Postseason spots still up for grabs in final 5 days
By Andrew Simon
With the regular season winding down, much remained at stake on Tuesday. At this point, every game involving a contender carries huge implications, as the chase for Wild Card berths and home-field advantage continues.
After losing ground with a loss to the Yankees on Monday, the Blue Jays rebounded on Tuesday night against their closest challenger. Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 over six strong innings, and Josh Donaldson provided a first-inning lead with a two-run homer as the Jays beat the Orioles, 5-1, in the opener of a three-game series at Rogers Centre. That widened Toronto's lead to two games over Baltimore for the first AL Wild Card berth and home field in the Wild Card Game.
It also was a good night for the Tigers. With the Indians having clinched the AL Central title the night before, Detroit rolled past Cleveland, 12-0, behind Justin Verlander's seven scoreless innings and Miguel Cabrera's five RBIs. That pulled the Tigers within a game of the Orioles for the second Wild Card berth.
Meanwhile, Seattle could not keep pace with Detroit. After taking Monday's series opener in Houston, the Mariners fell, 8-4, on Tuesday and remained two games behind the Orioles. The Astros are now 2 1/2 games back, but with three teams still ahead of them.
National League Wild Card
It was quite a night to be a hitter on any of the contenders in this race. In Miami, the Mets scored 12 runs to blow out the Marlins. In St. Louis, the Cardinals scored 12 runs and slammed five homers to overpower the Reds. And in San Francisco, the Giants scored -- you guessed it -- a dozen runs to pull away from the Rockies.
The end result was that the standings didn't budge, with the Mets leading the Giants by a half-game for the first Wild Card spot and the Giants holding a one-game edge over St. Louis for the second.
American League home-field advantage
In a close race for the top seed in the AL, the Rangers jumped over the Red Sox by a matter of percentage points. A 6-4 win over the Brewers put Texas at 93-65 (.589), tied in the loss column with the Red Sox (92-65), who dropped a 6-4 decision at Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, Cleveland's shutout loss to Detroit pushed it 1 1/2 games behind Texas and one behind Boston.
The end of Boston's 11-game win streak, combined with Texas' victory, means the Rangers currently are on track to have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. However, the Sox still would be in line to host Cleveland in the AL Division Series.
National League home-field advantage
The Cubs, who already locked up home field in the NLDS and NLCS, continued to roll along by picking up their 101st victory, beating Pittsburgh.
In the race to host the other NLDS, the Nationals widened their lead over the Dodgers to two games. Washington rallied for a 4-2 win over the D-backs, while Los Angeles -- which holds the tiebreaker between the teams -- fell at San Diego, 7-1.
If the postseason began today …
Wild Card: Orioles at Blue Jays
Division Series: Wild Card at Rangers, Indians at Red Sox
Wild Card: Giants at Mets
Division Series: Wild Card at Cubs, Dodgers at Nationals
2016 POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
AL Wild Card Game: Oct. 4
NL Wild Card Game: Oct. 5
AL Division Series begins: Oct. 6
NL Division Series begins: Oct. 7
AL Championship Series begins: Oct. 14
NL Championship Series begins: Oct. 15
World Series begins: Oct. 15
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.