For the third straight year, the Detroit Tigers clinched the AL Central title on Wednesday, defeating the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, to reduce their magic number to 0. The Cleveland Indians are now 4.5 games back, and the Tigers have only 3 games left (the Indians have 4). The Tigers are a team many see as very dangerous in postseason play, due to a deep lineup that includes Prince Fielder, Torii Hunter, and MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera, as well as a deep rotation including 2012 AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, who is 20-3 and may be this year’s Cy Young winner, and Doug Fister, as well as a good bench and bullpen. They will begin postseason play on Friday, October 4.
The St. Louis Cardinals have their magic number down to 1 after they beat the Washington Nationals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Chicago Cubs. The Cincinnati Reds lost to the New York Mets and were eliminated from division contention, although they have already clinched a Wild Card berth. All three of these teams, in fact, will play in the postseason. As they stand, the Pirates lead the Reds by a game to host the NL Wild Card game on Tuesday, October 1. These two teams play each other in Cincinnati this weekend. With the Cardinals magic number at 1, they have clinched at least a tie for the division title.
The AL Wild Card race, which had six teams within three games of each other just a handful of days ago, is now down to three teams. The Kansas City Royals were eliminated tonight after losing to the Mariners in Seattle. The New York Yankees were also eliminated tonight with a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Considering all the Yankees have had going on, from injuries to Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixiera, to the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis drug scandal, to the pending retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. The Orioles were eliminated earlier in the week. The three teams left are the Tampa Bay Rays, the Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers. The Rays lead the Indians by 1 game for the first Wild Card spot. The Rangers trail the Indians by a game for the second spot. All three teams have 4 games left, and the top two after Sunday’s action will play in the AL Wild Card game on Wednesday, October 2. In the event of a tie between two teams for the second spot, there will be a tiebreaker game on Monday, September 30. If there is a three-way tie, there will be games on the 30th and on Tuesday, October 1.
The Braves, in a 4-0 loss to the Brewers, fell a half game behind the Cardinals for the best record in the NL, with the Dodgers 2.5 games back. In the AL, the Red Sox lead the Athletics by 2 games and the Tigers by 3 games.