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.
Is there a more overlooked contender than the Atlanta Braves?
While the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Houston Astros continue garnering the headlines, the Braves have just as effectively taken control of their division.
That continued Friday as Atlanta extended its lead in the NL East to a likely insurmountable nine games with a 4-3 victory over the second-place Washington Nationals.
In fact, there’s a far greater chance the Braves will catch the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros for MLB’s best record than lose the division. Overall, Atlanta has won eight in a row to give them 88 wins this season. That’s just four less than than the aforementioned division leaders. And we still have three weeks left.
As the Braves move closer to a celebration and possible home-field advantage, here’s a look at what the MLB postseason picture looks like heading into Saturday.
Magic Number Countdown
DODGERS: Despite three home runs from A.J. Pollock, the Dodgers lost to the Giants, 5-4. Their magic number to clinch the NL West is still four.
NEXT UP: The New York Yankees lost 6-1 to the Boston Red Sox. That keeps their magic number to clinch the AL East at 12. The Houston Astros’ AL West magic number is also 12. The Braves’ magic number to clinch the NL East is 13.
THE REST: The Twins’ magic number to clinch the AL Central is still 16 after losing to the Indians, 6-2 in 11 innings. The Cardinals lost, too, but saw their magic number to clinch the NL Central drop to 20.
AL WILD CARD: The Rays shut out the Blue Jays, 5-0, which keeps them alone atop the wild card standings with a one-game lead. The Indians’ victory moves them to one-half game behind the Oakland Athletics for the second spot. Oakland lost its regularly scheduled game Friday, but defeated the Detroit Tigers in a game that was suspended on May 19.
NL CENTRAL: The Brewers showed signs of life, topping the Cubs 7-1 at Miller Park. That pulls Milwaukee to 6.5 games behind the Cardinals, who were 9-4 losers in Pittsburgh. The Cubs remain 2.5 games back.
NL WILD CARD: Despite another loss in Atlanta, the Nationals are still two games up on the Cubs for the top NL wild card. The Cubs hold a 2.5-game edge over the Diamondbacks for the second wild card. The Brewers, Mets and Phillies are all four games back.
Games to Watch
• Phillies at Mets (7:10 p.m. ET) — It's getting to be last-gasp time for the Phillies and Mets in the NL wild card race. The Mets won Friday's series opener, 5-4, on Pete Alonso’s walk-off walk. That gives the rivals an identical 72-68 record. If they split the remaining two games in this weekend series, that might be enough to effectively knock both teams from the running.
• Giants at Dodgers (9:10 p.m. ET) — The Giants can’t necessarily play spoiler this weekend. However, they can do their part in delaying the Dodgers’ celebration until after they leave town on Sunday. A win on Saturday would do just that.
• There were no eliminations again on Friday. The Chicago White Sox (two), Colorado Rockies (five), Los Angeles Angels (five), Texas Rangers (eight) and Pittsburgh Pirates (eight) are the teams with single-digit elimination numbers.
• Teams whose postseason dreams are already over include: Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins.
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