Playoffs offer a second chance for injury-plagued Stanton

The New York Yankees hit 306 home runs this year with minimal contributions from Giancarlo Stanton.

Now he’s back to try to help the Yankees win a title.

Stanton hit a mammoth home run Friday night at Texas, a reminder that yes, this New York lineup can actually become more powerful than it was for most of the season. Stanton played in only 18 regular-season games this year because of injury problems. He returned in mid-September and hit a couple homers as the Yankees wrapped up their 103-win campaign.

Now it’s on to an American League Division Series against Minnesota that will feature the most prolific home run-hitting teams in baseball history. The Twins edged the Yankees by one, finishing with a record 307.

There is certainly some history between these two teams — and it’s mostly been unpleasant for Minnesota. The Twins have been eliminated by the Yankees in five of Minnesota’s last six postseason appearances.

The other Division Series matchup that’s already set in stone is Atlanta vs. St. Louis.

After eight seasons with the Marlins, Stanton arrived in New York last year and finally made his postseason debut, although it was a fairly short one. The Yankees won the wild card game and then lost to Boston in the ALDS. Stanton had one extra-base hit — a homer — in five postseason games.

He has hit three homers in his injury-plagued 2019, but now October offers a second chance to shine.

Elsewhere around the majors:

HOSTING

The Nationals shrugged off a poor start this year and won 93 games, earning a chance to host the National League wild card game against Milwaukee. Washington won its final eight games of the regular season.

The Nats will try to reverse their trend of postseason disappointments. Washington hosted winner-take-all Game 5s in the Division Series in 2012, 2016 and 2017 and lost all three of those to the Cardinals, Dodgers and Cubs.

Milwaukee had a chance to win the NL Central after winning 18 of 20 games from Sept. 6-26. But the Brewers were swept in their final three-game series at Colorado and settled for the second wild card.

HIGHLIGHT

The Seattle Mariners missed the postseason for an 18th straight year, but their fans did get to participate in an emotional moment this week when they showed their appreciation for longtime ace Félix Hernández.

Hernández had tears in his eyes when he left the mound Thursday in the sixth inning against Oakland. He says he’d like to keep pitching, but he’s unlikely to be back with Seattle, and Mariners fans did a fine job paying tribute.

LINE OF THE WEEK

The night before Hernández’s goodbye, the Mariners hosted Houston, and Astros starter Zack Greinke nearly made a different kind of history.

Greinke came within two outs of pitching the third no-hitter by Houston this year. He lost his chance when Seattle’s Austin Nola singled in the ninth inning. Greinke ended up allowing two hits and a walk in 8 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out nine.

Houston nearly became the first team to throw three no-hitters in a season. Justin Verlander pitched one Sept. 1, and the Astros had a combined no-hitter Aug. 3.

The Mariners were on the losing end of that combined no-hitter, as well as another combined effort by the Los Angeles Angels on July 12. They narrowly avoided becoming the first team to be no-hit three times in a year.

———

Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

———

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js