MLB postseason picture: Dodgers inch closer to Rockies behind Clayton Kershaw, bullpen

September is upon us, which means every race in Major League Baseball is headed for the home stretch. Every game matters more than ever to the teams competing for a postseason spot. 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.

We were back to a full slate in Major League Baseball and that meant a lot of movement in the postseason picture. Perhaps the biggest game took place in Denver, where the opener of a critical three-game series in the National League West went in favor of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With ace Clayton Kershaw pitching well on the hill and Yasiel Puig homering in his return from suspension, Los Angeles topped the Rockies 4-2 at Coors Field. In doing so, the Dodgers moved to one-half game behind Colorado in the NL West standings.

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The Rockies got to Kershaw early, scoring two runs in the second inning. From that point on the stud left-hander settled in nicely, completing six innings before turning it over to the bullpen. With closer Kenley Jansen unavailable this weekend due to health concerns, Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, Ross Stripling, Scott Alexander and Kenta Maeda combined to record the final nine outs.

It wasn’t exactly pretty once the bullpen entered, but it was good enough to get the Dodgers’ weekend off to a much-needed positive start.

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw came through again in a big game against the Rockies. (AP)

KEY RACES

• NL Central: The Cubs were rained out in Washington. They’ll play two against the Nationals on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Brewers moved to four games back with their 4-2 win against the Giants.  Elsewhere, the Cubs got help from one of their former prospects as Jeimer Candelario’s walk-off home run pushed the Tigers over the Cardinals. St. Louis is now 5.5 back.

• NL West: The Diamondbacks moved to 1.5 games behind Colorado with a 5-3 win against the Braves.

• NL East: The Phillies were happy with the Braves’ loss. After beating the Mets 4-3 earlier Friday, they’re 2.5 games behind Atlanta in the division race.

• NL Wild Card: The Brewers maintain the top spot with a 1.5-game lead on St. Louis. The Cardinals hold on the second spot is more tenuous as the Dodgers pulled within one.

• AL West: The Astros rallied late, scoring three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to beat the Red Sox 6-3. Houston’s division lead remains at 3.5 games after the Athletics won too.

• AL East: The Red Sox loss allowed the Yankees to gain a game in the standings. New York’s now 8.5 games back after shutting out the Mariners 4-0 behind Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees aren’t out of it yet with six games left to play against Boston.

• AL Wild Card: These are still the Yankees and Athletics spots to lose. New York is up 3.5 games for the top spot, while Oakland holds a 6.5-game edge on Seattle for the second spot.

MAGIC NUMBER WATCH

Cleveland Indians: The Indians’ modest three-game winning streak came to an end in Toronto. The Blue Jays won 3-2 in 11 innings on Kevin Pillar’s walk-off home run. The Twins were also victorious against the Royals, keeping Cleveland’s magic number at seven.

ELIMINATION WATCH

There were no eliminations Friday, but the Blue Jays and Marlins each saw their elimination number drop to one. They’re one bad outcome away from joining the Orioles, Royals, White Sox, Tigers and Padres as postseason outsiders.

SATURDAY’S MUST-SEE GAME

It’s tough to pick just one from Saturday’s full slate, but we’ll definitely have our eye on the second of three games between the Astros and Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Astros will enter on a six-game winning streak after taking the opener. The potential postseason preview offers two of the most relentless offenses in baseball, but this game also has a sneaky good pitching matchup with All-Star Charlie Morton taking on Eduardo Rodriguez.

Check it out on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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