Indians surging into Wild Card picture

Indians surging into Wild Card picture

The Indians have quietly played their way back into postseason contention, adding further intrigue to a crowded race for the second American League Wild Card spot.

But Cleveland isn't the only club making a late push up the standings. Here's a look at some key developments from Friday's action that helped shape the playoff picture:

Indians gain ground on Astros
The Indians continue to hang around in the race for the second AL Wild Card, slugging their way to a 12-1 rout of the White Sox to move within three games of the Astros, who fell to the A's, 4-3.

With the victory, Cleveland improved to 15-7 over its past 22 games and moved back to .500 (73-73). The Tribe trails the Astros (77-71) by just two games in the loss column. Much of the Indians' recent success can be traced to their play at Progressive Field, where they have won 15 of their past 20 games.

"We have a lot of younger players, hungry to play hard every day," Indians first baseman Carlos Santana said. "We have to play hard every day. We'll try to finish strong and see what happens. I know we're fighting for the second Wild Card. This is what I'm telling the younger players: 'Play hard. Don't worry about the second Wild Card. Try to win the game.'"

Cubs deny Cardinals

The Cubs beat the Cardinals, 8-3, in the opener of a key three-game series at Wrigley Field to prevent St. Louis from becoming the first team in the Majors to clinch a postseason berth.

Must C: Castro goes deep twice

The Cardinals can still lock down a playoff spot Saturday, either by beating the Cubs, or having the Giants lose to the D-backs.

The Cubs have won four in a row to move within one game of the Pirates for the top NL Wild Card spot. Chicago now trails the first-place Cardinals by six games in the Central.

Blue Jays pad division lead

The Blue Jays beat the Red Sox, 6-1, to increase their lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games over the second-place Yankees, who lost an Interleague matchup to the Mets, 5-1.

Toronto, riding a three-game win streak, lowered its magic number to clinch the division to 12 games over the Yankees. The Jays also cut their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to seven games over the Twins, and could do so as early as Tuesday.

Smoak's two-run double

The Yankees meanwhile, maintained a four-game lead over the Astros for the top AL Wild Card spot.

Other things to know

• The Royals lost in extra innings to the Tigers, 5-4, to keep their magic number to clinch the AL Central (and a playoff spot) at six games over the Twins. Kansas City could clinch its second straight playoff berth as early as Tuesday.

• With their win over the Yankees in the Subway Series, the Mets reduced their magic number to win the NL East (and clinch a playoff spot) to eight games over the Nationals, who walked-off the Marlins, 5-4, in 10 innings. The Mets can clinch a postseason berth as early as Tuesday.

• Despite a 3-1 loss to the Mariners, the Rangers maintained their 2 1/2 game lead in the AL West over the second-place Astros. The Rangers also saw their magic number to clinch the division reduced to 13, by virtue of Houston's loss.

• The Dodgers beat the Pirates, 6-2, as their magic number to clinch the NL West (and a playoff spot) dropped to eight games over the Giants, who were blanked by the D-backs, 2-0.

If the postseason began today ...

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

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.