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MLB Playoff Picture Update: The NL Central is quietly getting close

The Brewers just refuse to lose in the month of September.

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

American League East

The Yankees have already clinched this division

American League Central

The Twins couldn’t quite wrap this division up on Tuesday, but they were close enough that they controlled their own destiny to possibly pop some champagne on Wednesday. With a magic number of three, they just needed to win to open up that possibility. Sure enough, they did their job in Detroit. Jake Odorizzi had a big night on the mound and the offense broke through for four runs in the seventh, and that was enough for a 4-2 victory on the road. The Indians, who are more locked into a wildcard race than this one, were not to be outdone. In an offensive explosion that included a grand slam from José Ramírez in his first at bat since breaking his hamate bone, Cleveland crushed the White Sox to the tune of an 11-0 win. So, the Twins do get their magic number down to two, meaning they could clinch the Central with a win and an Indians loss on Wednesday.

American League West

The Astros have already clinched this division.

American League Wildcard

As I alluded to above, this is the best race in the American League, and one that really looks like it could come down to the wire. We know Cleveland won. At the top of this race is the A’s, who just need to play decently well down the stretch to make it into the game. They couldn’t get the job done on Tuesday, though. The pitching was solid, allowing only three runs, but the offense couldn’t get going and Oakland dropped a close, 3-2 game on the road against the Angels. That allowed Cleveland to pick up a game, and Tampa Bay needed to win at home against the Yankees to keep pace with the Indians, with whom they were tied entering the day. They did just that, and in dramatic fashion. This game went twelve innings, with Ji-Man Choi eventually blasting the walkoff shot to send the Rays home happy.

National League East

The Braves have already clinched the division.

National League Central

If any division race is going to come down to the wire, it’s this one. St. Louis was still very much in control heading into Tuesday’s action, though, with a 3.5-game lead. However, they were jostling with a Brewers team that just doesn’t seem to lose. That was the case on Tuesday as well, with Milwaukee falling behind 2-0 in the first but then allowing no more runs and eventually picking up a 4-2 victory over the Reds. So, the Cardinals had to try and keep pace, and they played an all-time classic. They were out in Arizona for this one and Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run. No more runs would be scored until the bottom of the ninth, when Ildemaro Vargas hit a solo shot of his own to tie the game and send it into extras. Both sides scores in the 13th, and then Vargas eventually and finally walked it off all the way in the 19th inning to hand the Cardinals a crushing loss against the Diamondbacks. So, suddenly the red-hot Brewers are just 2.5 games behind the Cardinals in the Central, with St. Louis holding a magic number of three with four to play.

National League West

The Dodgers have already clinched this division.

National League Wildcard

This race, as we’ve mentioned, has not been as exciting as it looked like it would be, with the Nationals and Brewers now just battling to see who will get home field in the Wildcard Game. Washington got to pop some champagne on Tuesday night, as they took both ends of a doubleheader against the Phillies, who in turn were officially eliminated from playoff contention. The wins clinched a wildcard spot for Washington. As mentioned above, Milwaukee kept pace with a win of their own. The Mets and Cubs still had a very outside chance if they won out the rest of the way. The Cubs couldn’t do it against the Pirates, though the Mets did rally in extras to beat the Marlins. Even so, both teams now have tragic numbers of one, meaning they have to win out and the Brewers have to lose the rest of their games to force a tie. It’s not going to happen. As for the race for home field, the Nationals have a slim one-game lead over Milwaukee.