5 MLB play­ers who could shine in Oc­to­ber

Post­sea­son is known to pro­duce sur­prises

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BOB KLAPISCH

Go­ing into the fi­nal week­end of the Ma­jor League Base­ball reg­u­lar sea­son, most of the races are over and the teams go­ing into the play­offs are set. Still, don’t throw in the towel on the reg­u­lar sea­son just yet. Here are seven rea­sons to pay at­ten­tion to the fi­nal week­end.

ONE SPOT RE­MAIN­ING

The Colorado Rock­ies are this­close to get­ting the sec­ond Na­tional League wild-card berth, with a two-game lead on the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers. The St. Louis Car­di­nals were elim­i­nated from the race with a loss Thurs­day. The Rock­ies close out with the Los An­ge­les Dodgers, the team with base­ball’s best record, and the Brew­ers and Car­di­nals play each other. One ad­van­tage for the Rock­ies: They’ll face just one of the Dodgers’ top starters as L.A. ramps down for the post­sea­son. And Clay­ton Ker­shaw doesn’t fig­ure to go more than a few in­nings Satur­day.

HOME FIELD ON THE LINE

Even af­ter their 22-game win­ning streak, the Cleve­land In­di­ans haven’t locked up home field yet.

They en­tered Thurs­day with a 11⁄ 2- game lead over the Hous­ton Astros and hold the tiebreaker. The Astros are 11-2 in their last 13 games and are plan­ning to push the In­di­ans to the wire.

HIT MA­CHINE

In an amaz­ing run of con­sis­tency, Hous­ton’s Jose Al­tuve should lead the Amer­i­can League in hits for the fourth con­sec­u­tive sea­son. He would be the only player in base­ball his­tory to lead the league by him­self for that many sea­sons. Ichiro Suzuki led five sea­sons but was tied with Dustin Pe­droia in the third of those five. Al­tuve has 11 more hits than sec­ond place Eric Hos­mer of Kansas City.

ADIOS, AUSMUS

Af­ter four sea­sons and a .490 win­ning per­cent­age, Brad Ausmus won’t have his con­tract with the Detroit Tigers re­newed. The Tigers spent big in the off­sea­son, hop­ing to make a cham­pi­onship run, but af­ter a poor start, they traded off vet­er­ans to re­stock their mi­nor league ros­ters.

CUR­TAINS FOR COLLINS?

It hasn’t been made of­fi­cial, but this could also be the fi­nal week­end for New York Mets man­ager Terry Collins. His con­tract is set to ex­pire, and with the Mets more than 20 games be­low .500, that deal will likely not be re­newed. Collins has the sec­ond-most wins in Mets his­tory be­hind Davey John­son and is first in games man­aged.

60 FOR STAN­TON?

Mi­ami Mar­lins slug­ger Gian­carlo Stan­ton goes into the week­end with 59 home runs and, even though the sin­gle-sea­son record is held by Barry Bonds with 73, the num­bers 60 and 61 still hold a place in ma­jor league his­tory.

If he gets there, he will be the sixth player to do so and the first since 2001. He al­ready has eight homers against the Braves this sea­son.

FIELD DAY

Tigers man­ager Brad Ausmus said ear­lier in the week that un­less “some­thing crazy” hap­pens, and by crazy, the Min­nesota Twins fail to clinch a spot in the wild card, An­drew Romine would play all nine po­si­tions.

Well, the Twins have clinched, so when the Tigers play them Sun­day, Romine should join Bert Cam­paneris, Ce­sar To­var, Scott Shel­don and for­mer Tiger Shane Hal­ter as the only play­ers to pull off this feat.

ISA­IAH J. DOWN­ING, USA TODAY SPORTS

Char­lie Black­mon and the Colorado Rock­ies are try­ing to lock up the fi­nal NL wild-card spot.

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