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Few starters in baseball have needed as little cushion this year as St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas. Monday night’s 11-6 victory in Atlanta upped his record to 16-0 when receiving two or more runs of support. Mikolas gets the call Sunday when St. Louis tries to bolster its National League wild-card playoff hopes with a series sweep of the San Francisco Giants in Busch Stadium.St. Louis leads Colorado by 1 1/2 games for the final wild-card spot. The Cardinals also edged within two games of Milwaukee for the first wild-card and are 4 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the NL Central lead.Article continues below ...Mikolas (16-4 Eric Sogard Jersey, 3.01 ERA) has been perhaps the best value signing of the offseason. Skepticism abounded when the Cardinals (86-69) inked him to a two-year, $15.5 million deal after three successful seasons in Japan. After all, Mikolas looked like bottom of the staff material while posting a 6.44 ERA in10 starts in 2014 with Texas.But Mikolas has surprised the skeptics, averaging just over six innings a start and making every turn in the rotation. He has fewer walks (29) than starts (30) and could lead the NL in wins if he winds up on the upside of his last two starts.“I’ve been fortunate than when I pitch, we have great offense and we’ve put up runs and we play great defense and everything has come together,” Mikolas said to mlb.com after his victory in Atlanta. “It’s been a great season for me.”Mikolas will make his fifth career appearance against San Francisco, although it will be his first as a starter. He has no record and a 1.69 ERA in 5 1/3 innings.St. Louis pulled out a dramatic 5-4, 10-inning victory Saturday over San Francisco to move one step closer to its first playoff spot since 2015. Yadier Molina’s two-run homer in the seventh inning erased a 4-2 deficit and Tyler O’Neill’s tape-measure blast with two outs in the 10th supplied the Cardinals their 11th walk-off win of the year.San Francisco (72-83) has nothing left on its plate beside contractual obligation and statistical incentives. The Giants have battled the Cardinals hard in the series’ first two games, but their bullpen has let them down, as has often been the case this year.Rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez (7-11, 4.24 ERA) takes the ball for San Francisco, looking to build on two straight quality starts. Suarez picked up a 4-2 win on Monday night in San Diego, working 7 2/3 innings and allowing two runs and four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. This will be his first career outing against the Cardinals.St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong Keon Broxton Jersey, who left Friday night’s game after seven innings after he suffered cramps in both hamstrings, could be available for Sunday’s game. MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As Joe Mauer drove to the ballpark for a doubleheader to begin the last series of the season for the Minnesota Twins, the finality of the weekend dawned on him a little deeper than usual.These games against the Chicago White Sox aren’t necessarily going to be the last of Mauer’s 15-year career, but there’s no guarantee they won’t be, either. Mauer will wait until the offseason, in consultation with his family, to decide whether or not to retire at age 35. The three-time American League batting champion and six-time All-Star will be a free agent, his eight-year $184 million contract set to expire, but he has no interest in playing outside of his home state.“The end of the season sneaks up on you. Here we are, the last weekend,” Mauer said before the Twins swept the doubleheader from the White Sox on Friday. “Just trying to enjoy it.”By going 2 for 4 in each of the two games, Mauer stretched his on-base streak to 14 straight starts. He’s batting .362 (21 for 58) during that stretch. After a single in the sixth inning of the second game, Mauer was pulled for a pinch-runner and received a standing ovation as he waved and tipped his helmet to the crowd.Mauer’s 35-year-old production is modest at best http://www.brewersfanproshop.com/authentic-zach-davies-jersey, compared to his pre-2013-concussion numbers as a catcher, let alone his 2009 AL MVP season. He has only six home runs and 33 extra-base hits.Still, he’s batting .280, which is 32 points above the major league average, and in the top 25 in the AL in on-base percentage. With runners in scoring position, he’s hitting an MLB-best .410 in 78 at-bats. Earlier this week, he became the Twins leader in times on base, passing Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew.“The professionalism, the performance, the things he’s done here in his hometown community for a number of years. It’s just been the full package,” said manager Paul Molitor, who’s doing some savoring of his own this weekend in the event Mauer doesn’t return.The Twins (76-84), who made the AL wild card game at 85-77 in 2017 Brent Suter Jersey, will wrap up a sixth losing record in the last eight years on Sunday afternoon.“It’s going to be fun to watch him play,” Molitor said. “I’m hoping there’s a little sense of acknowledgement each and every time he steps on that field.”Mauer’s laid-back nature has never naturally lent itself to clubhouse leadership, but in the last few seasons he has come into his own as the most experienced player on the roster ought to. He initiated a postgame contest after victories, when a game ball is awarded to a player whose performance made the most impact.“I just wanted to show them the importance of the little things that contribute to a win,” Mauer said. “It might not be getting four hits that day. It might be going first to third with less than two outs and you end up scoring that run.”Though teammates Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar chipped in with occasional choices at Mauer’s request before they were traded to other teams this summer, the game-ball committee has largely been a one-man production. Perhaps that’s fitting, given how deep his contributions to the franchise have fun since the first overall pick in the 2001 draft made his debut in 2004.“Some guys if they don’t get mentioned might take exception to that, and the next day they might try to really do something to get mentioned,” Mauer said. “But it’s a fun thing that we’ve been doing, and it seems like the boys have a good time doing it too.”



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