It’s September, so the baseball games matter a little more. That’s why every day between now and the start of the postseason we’ll keep you updated on baseball’s postseason picture.
On a night when champagne corks were popping in Atlanta and wild card contenders continued racking up victories, the mood was very different in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field.
It was there the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox saw their quest to repeat reach its premature conclusion.
The Indians’ 5-2 win against the Phillies was the result that officially eliminated Boston from playoff contention. The Red Sox own 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Rays was just an extra nail in the coffin.
The Red Sox haven’t been a complete disaster. At 80-73, they’ll likely finish with a winning record. But the expectations are understandably higher for one of MLB’s cornerstone franchises.
Boston has won four World Series championships (2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018) over the last 15 seasons after going 86 seasons without one. Of those four championship teams, none have gone on to win a playoff series the following season. In fact, the last two didn’t qualify for the postseason at all.
As a result of this season’s disappointment, big changes are coming this winter. The Red Sox already fired team president Dave Dombrowski. A complete overhaul of the front office now seems inevitable. A season that started with such joy will end with doom, gloom and countless questions for the teams new leaders to answer.
Baseball. It’s a relentless pursuit with unforgiving consequences.
That’s rough side of the business. On the bright side, there’s still plenty of potential for drama and excitement over the final nine days. Here’s a look at the full postseason picture heading into Saturday.
Magic Number Countdown
ASTROS: Houston lowered its magic number to clinch the AL West to one after defeating the Angels, 6-4. Saturday could be the day.
TWINS: The Twins beat the Royals 4-3 at Target Field. Their magic number to clinch the AL Central is down to five.
CARDINALS: The Cardinals were 2-1 winners against the Cubs, which lowered their magic number to clinch the NL Central to six.
DODGERS: The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh straight NL West title on Sept. 10.
YANKEES: The New York Yankees clinched their first AL East title since 2012 on Sept. 19.
BRAVES: The Atlanta Braves clinched their second straight NL East title on Sept. 20.
PLAYOFF BOUND: The Astros are the only other team to have clinched a postseason berth.
AL WILD CARD: The A’s, Rays and Indians all won again. The A’s have a two-game lead for the top AL wild card. The Rays and Indians are tied for the second spot.
AL CENTRAL: The Twins and Indians both won again. Minnesota’s division lead is four games with eight games left to play.
NL CENTRAL: It’s still a three-team race, but it’s the Brewers who now pose the biggest threat to the Cardinals. The Brewers beat the Pirates 10-1 to remain three games back, while the Cubs fell to five games back with a loss to St. Louis.
NL WILD CARD: The Nationals maintain a one-game lead over the Brewers for the NL’s top wild card. The Brewers are two games ahead of the Cubs for the second wild card. The Mets still have some hope at 3.5 games back, but the Phillies and Diamondbacks are extreme long shots at five games back.
Games to Watch
• St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (2:20 p.m. ET) — The Cubs’ playoff hopes are fading away quickly after suffering their fourth straight loss. It will be must-win time on Saturday, and perhaps for the remainder of the season.
• Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros (8:10 p.m. ET) — The Astros are back to full strength after Carlos Correa’s big return Friday. They just need a win or an A’s loss to clinch the AL West on Saturday.
• In addition to the Red Sox, the San Francisco Giants were also officially eliminated. Those franchises have combined for five World Series titles since 2010.
• Teams whose postseason dreams are already over: Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres.
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