68
Roger Maris
2 / 51-73
Willie Mays
2 / 63-85
Joe Morgan
2 / 76-93
Dale Murphy
2 / 39-55
Hal Newhouser
2 / 81-01
Cal Ripken
2 / 56-76
Frank Robinson
2 / 90-08
Frank Thomas
2 / 11-
Mike Trout
2 / 39-60
Ted Williams
2 / 74-93
Robin Yount

Matt Whitener is St. Louis-based writer, radio host and 12-6 curveball enthusiast. He has been covering Major League Baseball since 2010, and dabbles in WWE, NBA and other odd jobs as well. Follow Matt on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.


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