LEADING OFF: Cards seek sweet 16, Yanks-Red Sox for WC lead

Sports
Lars Nootbaar, Harrison Bader

St. Louis Cardinals outfielders Lars Nootbaar, right, and Harrison Bader (48) celebrate after defeating the Chicago Cubs 8-5 in a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

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

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CARDS FLY

Fresh off setting a franchise record with their 15th straight win, Harrison Bader and the Cardinals try to finish off a sweep at Wrigley Field.

The Cardinals hold a five-game lead over Philadelphia for the second NL wild-card spot.

St. Louis owns the longest winning streak in the majors since Cleveland took 22 in a row in 2017. The major league record is 26 straight victories by the New York Giants in 1916.

Bader went 4 for 4 with a home run as the Cardinals beat the Cubs 8-5 Saturday. The energetic center fielder also rushed in to take part in a rundown during a double play to help St. Louis break the team mark of 14 consecutive wins set in 1935, a year after Dizzy Dean and the Gas House Gang won the World Series.

The Cardinals date their history to 1892, when they were known as the Browns and joined the National League. They later were called the Perfectos before becoming the Cardinals in the early 20th century.

“My perspective is what time is the game tomorrow?” Bader said. “It’s great, don’t get me wrong. It’s part of history. There’s tremendous talent that’s come through. … But we have bigger things we’re focused on. We have more games to win. We’re going to take this energy as deep as we can.”

WILD NIGHT

Tied atop the American League wild-card standings, the Yankees and Red Sox square off for the final time this regular season when the longtime rivals meet in prime time at Fenway Park.

Jordan Montgomery (6-6, 3.55 ERA) pitches for the Yankees as they try to complete a three-game sweep. The left-hander has allowed no more than one run in eight of his last 10 starts, going 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA. He’ll be opposed by Eduardo Rodriguez (11-8, 4.97), who is 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA in nine starts since Aug. 1.

At the plate, Giancarlo Stanton has been coming up big for the Yankees when they need it most.

The slugger smashed a go-ahead grand slam over the Green Monster with two outs in the eighth inning Saturday, sending New York to a 5-3 victory over Boston. Stanton also had three hits and a three-run homer Friday night to help the Yankees win the series opener. He has seven home runs and 18 RBIs in his last 13 games.

MAKING HIS PITCH

Shohei Ohtani is set to start for the Angels, another chance to boost his dazzling credentials for the AL MVP award.

The two-way star is 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA on the mound — a 10th win would be a nice, round number, and he needs four strikeouts to reach 150.

Ohtani ranked among the MLB leaders with 45 home runs going into Saturday night’s home game against Seattle. He also had 95 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.

It remains to be seen whether Ohtani will pitch next weekend after this start at Angel Stadium.

ON THE CUSP

Milwaukee and Houston each have a chance to clinch a division title.

The Brewers, already assured a fourth straight playoff berth, can wrap up the NL Central crown with a win at home against the reeling Mets or a Cardinals loss to the Cubs in Chicago. Freddy Peralta (9-5, 2.65 ERA) faces New York, which has lost four in a row and 12 of 15.

Jose Altuve and the Astros need a victory in Oakland and a Seattle loss at the Los Angeles Angels to lock up the AL West. Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.22 ERA) is expected back from the 10-day injured list to start for Houston.

AILING ANDRUS

The A’s will see how shortstop Elvis Andrus is feeling, a day after he hurt his left ankle while scoring the winning run against Houston.

Andrus singled to start the ninth inning Saturday and raced home on a double by Starling Marte, stumbling across the plate.

Andrus was hurt rounding third base and helped off the field. Manager Bob Melvin said Andrus felt a pop in his ankle and was taken for X-rays.

“We won a game, that’s good, (but) we may lose one of our toughest guys,” Melvin said. “We’ve got our fingers crossed that it’s not something significant.”

Oakland is four games behind AL wild card co-leaders Boston and New York.

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