With the calendar flipping to September, it is time to shift our focuses away from the minors and into the playoff chases around the league. The minor-league season will continue for a bit longer — the regular season ended on Monday, but Lowell and Salem will be in the postseason after that — but the year is basically over. So, for the rest of the MLB regular season we will have daily updates on the playoff chases around the league. If you’re only here for Red Sox stuff and don’t really care about the league as a whole, that’s cool! This post probably won’t be for you, though.
American League East
The Yankees continue to dominate this division, though they did lose some ground today. Their grip on the AL East is not in danger, but they were shut out for the first time in 220 games (that’s absurd) in a loss to the Rangers on Monday. Meanwhile, the Rays picked up a win thanks to some late-game heroics from Tommy Pham in extras against the Orioles. As a result, the Yankees’ lead in the division fell to nine.
American League Central
The Twins continued to dominate a soft portion of their schedule before heading to Fenway on Tuesday, finishing off a sweep of the Tigers. They picked up a one-run victory over the Tigers on Monday thanks to a game-winning hit from Max Kepler in the eighth. Cleveland was able to keep pace this time around thanks to an 11-3 bludgeoning of the White Sox. Minnesota’s lead in the division stays steady at 5.5.
American League West
Like the Yankees, the Astros don’t really have a challenge in their division. They picked up another victory on Monday, this time in extras against the Brewers. It was their starter shining again, with Gerrit Cole striking out 14. Oakland had the day off, so Houston picked up a half-game and now are up 10.5 games over the A’s.
American League Wildcard
With two of the four contenders — Oakland and Boston — having the day off and Tampa Bay and Cleveland both picking up wins, the two teams in the playoff positions picked up a half-game in the standings. Tampa Bay is still in the top spot with a half-game lead over Cleveland, who in turn has a one-game lead over the A’s. The Red Sox now sit 5.5 behind the Indians for the second spot.
National League East
The Braves continue to chug along as one of the hottest teams in baseball as they have been a bit overshadowed by the Dodgers’ dominance and the potential wildness in the Central. Atlanta picked up another win on Monday. That helped them pick up a game in the standings, too, with the Nationals dropping a 7-3 loss to the Mets. The Braves now hold a 6.5-game lead in the East.
National League Central
As I said, there is some potential for wildness in this Central race with three teams feeling like they have a shot with a month to go. Nobody is going to have a chance as long as the Cardinals keep winning, though, and they did so yet again on Monday thanks to a strong performance from Adam Wainwright against the Giants. The Cubs were able to use a five-run seventh to catapult themselves to victory to keep pace, while the Brewers lost to the Astros as mentioned above. St. Louis holds a three-game lead over the Cubs while Milwaukee now drops to seven games back.
National League West
The Dodgers aren’t going anywhere and are the clear class of the West. With a blowout win over the Rockies on Monday they now have an 18-game lead in the division and a magic number of six.
National League Wildcard
Things did tighten up a bit in the wildcard race, with the top-seeded Nationals dropping the aforementioned game to the Mets. Meanwhile, the Cubs picked up their win and the Brewers lost. On top of those results, the Phillies slugged their way to an easy win over the Reds while the Diamondbacks clobbered Padres pitching for a win. Here’s how the wildcard picture stands for now:
- The Nationals hold the top spot in the race, with a 3.5-game cushion over the Cubs.
- Chicago holds the second spot.
- The Phillies are 2.5 games out
- The Diamondbacks are 3.5 games out
- The Brewers and Mets are both 4.0 games out