With time running out in the regular season, the races around the league are coming down to the wire. That does include the American League wildcard, in which the Red Sox are stuck in a tight race, but also the rest of the league as well. For those interested in that league-wide picture, we’ll be providing a daily update the rest of the season on the state of races around baseball.
American League East
Thanks to a tremendous game from Kyle Schwarber, the Red Sox finished off a quick two-game sweep of the New York Mets last night to keep themselves at the top of the American League Wild Card standings. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make up any ground on the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, who dispatched the Toronto Blue Jays fairly easily in the final part of a critical division series. With a six-game lead in the division and the best record in the AL, the Rays, who are officially playoff bound after last night, are tightening their grip on the AL East crown and home field advantage. Their magic number is four.
American League Central
Most of the teams in the AL Central did not play on Wednesday, as both the White Sox and Tigers game and the Royals and Cleveland game were postponed due to inclement weather. The only team in the division that did play was the Minnesota Twins, who held on for a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs, but considering they sit in last place and 18.5 games back of the first-place White Sox, that result didn’t affect much of anything. Chicago’s magic number sits at two.
American League West
By pulling out a 9-5 win in extra innings against the Los Angeles Angels, the Houston Astros didn’t let their AL West division lead slip, as they remain eight games ahead of second place, meaning it would take a miracle for them to fumble the title away now. However, the team in second place is now the Seattle Mariners, who have won four-straight, including three-straight games against the Oakland A’s to leapfrog them in the standings. Houston’s magic number is three.
American League Wildcard
Despite the Mariners’ late life, their pursuit of a playoff spot remains in treacherous territory and not just because the Astros are closing in on the AL West crown. The Red Sox are leading the Wildcard race with an 88-65 record and the New York Yankees, who rallied for a win against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, hold the second spot at 86-67, putting them two games back of Boston. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are just barely on the outside, ceding a game Wednesday to fall a half game back of the Yankees. The Mariners are 2.5 games back of New York and Oakland is now 3.5 games back following Wednesday’s loss.
National League East
While the Mets continued their decline by losing to the Red Sox, both the Phillies and Atlanta secured victories on Wednesday. Atlanta still has the upper hand in the division, improving to 80-70 with a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the second-place Phillies kept pace at three games back by beating Baltimore 4-3. The Mets, meanwhile, have lost eight of their last 10 and at 73-79, are eight games back of first place and five games back of second.
National League Central
Someone has to do something about the Cardinals because, at this rate, they may never lose again. St. Louis crushed the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers 10-2 on Wednesday for their 11th straight overall victory and third straight against the Brewers. St. Louis is still a distant 8.5 games back of Milwaukee for first place in the NL Central, but their path to playoff contention is looking more and more clear. The Brewers’ magic number stays static at three.
National League West
The San Francisco Giants’ incredible season kept on trucking on Wednesday, as they defeated the San Diego Padres 8-6. The Giants are now one victory away from a 100-win season and, because the second-place Dodgers lost to the Rockies, San Francisco earned some breathing room in the division race, which they now lead by two games.
National League Wildcard
Regardless of whether the Giants or Dodgers take the NL West, the runner-up is guaranteed the top Wildcard spot. The Dodgers currently hold the distinction, obviously, sitting 14.5 games up on the Cardinals, who are 4.5 games ahead of the fading Cincinnati Reds and the still kicking Phillies for the second Wildcard spot. Meanwhile, the Padres are six games back and the Mets are 9.5 games back.