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
The Rays came into Saturday’s action with a chance at clinching this division for the second straight year if they could win and the Red Sox could lose. We know the Red Sox lost in a game that, frankly, I’d prefer we never speak of again. That just left it up to Tampa Bay to take care of business on their end. They did just that. They scored at least one run in each of their last five innings at the plate, and their pitching worked around 12 hits to allow only three runs en route to a 7-3 win over Miami. With their 96th win of the year, the Rays officially clinch the American League East.
American League Central
The White Sox officially clinched this division earlier in the week.
American League West
Houston didn’t have a chance to officially clinch this division on Saturday, but the possibility remained for them to do so this weekend as their magic number was three before action began. For their part, however, they didn’t get the job done. The offense went cold against Sean Manaea and the Athletics pitching staff, and Starling Marte ripped a walk-off base hit to win it for Oakland over the Astros. The good news for Houston is they got a little help from the Angels, who took down a surging Mariners team. Seattle was absolutely routed in a 14-1 loss. As a result, Houston’s magic number is now at two and they still have a chance to clinch this division on Sunday with a win and a Mariners loss.
American League Wildcard
So far, we know the Red Sox lost, which means the Yankees won, and we also know that Seattle lost while Oakland won. That just leaves the Blue Jays, who were looking to stop a little two-game skid. They did just that in Minnesota, falling behind 1-0 in the first but then not allowing another run all night in a 6-1 win. Boston is now tied with New York atop the wildcard standings, though with both teams still holding on to a playoff position. Toronto sits two games out, while Seattle is three back and Oakland is four behind.
National League East
Unlike in the American League, where two divisions are officially clinched and the third could be as soon as tonight, there are two divisions still up for grabs in the NL. One of them is here, where Atlanta came in leading and took care of business on Saturday. Their pitching wasn’t great, but they tied the game up in the ninth before winning it in the 10th for an extra-innings victory in San Diego. Meanwhile, the Phillies also did what they were supposed to do, getting a Maddux (complete game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches) from Ranger Suarez in a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh. With both teams winning, there was no change in the division race and Atlanta leads by 1.5 games.
National League Central
This is the one division that is mostly over, though the pesky Cardinals are keeping it going a bit longer with their long win streak. But for the Brewers’ part, they did what they needed to do on Saturday, holding the Mets to just one run and squeaking by with a 2-1 win. As for the Cardinals, well, they just don’t lose. They held down on the gas towards the end of this game and took home their 15th straight win in an 8-5 victory over the Cubs. Still, with their win Milwaukee knocked their magic number to one, and they can clinch the division on Sunday with a win regardless of what the Cardinals do.
National League West
This is still the most exciting race given the records of both San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the Giants were the only one of the two to do the job on Saturday. Both teams were playing bad opponents, with the Giants managing a fairly easy 7-3 win over the Rockies. However, in Arizona the Dodgers were not able to get anything going against Zac Gallen, and they dropped a 7-2 game. That gave the Giants a little bit more cushion in the West, which they now lead by two full games. Their magic number to clinch the division is six.
National League Wildcard
Although the divisions in the NL are a bit more exciting, the wildcard is not. The second-place team in the West is clearly getting one of the spots, and they’ll be hosting the game. L.A. currently has a 13-game grasp on that top spot. And the Cardinals are just running away with the second spot. With their win, the Phillies still remain five games back, and St. Louis has a magic number of three to clinch a spot in October.