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MLB Playoff Picture Update 9/23: The Braves clinch the division

And the Cardinals pick up ground.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

American League East

The Red Sox have clinched the American League East.

American League Central

The Indians have clinched the American League Central.

American League West

Red Sox fans were keeping an eye on the Astros-Angels game on Saturday since an Angels loss would have locked up home field for Boston regardless of what happened to the Red Sox in Cleveland. For a time, it looked good when Mike Trout helped lead an Angels rally to give them a late lead. Then, old friend Ty Buttrey helped open the floodgates and Houston exploded for nine runs in the eighth to win 10-5. Meanwhile, Oakland was able to keep pace thanks to more late-game magic against the Twins. The A’s scored in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch with the bases loaded, and that was enough for the win. So, their deficit in the AL West is still 3.5 games, and Houston’s magic number is down to five.

American League Wildcard

The A’s got their win, and earlier in the day they were keeping an eye on the Yankees game as they continue to fight for home field in a potential Wildcard Game. They didn’t get the news they were looking for. New York was struggling to score all night, and the game was pushed into extras, but Aaron Hicks came through with a walk-off hit in the eleventh and the Yankees won. New York leads by 1.5 games, and they have eight games remaining while Oakland has seven.

Current AL Playoff Picture

E: Red Sox* (1)

C: Indians* (3)

W: Astros (2)

WC1: Yankees (4)

WC2: Athletics (5)

National League East

It was a big day in the National League East, as the Braves just needed to win their third straight over the Phillies to officially wrap up that division. The writing had been on the wall for some time here, but as we know it’s always fun to actually wrap it up. The Braves did just that, jumping out to an early lead at home and then watching their pitching hold on for a two-run lead. This is Atlanta’s first division title since 2013.

National League Central

The Cubs have been struggling to run away with this NL Central race, though they finally took a step in that direction on Saturday. They got a big game from MVP candidate Javy Baez en route to a relatively easy five-run victory against the cross-town rival White Sox. Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the typical relentless Brewers offense was nowhere to be found. Trevor Williams was totally dominant for the Pirates, and that was enough for a 3-0 victory. That extended the Cubs lead to 2.5 games. Meanwhile, the Cardinals got a walk-off homer from Tyler O’Neill to stay within 4.5 in the division. Chicago’s magic number is six.

National League West

The Dodgers have gotten hot at the right time, and things are not slowing down just yet. Manny Machado led the way with some early offense, Los Angeles got five runs in the third against the Padres and they cruised to an easy five-run victory. To their credit, the Rockies continued to keep pace in this race, using a strong start from Anthony Senzatela for a four-run win. The Dodgers now lead the Rockies by 1.5 games with a magic number of seven.

National League Wildcard

The Brewers losing ground in this race has been rare, but that’s what happened here as their advantage over the Cardinals for home field has been dropped down to just two games. Meanwhile, this is now a three-teams-for-two-spots race, with the Rockies competing with the Cardinals for that final playoff slot. They trail St. Louis by 1.5 games. Somehow, the Pirates are now the next closest team with an elimination number of two.

Current NL Playoff Picture

E: Braves* (2)

C: Cubs (1)

W: Dodgers (3)

WC1: Brewers (4)

WC2: Cardinals (5)