The next morning, a sharp realization seemed to hit the baseball world all at once: a race for the Triple Crown was now in play. The possibility would get even more interesting after the games on Sept. 23, with Kemp leading the National League in RBIs, tied for first in home runs, and a mere three points shy of sharing the top spot in the batting race.
Although the Dodgers' center fielder would ultimately fall short in his quest to become the first NL Triple Crown winner since Ducky Medwick in 1937, the chase -- arriving so dramatically and actually pulling some of the attention away from the Wild Card races that were nearing their boiling points -- made for a fun footnote to an unforgettable final week.
Now, it appears Miguel Cabrera will be in a position to see if he can do just a little bit better than Kemp.
In the Tigers' 12-2 win over the Athletics on Tuesday, Cabrera went 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs and six RBIs. Cabrera is leading the American League in batting average (.333) and RBIs (129), and he is tied for second in home runs (40).
Cabrera has a six-point lead over Mike Trout for the batting title, leads Josh Hamilton by six RBIs and trails Hamilton in the race for the home run crown, 42 to 40. No player has won the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and the only Tigers player to claim the honor was Ty Cobb in '09.
In 16 games in September, Cabrera has hit seven home runs (tied for second most in Majors), driven in 20 runs (most in Majors) and is batting .373 (sixth in the Majors for players with a minimum of 50 plate appearances).
Cabrera's 40-homer season is the 10th in Tigers history. Hank Greenberg had four of the 10 (1937, '38, '40, '46), while Cecil Fielder had a pair of them ('90, '91). Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito each hit 40 in '61, and Darrell Evans reached the mark in '85. Of the nine previous 40-homer seasons, only Greenberg in '37 and '40 and Cash in '61 also finished the year hitting at least .330.
Detroit's Prince Fielder hit his 27th home run Thursday -- a two-run shot that pushed his RBI total to 100. It is the 26th time in Tigers history multiple teammates drove in at least 100. This marks the third pairing for Cabrera in his time with the Tigers. He shared 100-RBI honors with Magglio Ordonez in 2008, and with Victor Martinez last season.
Playing their longest game of the season, the Orioles defeated the Mariners, 4-2, in 18 innings Tuesday. The win moved Baltimore back into a tie for first with the Yankees in the AL East. Baltimore has 14 games remaining, while the Yankees have 16.
The Orioles improved to 14-2 in extra-inning games, and extended their franchise-record winning streak in extra-inning affairs to 14.
Seven Orioles relievers combined for 12 2/3 innings of six-hit, no-run ball. Baltimore's 3.05 bullpen ERA is the fourth best in the AL, and the relief corps ranks third in the league with 504 1/3 innings pitched.
The Orioles' No. 4-5-6 hitters (Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds) each went 0-for-7. Baltimore was the first AL team in the live-ball era to win a game in which it had three players finish hitless with at least seven at-bats.
The 18-inning game was the longest for the Orioles since they lost to the Athletics in 18 innings on Aug. 24, 1969.
Yovani Gallardo allowed two hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings and improved to 16-8 as the Brewers blanked the Pirates, 6-0. Gallardo has won eight consecutive decisions, a streak that began on July 31.
Gallardo's streak is the longest for a Brewers pitcher since 2008, when CC Sabathia captured nine straight decisions and Manny Parra was the winning pitcher in eight consecutive decisions.
During Gallardo's streak, he has made 10 starts, thrown 67 innings, allowed 52 hits and 20 runs (all earned for a 2.69 ERA), and he has fanned 66 while walking 24.
The Brewers stole seven bases in their win over the Pirates, the most for the club since Aug. 29, 1992, when Milwaukee collected eight steals against the Blue Jays. It was the eighth time this season a club had recorded at least four steals against the Pirates, with those eight the most in the Majors. Before this game, the last time Pittsburgh had allowed at least seven stolen bases was on May 23, 1990.
The Angels defeated the Rangers, 11-3, with Jered Weaver (seven innings, three runs) improving to 18-4 on the season.
The win was the 100th of Weaver's career and came in his 204th game. He is one of 25 pitchers since 1918 to reach 100 victories that quickly. With 100 through his first 204, Weaver is tied with Jim Palmer and Ron Guidry. Juan Marichal tops the list, with 116 wins through 204 games.
Weaver is the sixth pitcher in Angels history to win at least 100 games, joining Chuck Finley (165), Nolan Ryan (138), Mike Witt (109), Frank Tanana (102) and John Lackey (102).
Homer Bailey became the fourth Reds starter to reach 12 wins, allowing one run in 7 1/3 innings in a 3-1 victory over the Cubs.
Before this year, the most recent time the Reds had four starters (with at least 75 percent of their appearances coming as starts) win at least 12 was in 1975, when Jack Billingham, Don Gullett, Gary Nolan and Fred Norman all reached that mark. This year, Bailey joins Johnny Cueto (17 wins), Mat Latos (12) and Bronson Arroyo (12).
In Kansas City, the White Sox won their fifth straight game, beating the Royals, 3-2.
With the victory, Chicago maintained its three-game lead over Detroit for first place in the AL Central. The win also gave the White Sox victories against three opponents in three cities in three days. On Sunday, they defeated the Twins in Minnesota and then beat the Tigers in Chicago on Monday.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.