Key West: Astros, Angels deliver crucial wins

Key West: Astros, Angels deliver crucial wins

Major League Baseball's 162-game grind is winding to a close and the drama of postseason play is almost here. Division leaders and Wild Card teams are solidifying their October positions, but there's still some intrigue in store, and maybe a surprise or two along the way when it comes to the standings.

Here's a look at some key developments from Sunday's action that helped shape the playoff picture:

The wild, wild (AL) West and the wild, (AL) Wild Card
The Astros came up big over the weekend, winning a pair over the Rangers to cut Texas' AL West lead to 2 1/2 games. The Astros' hold on the lead for the second AL Wild Card berth is tenuous at best, however.

Keuchel fans Napoli for record

The Angels did what they had to do, too, winning two at home against the Mariners to stay within a half-game of Houston for the second Wild Card slot in the American League. More >

"We're starting to become the team that we were in the beginning of the year and the team that we were in the All-Star break when we were in first place," Angels starter Garrett Richards said. "Everybody's kind of feeding off each other; we have a good energy going on. We're just trying to win every game; that's all we can do."

The Twins are of the same mindset, and they took care of the Tigers to stay another game behind the Angels. The Indians lost to Kansas City on Sunday and are four back, but Cleveland starts the week against the Twins, so it can make up ground quickly.

Mets rolling into October
The Mets beat the Reds, 8-1, on Sunday, and finished off a week in which they clinched the NL East with a tidy four-game winning streak and a 1 1/2-game lead on the Dodgers for home-field advantage in the two teams' likely upcoming NL Division Series matchup.

In other words, there's a really good vibe in Queens right now, and the team will try to keep playing well, while looking forward to playing against Los Angeles.

deGrom's strong start

"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Mets starter Jacob deGrom said of the first-round matchup. "I think it will be fun. I think everybody in here is looking forward to that."

NL Central race still not decided
The Pirates lost to the Cubs on Sunday night to snap an eight-game winning streak and the Cardinals dropped one to Milwaukee during the afternoon. That means St. Louis holds a three-game lead in the NL Central, entering the final six games of the season. More >

Cole on playoffs, playing Cards

Things could turn quickly starting Monday, with the Cardinals and Pirates set to face each other in a three-game series that begins at PNC Park.

Other things to know
• The Royals shut out the Indians on Sunday and the Blue Jays held serve against the Rays, so the AL Central champs and the likely AL East kingpins kept identical season records. The team with the better mark at the end of the 162-game slate will earn home-field advantage in the postseason. If they finish tied, Toronto gets home field because the Jays won the season series between the teams, 4-3.

Hosmer on home-field advantage

• The Dodgers dropped a 9-4 decision to the Rockies on Sunday and will be looking to rebound this week to regain home-field advantage over the Mets. First they'll have to win one game in a four-game set in San Francisco to wrap up the NL West. Los Angeles would love to have aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke lined up for Games 1 and 2 against the Mets in the late-afternoon shadows at Dodger Stadium.

• The Cubs' win over the Pirates on Sunday didn't change the likely setting for a Wild Card game between the two teams, which still would be Pittsburgh, but the dominance of Jake Arrieta against the Pirates (perfect game until the seventh inning, home run at the plate) could give Chicago momentum going into that game, assuming Arrieta would get the ball.

Must C: Arrieta blasts home run

If the postseason began today ...
AMERICAN LEAGUE
Wild Card: Astros at Yankees
Division Series: Wild Card at Blue Jays, Rangers at Royals

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

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

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.