What to expect in the major leagues today:
See you in October?
The Phillies and Cardinals, two perennial playoff teams, are fighting for their postseason lives. With plenty on the line, they will start a four-game series in St. Louis tonight. Philadelphia leads the season series 3-1, having held the Cardinals to fewer than three runs in three of those games. Jayson Werth, who has gone deep twice, was one of six Phillies to homer against St. Louis pitching in a four-game set at Citizens Bank Park in May. But the slugger to watch is Ryan Howard, a St. Louis native who is a career .381 hitter with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 17 games at Busch Stadium (and a .367-14-44 hitter in 34 games against the Cardinals overall).
One of baseball’s great rivalries will be renewed tonight when the Dodgers host the Giants. With both teams in pursuit of the first-place Padres in the four-team NL West race, this is a vital series for the Los Angeles and San Francisco. It has been a one-sided affair this season, however, with LA winning five of the six games between the teams, including a three-game sweep at AT&T Park last month. Dodgers outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have combined for four homers, 11 RBIs and a .382 average (13-for-34) against San Francisco pitching this season. Meanwhile, Juan Uribe and Eugenio Velez have combined to drive in 10 of the Giants’ 24 runs against LA.
The Rangers haven’t reached the postseason since 1999, and the Tigers have been there just once (a World Series loss in 2006) since 1987. Both teams are in good position to end those droughts as they kick off a three-game series in Detroit tonight. This series will feature a couple of Triple Crown and MVP contenders in Texas’ Josh Hamilton and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.