AROUND THE HORN

Cecil Whig - - INSIDEBASEBALL -

With the Roy­als seven games be­low .500 as re­cently as Aug. 5, Kansas City’s chances of mak­ing the play­offs, much less re­peat­ing as World Cham­pi­ons, looked dead in the wa­ter. But the Roy­als won 17 of their next 22 to climb three games back in the Wild Card stand­ings as of Aug. 28, though the Tigers and the Astros both stood be­tween the Roy­als and a play­off spot. The Roy­als don’t score runs — their 520 tied Oak­land for last in the Amer­i­can League — but the bullpen has made up for it with an fran­chise-record string of 42.1-con­sec­u­tive score­less bullpen in­nings, snapped on Aug. 26. …

Bal­ti­more led the AL East for most of the sea­son but fell out of first place in mid-Au­gust. It may be tough for the Ori­oles to get back in the driver’s seat. Start­ing cen­ter fielder Adam Jones suf­fered a ham­string in­jury on Aug. 26, and although Bal­ti­more didn’t put him on the dis­abled list, the in­jury cost him the next two games and is one that could linger. Backup Joey Rickard has been side­lined for over a month with a torn thumb lig­a­ment, and third- team op­tion Nolan Reimold was hit­ting .156/.289/.188 over his last 32 at-bats cov­er­ing a span of 30 games. Po­ten­tially more crip­pling was a shoul­der in­jury to No. 1 starter Chris Tillman (3.86 ERA) that trig­gered a DL stint back-dated to Aug. 21. Bal­ti­more is 20–6 when Tillman starts, but 51–53 with other start­ing pitch­ers. …

Two NL teams in con­tention could get a po­ten­tial Septem­ber boost with a re­turn from in­jury from their big­gest stars. Mi­ami right fielder Gian­carlo Stan­ton was originally ruled out for the sea­son af­ter an Aug. 13 groin in­jury, but Jon Hey­man of To­day’s Knuck­le­ball tweeted that Stan­ton could re­turn in late Septem­ber if his re­hab goes “ab­so­lutely per­fect.” Mean­while, base­ball’s best pitcher was also eyeing a Septem­ber re­turn with an un­spec­i­fied date. The Dodgers’ Clay­ton Ker­shaw threw a 60-pitch bullpen ses­sion on Aug. 26 and will ramp up his ac­tiv­ity in early Septem­ber. Ker­shaw has not pitched since June 26 due to a her­ni­ated disc. …

Wash­ing­ton may not be quite as ner­vous about the health of Stephen Stras­burg af­ter its 28-year-old ace, on the DL with right el­bow sore­ness, played catch in the out­field on Aug. 25. That said, Stras­burg’s health is al­ways a con­cern. This is Stras­burg’s sec­ond DL stint this sea­son, his fourth in two years and his sev­enth since his MLB ca­reer be­gan in 2010. Be­fore land­ing on the DL, he gave up 19 runs (all earned) in 11.2 in­nings span­ning his last three starts.

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