No letting up for Jays, Yanks in airtight East

No letting up for Jays, Yanks in airtight East

Although no team is eligible to clinch a playoff berth quite yet, the postseason picture is starting to take shape.

With several intra-division series throughout September, there will be no shortage of meaningful games as the season winds down and the field is narrowed to 10.

Below is a breakdown of how Wednesday's games helped determine the teams that will compete for this year's World Series crown:

MLB standings

American League East remains tight
The AL East is the closest division in baseball as the Blue Jays are clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead over the Yankees. On Wednesday, the lead remained the same as both teams put another tally in the win column.

The Yankees slugged their way to a 13-8 win over the Red Sox, concluding a 5-1 road trip in which the offense scored 57 runs.

Yankees' eight-run inning

"It's great, because you can't expect the same guys to do it every night," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "When you get guys down there producing the way we are, a lot of times you can have big numbers. We scored a lot of runs on this road trip. When you get production from those guys, you've got a chance to do that."

Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey threw a complete game and improved to 7-0 in the second half as the Blue Jays defeated the Indians, 5-1.

The two teams still have to play seven times -- four of which come next weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Must C: Donaldson's dash home

Anything is possible in September, but the Blue Jays have to like their chances, as they have won eight of the 12 previous meetings.

Kershaw dazzles in Dodgers' sweep
The Dodgers have won eight of their last nine games and completed a three-game sweep of the rival Giants with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday, extending their National League West lead to 6 1/2 games in the process.

Clayton Kershaw, as he so often is, was the star of the show.

Kershaw fans 15 in complete game

Kershaw turned in a dominant performance, as he twirled his third complete game of the season, while tying a career high with 15 strikeouts.

The lefty now leads the NL with 251 strikeouts -- a career high -- and lowered his career ERA to 1.61 against the Giants.

Twins winning the close ones
Late-season success is all about winning close games, and the Twins are making a habit of that lately.

Eight of the Twins' last nine wins have been by three runs or fewer, including Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the White Sox.

Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the second inning and held onto that narrow margin until the seventh, when Trevor Plouffe laced a two-run, two-out double to left.

Plouffe's clutch two-run double

While Plouffe's clutch hit gave the Twins some breathing room, Tommy Milone's seven scoreless innings -- his longest start since July 8 -- led the way.

"Obviously, it feels good," Milone said. "It's fun to pitch meaningful games in September. We're going through it right now and we just have to take it one game at a time and continue to build off it and keep it going."

The Twins have won three in a row and are keeping the pressure on the Rangers as Minnesota is just one game back for the second AL Wild Card slot.

Zimmerman leads Nationals to much-needed win
After losing the first two games of the series, the Nationals came away with a 4-3 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday.

After the Mets beat the Phillies, 9-4, earlier in the evening, the Nationals needed the win to keep the NL East deficit at 6 1/2 games.

September baseball is often littered with stories of players carrying their teams to victory, and on Wednesday, Ryan Zimmerman was the guy.

Zimmerman went 3-for-4 with two home runs, including the 200th of his career, but it was the timing of those hits that helped eke out the win.

Zim's two homers, three RBIs

All three of the first baseman's hits were go-ahead hits. Zimmerman put the Nationals on top with homers in the fourth and sixth and ultimately with the game-winning double in the eighth.

"Most importantly, it's a big win for us," Zimmerman said. "I'd rather not talk [about the hot streak]. I just want to keep going -- just come to the field and do the stuff I've been doing before the game, staying consistent, going with that approach, not try to do too much and hit the ball hard."

Other things to know
• After a rocky August, the Angels have won back-to-back games to start September. The Angels trail the Rangers by 3 1/2 games in the Wild Card race but will have plenty of opportunities to make up ground. The Angels still have seven games left against the Rangers, six games left against the division-leading Astros and four games remaining against the Twins, who are also ahead of the Angels in the Wild Card race.

• The Mets got back in the win column Wednesday, but it came with a price.

Daniel Murphy, who has been serving as the team's first baseman with Lucas Duda on the DL, left the game with left quad discomfort.

Murphy exits the game

The Mets do not believe the injury is serious, but if it is, the team has already shown an ability to overcome adversity this season.

"We hate to lose Murph, but we lost David [Wright] for a long time and we still came out of it OK," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

If the postseason began today ...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: Rangers at Yankees
Division Series: Wild Card at Royals, Astros at Blue Jays

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Wild Card: Cubs at Pirates
Division Series: Wild Card at Cardinals, Mets at Dodgers

2015 POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
AL Wild Card Game: Oct. 6
NL Wild Card Game: Oct. 7
AL Division Series begin: Oct. 8
NL Division Series begin: Oct. 9
NL Championship Series begins: Oct. 16
AL Championship Series begins: Oct. 17
World Series begins: Oct. 27

William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.