Game of clinches: Cubs, Jays in; Mets on cusp

Game of clinches: Cubs, Jays in; Mets on cusp

The Chicago Cubs are headed back to the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Cubs clinched at least a place in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser when the Giants lost to the A's on Friday night.

And three more teams -- the Blue Jays, Mets and Dodgers -- aren't far behind in their pursuits of October invitations. Toronto, in fact, has technically clinched a postseason berth based on the way the schedule shakes out the rest of the way. Each can secure an official place in the postseason today, with all the action for the final nine nail-biting days of the regular season available on MLB.TV for just $3.99.

Here's a further look at how Friday's slate of games impacted the postseason picture:

Cubs punch their ticket
Thanks to a little help from the A's, the Cubs were able to join Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the NL playoff field despite losing 3-2 to the Pirates.

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Unless the Pirates can challenge the Cardinals' three-game lead in the NL Central, Chicago and Pittsburgh will meet in the NL Wild Card Game on Oct. 7. What's still to be determined, however, is the location of that contest.

The Pirates are currently 4 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs for home-field advantage, while Chicago has secured a win in the season series and holds the tiebreaker should they finish the season with the same record.

"We both have something to play for," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Friday. "As baseball goes this time of year, that was pretty fun to watch."

Mets, Dodgers
Two more division champions are on the verge of being crowned, as the Dodgers and Mets can lock up the NL West and East, respectively, today.

The Mets, who beat the Reds, 12-5, on Friday, will send Matt Harvey to the mound in a potential NL East clincher as they try for a club-record 10th consecutive road victory. A win in Cincinnati or a Nationals loss to the Phillies will give New York its first division title since 2006.

The Dodgers need some help to secure their division title. They lost, 7-4, to the Rockies on Friday and have a magic number of two over the Giants, so they need both a win over Colorado and a San Francisco loss.

Once these two divisions are claimed, the matter of home-field advantage in a NL Division Series matchup must be settled. The Dodgers, who have nine games remaining, hold a half-game lead on the Mets, who have eight to play.

Jays get in

Based on the standings, the Blue Jays can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Rays or an Angels loss to Seattle. But based on the remaining schedules for the Halos, Astros and Rangers, only two of the three AL West contenders can finish 88-74. (The Angels and Texas currently have 74 losses, the same as Toronto.) If that result were to happen, one AL West team would win the division, another would win an AL Wild Card spot, and the third would be eliminated with at least 75 losses. Toronto is thus guaranteed of at least an AL Wild Card berth.

Angels threaten to supplant Astros in AL Wild Card
The Angels, on the outside looking in, continue their rise up the standings, climbing to within a half-game of the Astros for the second AL Wild Card spot with an 8-4 win against the Mariners on Friday.

The Angels have won six of their last eight games, with five of those wins coming against teams they're battling for a playoff berth, Houston and Minnesota. Both the Twins and Astros lost on Friday, further aiding the Halos' cause.

Houston's defeat came against the first-place Rangers, who are on solid ground in the AL West with a 4 1/2-game lead on the Astros. Texas has won 10 of its last 12 games and is a season-high 15 games over .500. The Astros, by contrast, have dropped eight of their last 11 games, and are 7-15 in September, tied with the A's for the worst record in the AL this month.

Other things to know
• The Indians shut out a Royals team that rested most of its regulars a day after clinching the AL Central. Carlos Carrasco no-hit Kansas City for 6 1/3 innings and recorded his first career one-hitter, striking out 15 in the 6-0 victory. Cleveland is three games behind the Astros in the AL Wild Card race.

• The Nationals, Cubs and Giants can all be eliminated from their respective division races on Saturday. Washington's elimination number is down to one, while San Francisco's and Chicago's stand at two. As the Nats and Giants are out of Wild Card contention, their eliminations would be from the postseason altogether.

If the postseason began today...

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

Wild Card: Cubs at Pirates
Division Series: Wild Card winner 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.