As the hunt for October ensues, Major League Baseball playoff spots are coming down to the wire. Ten teams in the American League and eight National League teams are within five games of getting a chance at competing for a championship.
If the season ended today, the Red Sox (East), Indians (Central) and Rangers (West) would qualify for the American League as Baltimore and Toronto would match up in the Wild Card playoff. In the National League, the Nationals (East), Cubs (Central) and Dodgers (West) would clinch as division leaders while the Giants and Mets would be the Wild Card teams.
No team should get comfortable though, especially in the Wild Card race. Teams like the New York Yankees began gaining traction after their post-trade deadline youth movement. After a seven-game winning streak, they are now tied with Detroit, two games out of a wild card spot. Tyler Austin is one of the rookies that has helped the Bronx Bombers in their turnaround, and he says they have the tools to contend.
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Heavy-handed series are approaching. The Red Sox will host the Orioles for three games and then will turn right around and face the Yankees in a four game series as Boston tries to extend a slim one game lead over Toronto. To make it even messier, the AL East teams in contention will all play each other at the close of the season; Orioles-Yankees and Blue Jays-Red Sox.
The National League race isn’t as crowded but nothing should be considered set in stone.
The top spot in the National League Wild Card is currently claimed by the San Francisco Giants by 1.5 games and the Mets hold just half a game lead. Mets first baseman James Loney feels confident as they head down the 20 game stretch to the post season.
The Cardinals will look to delay the Cubs clinching the National League Central division while they fight to pull ahead of the Mets with their three game series beginning Monday. The Marlins, clinging to faint playoff hopes five games out of the wild card will face Atlanta in a series starting tonight.
And what if there’s a tie? There would be playoffs just to be in the playoffs.
Essentially, from now until the Wild Card playoffs on October 4th and 5th, every game will count.