Last night, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds came into play tied, both having a “magic number” of 2 to clinch a playoff spot. The Pirates beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, while the Reds, at home, beat the Mets in 10 innings. Both teams then retreated to their locker rooms to watch the conclusion of the Nationals-Cardinals game. When the Cardinals won, 4-3, the Pirates and Reds had clinched playoff spots. Ironically enough, it was the second straight day a team celebrated a clincher in the Wrigley Field visitors clubhouse, after the Braves clinched the NL East there yesterday. These teams will play in at least the Wild Card round, on October 1, although they remain tied at 2 games behind the Cardinals for the Central division lead. In Washington, it was a season labeled by the fans and the media as “World Series or bust,” but due to their struggles throughout the summer, and despite their late charge, they have missed the playoffs entirely. We now know which 5 teams will play in the NL portion of the playoffs, although we don’t yet know seeding or who will be the champions in the NL Central and who will fall back on the Wild Card.
Outside of the NL Central, there is only 1 other division still up for grabs, the AL Central. However, the Detroit Tigers magic number is 2 over the Cleveland Indians, so they will likely clinch in the next couple of days.
The only other race during this last week of the season for actual playoff berths (as opposed to teams fighting for seeding and home-field advantage) is in the AL Wild Card race. Currently, the Tampa Bay Rays hold the first Wild Card berth, by a game over the Cleveland Indians. The Indians hold that second spot over the Texas Rangers by a game, with the Kansas City Royals 3 back, the New York Yankees 4 back, and the Baltimore Orioles 5 back, and on the brink of elimination. Since there are only 6 games remaining for each of these teams, it would take a miracle for the Yankees or the Orioles to make the postseason, as they would have to go 5-1 or 6-0 and have a long losing streak from either the Rays or Indians. The Yankees do play the Rays the next three evenings, so they could make up ground that way. The Royals are an interesting story, as they have clinched their first winning season since 2003, and are seeking their first playoff berth since they won it all in 1985.
In the race for home-field advantage in the NL, the Atlanta Braves at 92-64 lead the St. Louis Cardinals by a half game and the Los Angeles Dodgers by 2 games. In the AL, the Boston Red Sox at 95-62 lead the Oakland Athletics by a game and the Detroit Tigers by 4 games.