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MLB Playoff Race Update: The White Sox clinch

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It’s their first division title since 2008.

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Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images

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

There’s no changes atop the American League East from Thursday, with both the Red Sox and Rays having the day off. Tampa Bay still leads by six with a magic number of four.

American League Central

And we have the first race of 2021 to come to a conclusion. The White Sox entered the day with a magic number of two to clinch this division, and they were facing Cleveland, who trailed them in second place, five times this weekend. They just needed one win to clinch it, and they didn’t waste any time. In the first game of a doubleheader, they got two homers from Tim Anderson and a six-run second to help cruise to victory, ending this race. It’s their first Central title since 2008.

American League West

Like the other two divisions in the AL, there isn’t much suspense in the West, though Houston didn’t get any closer to clinching another division title on Thursday. They were taking on the Angels Thursday night, and the bats were shut down by Alex Cobb for much of the night, leading to a 3-2 loss. Seattle, meanwhile, continued their run by completing a four-game sweep of the Athletics. They finished things off with a one-run victory powered by three homers. Houston still leads this division by seven games and has a magic number of three.

American League Wildcard

As we know, the Red Sox were off, and the Yankees were as well as they head to Fenway for this weekend’s three-game set. We also know Seattle continued to beat up on Oakland to solidify their position in this race. The other team left is Toronto, and they failed to get it done. Starting a four-game set against a bad Twins team, the Blue Jays gave up a big three-run homer to Nick Gordon in the fifth that helped Minnesota pull away and take a 7-2 victory. With the dust settled, the Red Sox still hold the top wildcard spot, leading New York (who comes to Boston starting tonight) by two games. Toronto, meanwhile, now trails the Yankees by a full game while Seattle sits two behind New York and Oakland sits four back.

National League East

The Braves and Phillies are jockeying for position in this division, and each had the pleasure of playing some of the worst teams in baseball on Thursday, with Atlanta taking on the Diamondbacks while the Phillies took on in-state rival Pittsburgh. The Braves did not take care of business, taking a 4-1 lead into the seventh but leaving the inning trailing 6-4, which would be the final score. The Phillies, meanwhile, came back from an early 6-0 deficit to ultimately blow out the Pirates, winning 12-6. The Phillies now climb back to within two games of the Braves in the division.

National League Central

The Cardinals may never lose again. Milwaukee had pulled far enough ahead that there’s not much doubt as to whether or not they’ll win this division, but St. Louis is dragging it out a little longer. They got another win on Thursday, their 12th in a row, and this one with some late-game offense. They scored seven runs in the final three innings and erased a 5-0 deficit to win 8-5 in Milwaukee. The Brewers still lead by 7.5 games, with a magic number of three.

National League West

Accounting for both the quality of the teams and the tightness of the race, this is probably going to be the most exciting of the stretch run. San Francisco created a little bit of extra room atop the West on Wednesday, but then gave back that ground on Thursday. Playing the Padres, the Giants took it to extras but they were outlasted by San Diego in a loss. Meanwhile, the Dodgers also went to extra innings, but they were able to come out on top in Colorado for a two-run win. As a result, Los Angeles pulled back to within a game in the division.

National League Wildcard

This race is becoming not much of a race at all with St. Louis continuing to win. The Dodgers still lead this race by a large margin, holding the top spot by 14.5 games. The Cardinals, meanwhile, sit comfortably in the second spot, leading the Phillies by 4.5 games. With the Reds coming just short of a comeback and losing to the Washing Juan Sotos Nationals, they trail by 5.5 games. The Cardinals have a magic number of six to finish off this race.