Play­offs of­fer fresh start

Fort McMurray Today - - SPORTS - NOAH TRISTER

There’s nothing too trou­ble­some about a Septem­ber hit­ting funk — as long as your team makes the post-sea­son.

For Paul Gold­schmidt and Corey Sea­ger, Oc­to­ber is a chance to wipe the slate clean.

Gold­schmidt is hit­ting .171 since the start of Septem­ber fol­low­ing his 0-for-2 show­ing Sun­day, but no­body will be too wor­ried about that if he can lead the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs to a win over Colorado on Wed­nes­day night in the Na­tional League wild-card game. Who­ever wins that faces the Los An­ge­les Dodgers, whose own star hit­ter has been slump­ing. Sea­ger hit .179 in Septem­ber, although he went 3-for-3 with a dou­ble on Sun­day, the first day of Oc­to­ber.

A Septem­ber slump can cer­tainly hurt a team’s chances of mak­ing the post­sea­son, but once a player gets in, his late-sea­son num­bers don’t nec­es­sar­ily mean much. Last year, Kris Bryant hit .221 over his fi­nal 26 games of the reg­u­lar sea­son. He then bat­ted over .300 in the post-sea­son to help the Cubs win the World Se­ries.

So Gold­schmidt and Sea­ger have good rea­sons to think they can bounce back, and if they start hit­ting again, they’ll surely agree that it was bet­ter to slump in Septem­ber than Oc­to­ber. The same holds true for pitch­ers.

Jake Ar­ri­eta of the Cubs went 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in Septem­ber, and Dellin Be­tances of the Yan­kees al­lowed six runs in 92/3 in­nings, walk­ing seven bat­ters in that span.

Cause for con­cern? Sure. But for both of those pitch­ers, the next time on the mound mat­ters more than what­ever hap­pened down the stretch.

Here are a few other de­vel­op­ments from around base­ball: Just short Gian­carlo Stan­ton didn’t quite make it to 60 home runs, but his to­tal of 59 was the high­est in the ma­jors since 2001, when Barry Bonds hit a record 73 and Sammy Sosa hit 64. There were a record 6,105 homers hit in 2017. A late surge by Aaron Judge meant Stan­ton only won the ma­jor league home run ti­tle by seven.

The tight­est race may have been for the stolen base lead. Mi­ami’s Dee Gor­don fin­ished first with 60, edg­ing Cincin­nati’s Billy Hamil­ton by one. Hamil­ton has stolen 56, 57, 58 and 59 bases over the past four years, but he’s never fin­ished atop the ma­jors. Gor­don led the ma­jors with 64 in 2014 and 58 in 2015. Last year, Jonathan Vil­lars swiped 62 bases to beat out Hamil­ton by four.

At the bot­tom

Five years ago, Detroit and San Francisco played in the World Se­ries. This year, those teams fin­ished tied for the worst record in base­ball at 64-98,

The Tigers lost 24 of their last 30 games and will now pick first in next year’s draft. The last time Detroit had the No. 1 pick, it took pitcher Matt An­der­son in 1997.

High­light

San Francisco’s Matt Cain re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion Satur­day when he walked off the mound in the fi­nal ap­pear­ance of his ca­reer. Cain pitched five shutout in­nings against San Diego. Cain was part of three World Se­ries ti­tles for the Giants, and he threw a per­fect game in 2012.

Line of the week

On a lighter note for the Tigers, util­i­ty­man An­drew Romine be­came the fifth ma­jor lea­guer to play every po­si­tion in one game. Detroit beat Min­nesota 3-2 on Satur­day night, and Romine played the fol­low­ing po­si­tions in or­der: left field, cen­tre field, right field, third base, short­stop, sec­ond base, catcher, sec­ond base again, pitcher and first base.

JEN­NIFER STE­WART/GETTY IMAGES

Ari­zona slug­ger Paul Gold­schmidt has hit .171 since the start of Septem­ber, but fans will be for­giv­ing if he can lead the Di­a­mond­backs over the Colorado Rock­ies in the Na­tional League wild-card game on Wed­nes­day.

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