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
As we know, it was not a great day on the Red Sox side of things on Friday, as Boston dropped their series opener against New York by a score of 8-3. Meanwhile, the Rays were able to take care of business on their side of things, allowing just two hits as a team in an 8-0 romp over the Marlins. That combination means Tampa Bay can clinch this division as soon as Saturday, as it opened up their lead over Boston to seven games, and their magic number now sits at two.
American League Central
The White Sox had already clinched their division prior to Friday’s action.
American League West
The Astros are just running out the clock in a sense, as it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which they lose the division. You wouldn’t know that by looking at what happened to them on Friday, however. Houston was absolutely blown out by the Athletics, giving up 11 runs over the seventh and eighth innings en route to a 12-run loss. Meanwhile, the Mariners just cannot lose. It was another close one, as seemingly all of their games are, but Seattle came out in front and beat the Angels in a one-run game. That pulled the Mariners to within six, and with Houston’s magic number still at three it means they can’t clinch until Sunday at the earliest.
American League Wildcard
We know the Red Sox lost, which in turn means the Yankees won. We also know both of the teams out west won, which just leaves us with Toronto. The Blue Jays were the hottest team on the planet not too long ago, but the Twins are proving to be their kryptonite. Minnesota scored three runs off their former teammate, José Berríos, and that was enough to pull out a 3-1 victory. With all of that, the upshot is that Boston now guarantees they will have a playoff position at the end of this weekend no matter what happens in their series. That said, their cushion over New York for the top spot is now down to just one game. Meanwhile, the Mariners and Blue Jays are now tied two games behind New York, while Oakland sits on the periphery, trailing the Yankees by four games.
National League East
The Braves had one and a half games to play on Friday, the first of which was a completion of a game from earlier in the year played in Atlanta. This series is in San Diego, however, so for that game the Braves were a home team in the Padres park. They would lose that first end, however, thanks to a Fernando Tatís Jr. home run. They got some revenge in the second half of the twin bill, with Max Fried tossing a complete game shutout in the win. Meanwhile, the Phillies played just one game, and a two-out, three-run homer from Didi Gregorius catapulted them to a comeback win over the Pirates. Atlanta now holds a 1.5-game lead over the Phillies, with the lead at two in the loss column.
National League Central
The Brewers have to be relieved to no longer be playing the Cardinals, who appear determined to never again lose a baseball game. And Milwaukee took advantage, cruising to a 5-1 win over the Mets. But those pesky Cardinals had two chances to lose on Friday and passed each time. Weathering a comeback bid in their first game against the Cubs before blowing them out in the second game, two more wins for St. Louis made it 14 in a row overall. The Brewers still hold a seven-game lead in the division, and with a magic number of two they can theoretically clinch things on Saturday.
National League West
The best divisional race in baseball this year didn’t have any changes on Friday, with both teams taking care of business. The Giants, for their part, were tied with the Rockies for much of their game before pulling away late and ultimately winning 7-2. The Dodgers, meanwhile, had a three-run second that would prove to be enough in what was eventually a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks. That means San Francisco still holds a one-game lead in the division.
National League Wildcard
We know the Dodgers and Cardinals both won, which means they both sit comfortably at the top of these standings. L.A. has an astounding 14-game cushion for the top spot. With the Phillies winning, the Cardinals still have a five-game lead for the second spot, and their magic number for clinching is four.