September is upon us, which means every race in Major League Baseball is headed for the home stretch. Every game matters more than ever to the teams competing for a postseason spot. That’s why every night between now and the end of the regular season we’ll bring you an updated look at the MLB postseason picture.
The drama was real Saturday night in Hollywood.
The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t quite lived up to the hype this season, but they’ve rallied when they’ve had to. That theme continued here as LA rallied in exhilarating fashion, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on Matt Kemp’s eighth-inning three-run home run.
Starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Patrick Corbin engaged in quite a duel at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers ace allowed two runs over seven innings, while Los Angeles failed to score on Corbin in his five innings. They instead attacked Arizona’s bullpen, scoring all three runs against the usually reliable Archie Bradley.
A rejuvenated Kenley Jansen closed out the win with a scoreless ninth inning for Los Angeles.
This is only day one in September and it already looks like the NL West will be a barnburner. Arizona and Los Angeles will meet four more times this season, including Sunday. Arizona also has seven left with Colorado. The Dodgers play the Rockies six times.
OTHER KEY MLB RACES
• AL East: The Boston Red Sox hit a rare rough patch earlier this week, losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Rays. That opened the door for the New York Yankees to gain ground. Boston’s back on track now though and holding strong with Major League Baseball’s best record. They topped the White Sox Saturday night 6-1 to maintain a 7 1/2 game lead over the Yankees.
• AL West: It’s a two-team race with the heavily favored Astros trying their best to hold off the upstart Athletics. Houston did its part Saturday, snapping a brief two-game losing streak with a 7-3 win against the Los Angeles Angels. Coupled with an Oakland loss, Houston’s division lead is up to 2 1/2 games.
• NL East: The Atlanta Braves opened up some breathing room. Trailing into the eighth inning, Atlanta rallied for four runs to top the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 at SunTrust Park. Freddie Freeman appropriately delivered the tiebreaker, sending an opposite field double to score Ender Inciarte. With the Phillies losing, Atlanta’s division lead grew to three games.
• NL Central: It’s starting to look like the Cubs division to lose, just like we figured it would be. Chicago topped the Phillies 7-1 behind three hits from MVP candidate Javier Baez. The Cardinals fell to 4 1/2 back with a 4-0 loss to the Reds, while Milwaukee moved to five back after losing in Washington.
• AL Wild Card: The Yankees have been threatening to run away and hide. New York holds a 5 1/2 game lead over Oakland thanks to their win, while the A’s are 4 1/2 up on Seattle for the second spot even after their loss.
• NL Wild Card: The NL is much tighter with St. Louis, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Arizona, Colorado and Philadelphia all within 3 1/2 games.
MAGIC NUMBER WATCH
• Cleveland Indians: One day after acquiring former AL MVP Josh Donaldson from Toronto, the Indians fell 5-3 to the Rays. Still, they knocked their Magic Number down to 14 thanks to Minnesota’s 7-4 loss in Texas. Cleveland is still, by far, the closest team to clinching their division.
It’s the end of the line for the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers in the Wild Card race after their losses. But they’re still holding on in their respective divisions. The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals are the first two teams on the outside looking in. Better luck next season — or more likely in 2021 — guys.
SUNDAY’S MUST-SEE GAME
The Angels may have fallen out of the race, but they’ll have a chance to play spoiler again against the Astros on Sunday Night Baseball. Adding further intrigue to this matchup is the pitching return of Shohei Ohtani. The two-way star hasn’t pitched in a game since June 6 after being diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his pitching elbow.
Ohtani struggled a bit in his lone start against Houston on April 24. He allowed a season-high four earned runs over 5 1/3 innings. Overall, Ohtani has posted a strong 3.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings.
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