1. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles. Davis slugged two home runs for the second game in a row -- and sixth time this season -- as the Orioles pounded the Blue Jays 10-2. Davis became the first player to reach 40 home runs in 2015, and his monster second half -- .291/.378/.692 -- will make him one of the more interesting free agents this offseason. On the plus side are this year's 40-homer season and 2013's 53-homer campaign. On the negative side is a poor 2014 in which he hit .196 and received a 25-game suspension for using Adderall, an ADD medication Davis previously had a therapeutic use exemption for but didn't in 2014.
Anyway, even though he'll be 30 come March, teams with a hole at first base will be interested in Davis' services. Besides the Orioles, potential suitors could include:
• Houston Astros: Their first basemen are hitting .197 with a .303 OBP. A young team with a low payroll means the Astros have room in the budget. And you know they love power hitters. Also, Davis is from Longview, Texas, about halfway between Dallas and Houston, near the Louisiana border.
• Tampa Bay Rays: Their first basemen are tied for last with the San Diego Padres in home runs with 11, and are hitting just .236/.296/.342. The club needs power. As always, budget limitations likely will price Davis out of Tampa.
• Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard still has one more year on his contract, but the Phillies could let him go and add Davis to the middle of the order. The money is there now that they've purged Cole Hamels and Chase Utley from the payroll.
2. Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals. Hey, if the Nationals play the Atlanta Braves the rest of the way they have a good chance to catch the San Diego Padres. Taylor's pinch-hit, walk-off three-run homer lifted the Nats to a 5-2 win over the hapless Braves, and when the Mets later lost in 11 innings to the Miami Marlins, the National League East lead dropped to five games. I'd say Mets fans don't have to get nervous until the lead falls to three games. Then ... don't say it ... don't do it ... those horror-inducing memories of 2007 will start creeping ... STOP. LET METS FANS ENJOY THIS LEAD.
Some will say that "clutch" is not a thing. Michael Taylor continues to disagree.— HoldenKushner (@Holdenradio) September 5, 2015
3. J.A. Happ, Pittsburgh Pirates. Staff ace! No, really, he's been the glue holding the rotation together lately. He tossed seven scoreless innings with eight K's, no walks and just three hits as the Pirates beat the Cardinals 9-3. Happ is now 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA as a member of the Pirates, who are now 5½ games behind the Cards. If they can sweep the series, the NL Central suddenly becomes a lot more interesting.
Pirates got J.A. Happ from Seattle for a random minor leaguer, so they could get a pitcher of Felix Hernandez's ilk for some old baseballs.— DJ Gallo (@DJGalloEtc) September 5, 2015
4. Hank Conger, Houston Astros. First the Astros welcomed George Springer back to the lineup, then they went out and blanked the Minnesota Twins 8-0, Conger's fourth-inning grand slam off Mike Pelfrey providing the big blow. Astros catchers, by the way, are third in the majors with 21 home runs.
5. First-inning home runs. The Colorado Rockies hit two of them off Chris Heston -- yes, Carlos Gonzalez hit another one, while Nolan Arenado added the second -- and that was all they needed to beat the Giants 2-1 at Coors Field. That's seven straight losses for the Giants, with three of the past four coming by identical 2-1 scores. Unless the Nationals or Pirates claw a little closer, the National League looks like it will have a pretty uneventful September.