Wild & AZ! D-backs soak up top WC clinch

Arizona will host National League Wild Card Game at Chase Field on Oct. 4

Wild & AZ! D-backs soak up top WC clinch

PHOENIX -- The 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks celebrated their National League Wild Card berth with the traditional champagne shower in the clubhouse, and then they all went and jumped into the pool just beyond the wall in right-center at Chase Field.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats clinch NLDS home-field, seek Thrones

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Nats clinch NLDS home-field, seek Thrones

 There have been many themed road trips this summer -- from Anchorman to, um, rompers? But after their 3-2 victory over the Mets on Sunday, the Nationals honored an iconic show that has played a major role across MLB ballparks all season long: "Game of Thrones."

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Q quiets Crew; Cubs cut Central number to 2

Q quiets Crew; Cubs cut Central number to 2

MILWAUKEE -- There was no late drama this time. Jose Quintana and the Cubs made sure of that.

After a trio of 10-inning thrillers to begin this four-game showdown of National League Central contenders, Quintana surpassed 200 strikeouts on the way to his second career shutout, and Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo delivered late two-run hits for a 5-0 win over the Brewers in Sunday's finale at steamy Miller Park.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Grandal backs Kershaw in Dodgers' 99th win

Grandal backs Kershaw in Dodgers' 99th win

LOS ANGELES -- Yasmani Grandal's sacrifice fly and two-run homer paced the Dodgers to a 3-1 win over the Giants on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers are 99-57, their most wins since the club went 102-60 in 1974, and still hold a one-game lead over the Indians for the best record in baseball and a 4 1/2-game lead over the Nationals for home-field advantage in the National League playoffs. Ace Clayton Kershaw made his fifth start since coming off the disabled list, allowing Mac Williamson's homer over eight innings while striking out six.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Judge hits 47th, 48th HRs, 1 shy of rookie mark

Judge hits 47th, 48th HRs, 1 shy of rookie mark

TORONTO -- Aaron Judge homered twice in Sunday afternoon's 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, notching his American League-leading 47th and 48th home runs to close within one blast of Mark McGwire's 1987 record for the most home runs hit by a Major League rookie.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mookie's moxie flips finale in Red Sox's favor

Outfielder's three-run double, heads-up baserunning key Boston's 6th straight win

Mookie's moxie flips finale in Red Sox's favor

CINCINNATI -- The Red Sox won without their most dynamic player on Saturday. But it's a good thing Mookie Betts returned from his left foot contusion on Sunday, because there's no chance the Red Sox would have pulled out a series-sweeping 5-4 victory over the Reds and trimmed their AL East magic number to three without the All-Star right fielder.

What did Betts do to make this comeback win from a 4-1 deficit possible? Well, just about everything.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tribe stays in control behind Ramirez, Kluber

Tribe stays in control behind Ramirez, Kluber

SEATTLE -- Jose Ramirez slugged a home run to right-center field to lead off the sixth inning and Corey Kluber struck out 10 over seven innings, his 15th double-digit strikeout game of the season, becoming the American League's first 18-game winner as the Indians edged the Mariners, 4-2, at Safeco Field on Sunday.

While Seattle was eliminated from postseason contention, Cleveland remains in the driver's seat for the AL's best record, leading Houston by two and a half games after the Astros' 7-5 loss to the Angels on Sunday night. The Indians still trail the Dodgers by one game for the best mark in the Majors, as Los Angeles also won on Sunday.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Players, managers react to Maxwell's protest

Players, managers react to Maxwell's protest

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the national anthem on Saturday and Sunday, kneeling with his hand over his heart while facing the American flag prior to Oakland's games against the Rangers.

Maxwell's decision to kneel came after President Donald Trump -- speaking on Friday in Huntsville, Ala., where Maxwell grew up -- made reference to NFL players not standing for the anthem as employees who, as he put it, should be fired by their teams. Maxwell, an African-American raised in a military family, joins Colin Kaepernick and other athletes in attempting to raise awareness about brutality and injustice at the hands of authorities by kneeling during the anthem.

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Bullpen of the Week: Red Sox

Bullpen of the Week: Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are gearing up for the postseason, having just clinched a spot to play in October. Now they're trying to wrap up the American League East division title. Their brilliant last seven days, in which they went 6-0, put them in good position, and their relief pitching played a big part in their week of excellence.

Boston won all three games in Baltimore, then traveled to Cincinnati and took all three games there. The work by their relievers in those games was enough to earn the Red Sox the honor of "Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford."

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Road to the Postseason: Sept. 25

D-backs to host NL Wild Card; Nats clinch home-field in DS

Road to the Postseason: Sept. 25

More pieces to the postseason puzzle fell into place on an eventful Sunday in the Major Leagues, but the top headline belonged to the D-backs, who clinched the National League Wild Card berth that seemed a foregone conclusion for much of this month in their breakout season.

On Sunday, the D-backs actually clinched the Wild Card spot during their game against the Marlins because the Cardinals had lost to the Pirates and the Brewers had lost to the Cubs. But they made the day dramatic anyway, with J.D. Martinez's walk-off single with two outs in the ninth inning powering Arizona to a 3-2 win over the Marlins. The D-backs have made the postseason for the first time since 2011, and they are fired up about it, especially given that they'll host the game at Chase Field on Oct. 4.

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Week Ahead: Checklist for final seven days

Week Ahead: Checklist for final seven days

Welcome to the final week of the regular season, when there's unfinished business here, there and everywhere. Divisions are there to be won, Wild Card berths to be grabbed and home-field advantages to be gained.

Things can happen quickly now. Resilience will be tested. Hopes could rise and fall an inning at a time.

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Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Explaining possible postseason tiebreakers

With mere days remaining in the Major League season, the battles for two division championships, two Wild Card spots and home-field advantage are still ongoing. And because even the 162-game schedule has proven unable to settle scores at various points in the game's long history, it's important to understand what would happen in the event of a tie.

So far, we've gotten through five seasons of October expansion and only required one tiebreaker game -- the 2013 tilt between the Rays and Rangers to decide the second AL Wild Card slot. But plenty of tiebreaker possibilities exist here in the home stretch of '17, and the goal here is to lay out the most realistic ones remaining and how they would be settled.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies beat Padres, pad lead for 2nd WC

Rockies beat Padres, pad lead for 2nd WC

SAN DIEGO -- Pat Valaika delivered a pinch-hit RBI double in the sixth inning, then blasted a solo homer to improve the Rockies' playoff hopes with an 8-4 victory over the Padres at Petco Park on Sunday.

Valaika's bloop double off Kyle McGrath, which barely eluded Padres center fielder Manuel Margot with two on and two out in the sixth, gave the Rockies a 5-2 lead. The Padres made it a one-run game with Christian Villanueva's two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Halos' bats arise to snap slide, lift WC hopes

Halos' bats arise to snap slide, lift WC hopes

HOUSTON -- Luis Valbuena burned his former team by hitting a two-run, bases-loaded double in the seventh inning off reliever Chris Devenski to break a tie and send the Angels to a 7-5 win over the Astros in the regular-season finale at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night.

The Angels, who snapped a six-game losing streak by sending the Astros to their third loss in their last 12 games, are 4 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot. Houston fell 2 1/2 games behind the Indians for the best record in the AL.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Angels on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

After clinching an NL Wild Card berth, the D-backs threw a wild Chase Field pool party

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After clinching an NL Wild Card berth, the D-backs threw a wild Chase Field pool party

 When clinching a postseason spot or division crown, most teams celebrate in a similar fashion: Jumping up and down, yelling and spraying champagne all over the clubhouse.

The D-backs, who clinched a National League Wild Card berth on Sunday, began the festivities like so after the game (Get your Arizona October gear here). But then, somebody remembered that Chase Field has something no other stadium has: A pool. It was time to have a pool party.

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McGwire's record on docket for Judge on MLB.TV

Cubs close in on NL Central title, while Rox seek to keep grip on WC spot

McGwire's record on docket for Judge on MLB.TV

A rookie record that has stood for 30 years is on the line every time Aaron Judge steps to the plate. As the final week of Major League Baseball's regular season gets underway, one question will be asked every time Judge's name is announced: Can the Yankees' rookie catch Mark McGwire?

McGwire set a rookie record with 49 home runs in 1987. On Sunday, Judge hit home runs number 47 and 48, putting him in the driver's seat to at least tie the record. Judge's next chance comes Monday at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees play a makeup game against the Royals at 1:05 pm.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Finals week: Wild tests facing NL Central

Cubs close to clinching; Brewers, Cardinals in pursuit

Finals week: Wild tests facing NL Central

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs will have champagne on ice this week in St. Louis, ready to celebrate a second straight National League Central title. The Brewers and Cardinals have the NL Wild Card in their sights. And the Reds have a chance to play spoiler along the way.

There was still much to play for in the Central as the regular season rounded its final Sunday. Amid a Midwest heat wave, baseball fans in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis entered the final week longing for the crisp air of October.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Nats will activate Harper on Monday

Star outfielder has been out since Aug. 12 with left knee injury

Source: Nats will activate Harper on Monday

NEW YORK -- Bryce Harper will be activated for Monday night's game in Philadelphia, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Sunday, returning to action for the first time since sustaining a left knee injury on Aug. 12.

The club has not confirmed the news, which was first reported by the Washington Post. Nationals manager Dusty Baker would only say following Sunday's 3-2 win in New York that the team is "making up our minds" and would announce its decision on Monday.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rangers fall in finale, now 5 1/2 back in AL WC

Rangers fall in finale, now 5 1/2 back in AL WC

OAKLAND -- The A's pushed the Rangers to the brink of elimination by completing a three-game sweep with a 8-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum. The Athletics have won seven straight and 14 of their last 17 games.

"We followed up what was a good series and good road trip for us with a good homestand, where we've been playing well," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We want to finish out strong. We continue to play good, pitch well, swing the bats, everything."

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fans, Blue Jays tip caps to Joey Bats

In veteran's possible final home game at Rogers Centre, Toronto salutes franchise icon

Fans, Blue Jays tip caps to Joey Bats

TORONTO -- Jose Bautista brought swagger and confidence to the Blue Jays. He's responsible for one of the most iconic moments in franchise history, and he'll go down as one of the best athletes the city has ever seen. On Sunday afternoon, it was time for Blue Jays fans to say thank you for all of that and so much more.

Toronto dubbed this series against New York "Fan Appreciation Weekend," but it might as well have been renamed in Bautista's honor, because that was the focus during Sunday's 9-5 victory. The standing ovations were loud, they were long and they were frequent as teammates and fans alike celebrated one of Toronto's all-time greats.
 

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Magic number at 3 as Sox win 6th straight

Magic number at 3 as Sox win 6th straight

CINCINNATI -- A road trip defined by thrilling comebacks included one more for the rolling Red Sox, who came roaring back with four runs in the eighth to pull out a 5-4 victory over the Reds on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

It was a fitting way for manager John Farrell's team to complete an 8-1 road trip and the 14th win in its past 17 games. Now the Red Sox head back to Fenway Park with the American League East title within their sights. The magic number is down to three, as the Red Sox extended their AL East lead to five games with the Yankees' loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, and Boston can clinch the division as early as Tuesday.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins sweep Tigers, inch closer to WC berth

Twins sweep Tigers, inch closer to WC berth

DETROIT -- The Twins took care of business yet again versus the Tigers, reaching double digits in scoring for the third time in four games with a 10-4 rout to complete a critical four-game sweep on Sunday at Comerica Park. Minnesota outscored the Tigers, 39-12, en route to its first four-game sweep in Detroit since Sept. 10-13, 2004.

With the victory, the Twins maintained their 4 1/2-game lead over the Angels, who won Sunday night, while pushing the Royals and Rangers 5 1/2 back. Minnesota has six games remaining, and the magic number to clinch its first postseason berth since 2010 is three. The loss was Detroit's seventh in a row.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Andrelton Simmons used a great deke and some great throws to fool the Astros out of an inning

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Andrelton Simmons used a great deke and some great throws to fool the Astros out of an inning

 You simply can't look away from Andrelton Simmons when he's on the field. Diving plays, bobbled catches and even the way he positions himself deserves careful study. He showed off some more of his skills during Sunday's 7-5 victory against the Astros. 

In the bottom of the first inning, Carlos Correa hit a ball to right field that allowed Jose Altuve to move up to third base. As the throw came in, Simmons casually leaned back as if he was going to let the throw go to third. That momentary hesitation made Correa think he could take off for second. 

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Despite plenty of training and a special outfit, Paul Byrd lost his race against The Freeze

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Despite plenty of training and a special outfit, Paul Byrd lost his race against The Freeze

 Paul Byrd -- the former big leaguer with the windmilling arms -- tried his best. He trained hard, even chasing chickens and carrying heavy wooden boards. He dressed for success -- donning red, white and blue shorts, woodshop goggles and an '80s action hero-esque blonde wig. But in the end, the 46-year-old's legs just weren't enough. 

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Kershaw looks strong as postseason nears

Kershaw looks strong as postseason nears

LOS ANGELES -- With the National League West championship sealed, the next step on the Dodgers' checklist going into the postseason is not to hit another slump.

Manager Dave Roberts has stressed the importance of his club ending the season on a winning note to carry it over to the postseason. Part of that momentum is getting Clayton Kershaw back on track, and the Dodgers' ace made his fifth start since coming off the disabled list in the Dodgers' 3-1 win over the Giants on Sunday.

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Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

Female ump Pawol honored to donate gear to HOF

Baseball veteran gives mask, cap to 'Diamond Dreams' exhibit

Female ump Pawol honored to donate gear to HOF

Jen Pawol is going to have to get a new umpire's mask.

Not because the one she's used since she began calling games professionally 11 years ago is worn out. Because she donated it to the Hall of Fame on Saturday. It will soon be displayed as part of the popular Diamond Dreams exhibit that celebrates women in baseball.

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Paul Hagen, a reporter for MLB.com, won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in 2013 for a lifetime of excellence in baseball writing. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Max bests Mets; Nats clinch NLDS home-field

Max bests Mets; Nats clinch NLDS home-field

NEW YORK -- The Nationals and Mets matched up for the final time this season Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, so it was fitting for one final matchup between their respective aces, Max Scherzer from Washington and Jacob deGrom of New York.

Scherzer outdueled deGrom to lead the Nationals to a 3-2 victory, which secured home-field advantage for Washington in the National League Division Series. The Nats will almost certainly have Bryce Harper back for that NLDS, and manager Dusty Baker said Harper could be activated as early as Monday night's game against the Phillies, although the Nationals were still trying to "make up their mind."

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

D-backs walk off, will host NL Wild Card Game

D-backs walk off, will host NL Wild Card Game

PHOENIX -- The fans at Chase Field got to celebrate twice Sunday as the D-backs clinched a Wild Card berth during the game and then secured home-field advantage in the National League Wild Card Game with a 3-2 walk-off win over the Marlins.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happy feat: Hamilton picks up pace after pickoff

Errant Boston throw leads to run scored for Cincinnati

Happy feat: Hamilton picks up pace after pickoff

CINCINNATI -- The Red Sox don't see Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton very often. On Sunday, Boston learned something most National League teams have long understood.

Always have a plan for when Hamilton is on the bases, and don't assume he's done running. In a 5-4 Reds loss, Hamilton turned a pickoff play into a rundown that led to him scoring from first base after a defensive breakdown.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Before they were postseason bound: D-backs

Before they were postseason bound: D-backs

The D-backs are back in the postseason for the first time since 2011 and sixth time overall. A national audience awaits National League MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and superstar J.D. Martinez, who will lead a loaded lineup into the NL Wild Card Game at Chase Field and potentially beyond.

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