MLB postseason picture: Yankees clinch postseason berth while NL races get more complicated

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·3-min read

The New York Yankees have punched their ticket to the postseason.

With the Seattle Mariners’ loss Sunday, the Yankees officially clinched their 22nd playoff berth in the past 26 seasons. They are the fifth American League team to clinch a spot in the 2020 postseason, joining the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins.

A lot has changed for the Yankees over the past 10 days. After losing to Toronto on Sept. 8, New York had fallen back to .500 after a 16-6 start and was at risk of being passed in the standings by the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees then reeled off a 10-game winning streak, which just ended Sunday against the Red Sox, to take control of their own destiny. So even though they’re backing into the playoffs like this, this Yankees team will take it.

New York Yankees' Luke Voit celebrates hitting a three-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Yankees first baseman Luke Voit has surged to the top of the MLB home run leaderboard. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

The Yankees are still alive in the AL East race as well. They trail the first-place Rays by 3.5 games heading into the season’s final week. Tampa Bay has shown no real sign of slowing down though, having won seven of their past 10.

On Sunday, the Padres also clinched their first playoff appearance since 2006 by beating the Mariners in extra innings. They’re the second team to make the postseason in the NL, where the races are a little more muddy than in the AL. The week ahead, however, will certainly change that.

Magic Number Countdown

ATHLETICS: The A’s lost Sunday and the Astros won, meaning their magic number stayed at one. The A’s are off Monday, but if the Astros lose, the A’s can still clinch.

BRAVES: With a 7-0 win Sunday over the Mets, the Braves’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to three. They’ll start a series Monday against the second-place Marlins.

CUBS: The Cubs lost to the Twins on Sunday, so they enter a series Monday against the Pirates with a magic number of three. The Pirates, the worst in baseball, are a team you’d want to play in this type of situation.

DODGERS: Off Monday, the Dodgers have to wait at least a couple days to clinch the NL West. Their magic number is three.

Key Races

AL CENTRAL: The White Sox and Twins are both in the postseason already, but the question remains who wins the division. The first-place White Sox lost Sunday and a Twins win closed the gap to two games.

NL WILD CARD: The Brewers have surged close to wild-card position with four straight wins. They’re still on the outside but are only a half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second spot. The Giants also sit a half-game back.

The Brewers are making a run for an NL wild-card spot. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Brewers are making a run for an NL wild-card spot. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Games to Watch

Brewers at Reds (3:40 p.m.) — Speaking of that NL wild-card race, the Brewers have a chance to make it interesting as they visit the Reds for three games starting Monday that could upend the wild-card race.

Marlins at Braves (4:10 p.m.) — The Braves and Marlins might decide the NL East this week, as Miami comes to Atlanta for four games. The Braves are hoping to clinch a playoff spot by then, but the Marlins are still only three games out in the NL East.

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