Angels, Twins gain ground in Wild Card

Angels, Twins gain ground in Wild Card

With a 13-7 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night, for the third consecutive season, the Pirates clinched a playoff berth. The Pirates and Cardinals are the only two teams to have secured playoff spots so far, but plenty of other teams are closing in.

Here's a look at how Wednesday's games impacted the postseason picture:

AL showing its Wild side
Courtesy of David Freese's two-run double and Carlos Perez's go-ahead single, the Angels scored three runs in the eighth inning and topped the Astros, 6-5, on Wednesday.

The Angels took two of three from the Astros in Houston this week, and they are now just 1 1/2 games back for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"We're still a game and a half back, so we're not counting anything," Angels closer Huston Street said. "But the difference between being a game and a half back and 3 1/2 back is pretty serious."

Perez's RBI single

The loss drops the Astros to just 3-7 over the past 10 games

"They're all tough at this time of year," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're scratching and clawing, trying to find ways to be one-up at the end, if not more. We've taken a few body blows this month, and we'll respond favorably, we always have. But that doesn't make tonight any easier, but we'll dust ourselves off. We have a big series ahead and we need to play well to win."

The Astros' loss also opened up the door for the Twins to pick up some ground, and Minnesota took full advantage of the opportunity.

The Twins topped the Indians, 4-2, and are now within a game of the Astros for the second Wild Card spot.

"We picked up a couple games in a couple days, and we're even in the loss column, so we're back to having a chance," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

Toronto makes a statement
After losing in extra-innings on Tuesday, the Blue Jays came back and beat the Yankees, 4-0, on Wednesday.

Russell Martin's three-run homer in the seventh inning broke open the game, as the Blue Jays took two of three from the Yankees, and increased their lead in the AL East to 3 1/2 games. The Blue Jays are also a game and a half behind the Royals for the best record in the AL.

Martin's three-run tater

Toronto's magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three, and for the club to win its first division title since 1993, the magic number is eight.

The series loss puts a damper on the Yankees chances of winning the division, but thanks to Houston's loss, the Yankees still have a four-game lead in the Wild Card standings.

"We have to play extremely well [to win the division]," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They're very good, and they've played well. You look at what they've done in the second half -- we're going to have to be almost perfect."

Pirates clinch, National League Central/Wild Card still up for grabs
The Pirates, courtesy of a 13-7 win over the Rockies, know they are postseason bound once again, but it still remains to be seen what spot they will take, and who they will be playing.

Securing a spot in October was the Pirates' first goal, but the team still has eyes on winning the NL Central.

The Cardinals beat the Reds, 10-2, on Wednesday, and they maintain a four-game lead in the division. St. Louis' magic number to clinch the division sits at seven. The Cardinals and Pirates meet in Pittsburgh for a pivotal three-game series next week.

Pirates clinch postseason berth

"I feel our best baseball is ahead of us," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I've said that all season and still believe it. Just the mix of everything we know we can do, put it together for a long period of time. I think it's ahead."

While the Pirates are busy trying to catch the Cardinals, they will also need to keep an eye on the Cubs.

Chicago lost, 4-1, to the Brewers on Wednesday to drop to three games back in the Wild Card standings. The Pirates travel to Wrigley for a three-game set this weekend.

If the Pirates and Cubs finish the season with the same record, the Wild Card game will be played at Wrigley Field because the Cubs have already won the season series.

Other things to know
- The Nationals missed an opportunity to gain ground on the Mets as both teams lost Wednesday. The Mets have a 6 1/2 game lead in the NL East and their magic number has dropped to five. The loss didn't hurt the Mets in the NL East standings, but they did fall to a game and a half behind the Dodgers in the race for home field in the NLDS.

- The Rangers extended their AL West lead to three games, and they are on the verge of winning their division for the first time since taking the top position back-to-back in 2010 and '11.

If the postseason began today ...

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

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

AL Wild Card Game: Oct. 6
NL Wild Card Game: Oct. 7
AL Division Series start: Oct. 8
NL Division Series start: 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 Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.