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.
Once seemingly headed for a chaotic finish, the American League wild card picture has become much more clear over the last 48 hours. The results have been very good for the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays, and not at all good for the Cleveland Indians.
After losing 8-0 to the Chicago White Sox, the Indians will enter the weekend on the brink of elimination. Another loss on Friday, coupled with a Rays win, would be enough to end their dreams of making the postseason and ending baseball’s longest World Series championship drought.
The A’s, by virtue of Thursday’s 3-1 win against the Mariners, only need a win or an Indians loss to clinch their spot in the wild-card game. They lead the Rays, who were idle on Thursday, by one game for home-field advantage in the winner-take-all battle scheduled for Oct. 2.
Races to keep an eye on
NL CENTRAL: The Cardinals have a one-game lead in the NL Central over the Brewers. Milwaukee closed the gap with a 5-3 victory in Cincinnati. St. Louis finishes the season at home against the Chicago Cubs, while the Brewers will travel to Denver to face the Rockies.
NL WILD CARD: The Nationals are locked into the wild-card game and have a one-game lead over Milwaukee for home-field advantage thanks to Thursday’s 6-3 win against the Phillies. The Nats will meet either the Cardinals or Brewers, depending on which team doesn’t win the NL Central. The Nationals have three games remaining with the Minnesota Twins.
AL WILD CARD: To summarize what’s noted above. The A’s magic number to clinch is one. The Rays magic number to clinch is two.
HOME FIELD: The Astros lost to the Angels in 12 innings with a chance to clinch home-field advantage both in the American League and overall. Their magic number for that remains one.
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.
ASTROS: The Houston Astros clinched their third straight AL West title on Sept. 22.
TWINS: The Minnesota Twins clinched their first AL Central title since 2010 with a 5-1 win against the Tigers and the Indians 8-3 loss to the White Sox. They will face either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees in the ALDS.
NATIONALS: The Washington Nationals clinched an NL wild-card spot Tuesday by sweeping a doubleheader against the Phillies.
BREWERS: The Milwaukee Brewers locked up a postseason berth with Wednesday’s win against the Cincinnati Reds.
Games to Watch
• Indians at Nationals (7:05 p.m. ET) — A lot at stake in this series. The Indians need a win to stay alive in the AL wild-card race. The Nationals need a win to keep the inside track to host the NL wild-card game.
• Cubs at Cardinals (8:15 p.m. ET) — Cubs manager Joe Maddon says his “A” lineup won’t be on the field much this weekend, and he doesn’t care how the Brewers feel about it. Chicago has lost nine straight, so it might not matter anyway.
• The Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians are battling it out for the AL’s two wild card spots. Two will make it. The other will be the final regular season elimination. With an elimination number of two, it’s not looking good for Cleveland.
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