LEADING OFF: Twins in, Red Sox near clinch, testy Cubs-Cards

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


A day after clinching their first playoff spot since 2010, the Twins are back on the field for an afternoon game at Cleveland. Minnesota became the first team to lose at least 100 games and then make the postseason the following year. Manager Paul Molitor’s club will play in the AL wild-card game next Tuesday at either Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park. Boston leads New York by three games in the AL East.


Boston can clinch the AL East with a win over Houston at Fenway Park, plus a loss by the Yankees at home to Tampa Bay. Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6, 3.91 ERA) starts as the Red Sox try to wrap up the first set of back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history. Right fielder Mookie Betts (sore left wrist) and infielder Eduardo Nunez (right knee injury) have missed two straight games for Boston.


Major League Baseball hitters have once again swung – and missed – into the record book. For the 10th straight year, MLB batters have set the mark for most strikeouts in a season. They did it Wednesday, raising the whiff total to 39,168. That topped the 38,982 who fanned in 2016. New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has fanned the most often, 204 times. He’s also hit 50 home runs, helping MLB set a record for the highest homer total in a season.


Cubs star Anthony Rizzo was hit by a 99 mph fastball on the first pitch he saw from Michael Wacha with two outs and nobody on in the first inning Wednesday night. Rizzo was visibly upset after getting plunked, throwing his bat overhanded toward the Chicago dugout. Earlier in the day, Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham told media that he believed he was hit by a pitch on purpose by the Cubs a day earlier. Both batters were nailed in the ribs. The newly crowned NL Central champion Cubs wrap up the series against their longtime rivals at Busch Stadium.


White Sox rookie Dylan Covey aims once more for his first major league win. The 24-year-old righty is 0-7 with a 7.83 ERA since making his debut this year, allowing 19 home runs in 6 4 1/3 innings. Covey starts at home against the Los Angeles Angels.

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