Next on Royals' radar: Home-field advantage

Next on Royals' radar: Home-field advantage

The first division has been claimed, as the Royals clinched the American League Central on Thursday, beating the Mariners, while the Twins lost to Cleveland.

Kansas City becomes the third team to lock up a playoff spot, joining the Cardinals and the Pirates in the National League. Several hotly contested spots remain, particularly in the American League Wild Card race, where five teams are separated by just four games in the standings.

Postseason contenders' remaining schedules

Here's a further look at how Thursday's games helped shape the postseason outlook:

Royals crowned AL Central champs
Kansas City took home the AL Central crown on Thursday, winning the team's first title since they finished atop the AL West in 1985, the same year it won the franchise's only World Series championship.

The Royals reached the postseason with a 10-4 win over the Mariners and Minnesota's 6-3 loss to the Indians. At 89 wins, Kansas City has already matched its win total from last season and is on pace for 94, the franchise's most since 1980 (97).

Now the Royals will turn their attention to home-field advantage throughout the postseason. They're currently two games ahead of the Blue Jays, with 10 games remaining in the regular season against the Indians, the Cubs, the White Sox and the Twins.

"We can't pack it in yet," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "We got to keep playing hard. We want that home-field advantage."

Cain's go-ahead two-run single

Cleveland making noise in Wild Card hunt
The AL Wild Card race remains as crowded as ever, as five clubs are vying for a spot opposite the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser. Two of those clubs went head-to-head on Thursday, when the Indians beat the Twins at Target Field.

The win snapped the Indians' four-game losing streak against Minnesota. Cleveland has now won 17 of its last 27 games to remain in Wild Card contention. The Tribe are four games back of the idle Astros, with the Orioles, the Angels and the Twins in between.

"We're trying to win as many games as we can," Lonnie Chisenhall said. "That hasn't changed from day one. You're trying to win every game, no matter what the circumstance. I know we've got a chance, and that's something to play for."

The Twins, meanwhile, are 1 1/2 games behind Houston, tied with the Angels. They have 10 games remaining, including four more against Cleveland and a three-game set at home against the Royals to close out the regular season.

Chisenhall's two-run single

Dodgers close in on division title
The Dodgers could join the Royals as division champions as soon as Saturday, after beating the Diamondbacks, 6-3, on Thursday while the Giants lost to the Padres. LA's magic number to clinch the NL West is now down to three.

The Dodgers have one final four-game series remaining against the Giants, beginning on Monday in San Francisco. The Giants may be out of playoff contention altogether before then, however. Their elimination number from the Wild Card stands at one behind the Cubs.

With Thursday's win, the Dodgers improved to 52-26 at Chavez Ravine this season. They have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Mets for home-field advantage in a potential Division Series matchup.

Heisey's grand slam

Other things to know
• Like the Dodgers, the Mets can also wrap up their division as early as Saturday. With a win over the Reds and Washington's loss to the Orioles, New York's magic number to clinch the NL East is at three.

• The Rangers defeated the A's, 8-1, improving to a season-best 14 games over .500. Their 3 1/2-game lead in the AL West is their largest division lead since August 2013.

• The Cardinals won, 7-3, against the Brewers at Busch Stadium. They've now won nine of their last 11 games and lead the Pirates by four games in the NL Central.

Peralta's three-run blast

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 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

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.