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LEADING OFF: Brewers-Cardinals, A’s-M’s highlight night

September 24, 2018

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

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WILD SHOWDOWN

Milwaukee leads the NL wild-card race by two games over St. Louis going into a three-game series at the Cardinals. St. Louis has a 1½-game lead for the second wild card over Colorado, which hosts Philadelphia.

Right-hander Jack Flaherty (8-8, 3.08 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Cardinals and right-hander Chase Anderson (9-8, 3.93 ERA) for the Brewers. Flaherty is 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers.

St. Louis has won six of seven coming in and Milwaukee three of four.

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SCOREBOARD WATCHERS

The Rockies could have a less-motivated opponent in four games at Coors Field. The Phillies were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, but at 78-77 hope to finish above .500 in manager Gabe Kapler’s first season.

Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin (11-7, 4.09 ERA) will try to win his third straight start. Colorado opens its final homestand with left-hander Tyler Anderson (6-9, 4.76).

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ON THE ROAD

After failing to clinch a wild card at home, Oakland plays at Seattle and gives right-hander Daniel Mengden (7-6, 4.00 ERA) his first start since June 23. Mengden is 1-0 with 1.83 ERA in five relief appearances since being called up from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 27.

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NOT QUITE DEAD YET

The Rays would be a tough opponent in a wild-card game. Fortunately for the rest of the AL playoff teams, they likely won’t get there.

Tampa Bay is 16-5 in September and a major league-best 25-7 since Aug. 19. And the Rays could send Cy Young Award hopeful Blake Snell (21-5, 1.90 ERA) to the mound in the winner-take-all game. But Tampa Bay would have to win all seven games on its final homestand and the Oakland would have to lose its remaining six games for the Rays to overtake the A’s. The Rays host the Yankees and playoff-bound New York has plenty to play for, trying to stay ahead of Oakland and host the wild-card game.

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HOME-FIELD DISADVANTAGE

The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers (87-69) are one game behind the NL East champion Braves (88-68) heading into the season’s final week, and whichever team finishes with a better record could end up getting home-field advantage in the NL Division Series. The question is whether either team would want it. Atlanta and Los Angeles have better records on the road than at home. The Braves finished their second season at SunTrust Park with a 43-38 record there and were 12th in the majors in average attendance. The Dodgers have great fan support, drawing nearly 47,000 a game, but went 44-37 at home, their worst record at Chavez Ravine since 2011.

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