Each passing day gives us a clearer idea of what MLB’s playoff picture will ultimately look like. A handful of playoff spots are still up for grabs, and there are still home-field advantages to be claimed. Let’s run down last night’s action to see where we stand.
AL Wild Card race remains tight
The Rays are in a precarious position, and are in danger of falling out of the AL’s final playoff spot. They barely survived last night against Boston, winning in 11 innings thanks to a walk-off single from Willy Adames. They were in line to win in regulation on the strength of a 6.1-inning, two-run start from Charlie Morton, but a two-run homer in the ninth from Mitch Moreland sent the game to extras.
Elsewhere, Cleveland handled the Phillies 5-2 in an interleague matchup. Young ace Shane Bieber was excellent, turning in 7.1 innings of two-run ball, striking out seven and walking none. Carlos Carrasco recorded the final four outs to notch just his second career save. A fun side effect Cleveland’s win was that it officially eliminated the Boston Red Sox from playoff contention, prematurely ending their title defense.
Tampa Bay and Cleveland are both 91-63 and in a tie for the second Wild Card spot in the AL. There is a distinct chance this race comes down to the final day of the season. There’s even the possibility that a Game 163 is needed to determine who advances to the Wild Card Game.
Both teams sit two games behind the Athletics, who crushed the Rangers 8-0. Chad Pinder smashed a three-run homer in the second to put Oakland right in front, and Mike Fiers pitched eight dominant shutout innings. The A’s are 93-61 and are in strong position to qualify for the playoffs.
Astros keep eyes on home-field advantage
Houston entered the night with a half-game lead over the Yankees for the best record in the AL, and their eyes remained firmly on the prize. They dispatched a reeling Angels team 6-4. Zack Greinke was uneven across five innings, but home runs from Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman powered Houston to victory.
The Astros moved to 101-53, 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees for the best record in the AL. Houston has to be considered the favorites to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Minnesota closes in on AL Central title
The Twins downed the Royals by a score of 4-3. Back-end starter Randy Dobnak turned in 5.1 solid innings, yielding one run and striking out five. Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano each drove in runs in the first inning to give Minnesota an early lead, and September callup Brusdar Graterol and Trevor May held off the Royals in the final innings to secure the win.
The Twins are now 95-59 and lead the AL Central by 4.5 games. They have all but clinched the division, and are looking more and more like the Yankees’ likely opponent in the ALDS.
Over in the senior circuit, the Dodgers are finishing up their slate, looking to secure the top record in the NL and perhaps all of MLB. They downed the Rockies 12-5 last night, in spite of a shaky start from Clayton Kershaw, who gave up three homers and four runs in six innings. Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock each homered as part of a seven-run fourth inning to lead LA.
The Dodgers are now 99-55, still a smidgen behind the Yankees in terms of overall record. This only would matter if the teams met in the World Series, but it’d be nice to secure home-field in any potential championship series.