September is upon us, which means every race in Major League Baseball is headed for the home stretch. That’s why every night between now and the end of the regular season we’ll bring you an updated look at the MLB postseason picture.
The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are going in two different directions right now, and trust us, mid-September is not when a team wants to be going in the Phillies’ direction.
The Phillies lost two games Tuesday, in a doubleheader sweep by the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 4-1. For the Phillies, it was their fourth straight loss. For the Braves, their fourth straight win.
What’s that equal in the standings, kids? The Braves now have a 6.5 game lead in the NL East. In other words, they might want to start picking out champagne for the division-title celebration. It’s not a sure thing yet, but it’s getting closer. Atlanta’s Magic Number is now down to 12.
The state of MLB’s playoff races
NL Central: The Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Tuesday night to regain the game they lost in the standings Monday. The Cubs’ lead is back to two games, with one more to play against the Brew Crew at Wrigley. The Cardinals are in still in this thing too. They whooped on the Pirates 11-5 and they’re 3.5 back from the division lead.
NL West: The Colorado Rockies Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers both lost, which means the top of the NL remains the same. The Dodgers trail Colorado by 1.5 games. The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Rockies, however, so they gained some ground. They’re 2.5 back.
NL Wild Card: The NL Central teams are ahead of the NL West teams. That’s the best way to distill it. The Brewers have the top spot with the Cards 1.5 back. The Dodgers and D-backs are three games and four games out, respectively.
AL East: The Boston Red Sox clinched at least a playoff spot with their win Tuesday night. The Yankees lost to the Twins 10-5, so we’re getting closer to Magic Number time for the Red Sox, who have both a nine-game division lead and a Magic Number of nine to clinch the division.
AL Wild Card: The A’s win coupled with the Yankees’ loss means the Yankees are now within two of the top wild-card spot. The Mariners and Rays are both 8.5 back from the A’s, but that’s starting to look more impossible by the day.
Magic number watch
Cleveland Indians — 3: The Indians are only playing against their Magic Number at this point. And they can get there in a couple days. They beat the Rays 2-0 on Tuesday night.
If the playoffs started tomorrow
Wild-card games: A’s at Yankees; Cardinals at Brewers
ALDS: Indians vs. Astros; Wild-card winner vs. Red Sox
NLDS: Rockies vs. Braves; Wild-card winner vs. Cubs
The Los Angeles Angels are the next to face elimination. Their elimination number is two in the AL Wild Card, so an A’s win and Angels loss could end their season Wednesday. Next up would be the Mets, whose elimination number is four.
Wednesday’s must-see game
The NL West continues to be the most contentious division around and the first-place vs. third-place matchup between the D-backs and Rockies gives us both drama and a good pitching matchup. On Wednesday, the D-backs send Patrick Corbin (11-5, 3.01) to the mound to face Jon Gray (11-7, 4.69).
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