MLB Playoff Wrap: Division Titles Nearly Clinched

In today’s MLB playoff wrap, the Texas Rangers have clinched the AL West, joining the Chicago Cubs as the only team to have their division sealed with just over a week to go. But which team could be next to join them?

There is a reason that both league’s wild card races have been so intriguing this year, and it’s partly due to the fact that the divisional races have been so boring. With six teams holding firm a firm grip on their respective divisional aspirations, the remaining good teams are left to compete for their own spot in the playoffs through the wild card. There are two tiers of playoff teams right now: Those that looked primed to win 95 games or more and have been relatively dominant for most of the season, and those that look to be relegated to about 86-89, depending on the league.

The Texas Rangers have already reached the 90 win plateau, sealing win number 91 last night in Oakland by defeating the A’s 3-0. Opposing pitcher Kendall Graveman had a perfect game going through six innings before Carlos Gomez singled on a bouncing ball in the hole at short. Ian Desmond followed that up with a single of his own before Adrian Beltre smashed a one out, three-run homer that ended up clinching the AL West.

With the Astros 10-6 loss in Houston to the Angels, one AL West team would have been eliminated of their own accord, but the Seattle Mariners would have still held on to a sliver of a hope had the Rangers lost on Friday night. Instead, the Rangers extinguished that glint of hope.

Seattle won their game in Minnesota, 10-1, using a six-run seventh to make this match-up a blowout. The win has them keep pace with Toronto, Detroit and Baltimore, who all won their respective games. The Jays still hold a one game lead over the Tigers for the first wild card spot while the Orioles rode a solid outing from Yovani Gallardo to keep their deficit to just a half-game behind Detroit.

The Mariners remain two games back, while Houston dropped a game in the standings to fall to 2.5 back, and the Yankees were clobbered by the Jays, 9-0, to fall to four back. The Yanks still have three games left with Toronto, so if they are able to take all three they have a chance at making a dent in that deficit. If they drop one more, their season could be over with so many teams to climb over.

After both the Mets an Giants won on Thursday with St. Louis off to take control of the wild card spots, New York continued earned another W against the Phillies (10-5) while San Francisco dropped their contest with the Padres, 7-2. With a Cardinals loss to the Cubs earlier in the day, the Giants remain just a half-game up on the Cardinals for the second wild card spot, while the Mets padded their lead to a game over the Giants and 1.5 games over St. Louis.

As far as the divisional races go, the Boston Red Sox ran their winning streak to nine with a 2-1 win over the Rays, keeping their lead over the Jays and O’s at 5.5 and 7, while diminishing their magic number to clinch the AL East to four. With two more wins over the Rays and two Blue Jays losses (to the Yankees, which would make things interesting), the Sox could clinch by the conclusion of action on Sunday.

The Cleveland Indians are sitting pretty with a seven game lead over the Tigers and a magic number of three. The two clubs have four games scheduled in Detroit to begin next week, but there are a few combinations that would have the Indians clinch a MLB playoff berth before they square off.

The Nationals and Dodgers also hold large leads over their closest competitors in the Mets and Giants, and both teams hold magic numbers of two. It just takes a combination of a win by the Dodgers/Nats and a loss by the Mets/Giants on Saturday for the two division leaders to clinch tomorrow night. If one team were to clinch on Saturday, the Dodgers have the best odds of doing so, with the Giants’ second-half woes against the Padres coupled with Clayton Kershaw taking the mound for Los Angeles.

With a week’s worth of games remaining, all of these divisions appear to be wrapped up. That said, there are a few teams that are facing new injury concerns (Nats, Mets, Indians) that could make the MLB playoffs a bit more exciting. The Cubs are still the heavy favorites to win it all, but the Red Sox and Dodgers are right behind them. The Sox could outscore Chicago while the Dodgers have enough depth and pitching to limit the offense of the Cubs.

October should be a lot of fun.

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