Indians (22 straight wins), Astros closing in on division crowns
By Chad Thornburg
The Indians extended their historic winning streak in dramatic fashion Thursday, walking off against the Royals in the 10th inning for a narrow 3-2 victory. Cleveland's 22nd consecutive win -- an American League record and the second-longest streak in MLB history behind the 1916 New York Giants' 26 -- lowered its magic number to clinch the AL Central to three over the Twins.
The Astros also saw their magic number drop to three in the AL West with a 5-2 victory against the second-place Angels. Both Cleveland and Houston could be popping champagne to celebrate division titles as soon as Saturday.
Here's how the rest of Thursday's action impacted the postseason picture:
The Indians (91-56) are just 3 1/2 games behind the Dodgers (94-52), who were off Thursday, for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Throughout the course of their streak, which began Aug. 24, the Tribe has gone from third place to first in the AL home-field race, vaulting past the Red Sox and Astros.
AL Wild Card
Minnesota won its third straight game, and second in a row on a walk-off, narrowly besting the Blue Jays for a 3-2 win in extras. Byron Buxton was the hero in this one, delivering a two-out homer in the 10th inning. The Twins have a three-game lead for the AL's second Wild Card spot, with six teams contending below them within 5 1/2 games in the standings.
The Mariners beat another Wild Card contender Thursday with a 10-4 win over the Rangers. Seattle has won three straight, outscoring Texas, 28-8, in that span, to stay within 3 1/2 games of the Twins.
"The offense is really driving the car right now," Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
The rest of the field didn't fare as well Thursday as the Angels (three games back), Royals (five) and Orioles (5 1/2) each lost to the Astros, Indians and Yankees, respectively.
NL Wild Card
The D-backs strengthened their hold on the NL's top Wild Card spot with a second consecutive win over the Rockies. The win put Arizona back where it was prior to splitting this four-game series at Chase Field, five games ahead of Colorado for home-field advantage in the NL Wild Card Game. The Cardinals and Brewers are tied 2 1/2 games behind the Rockies at 75-68.
"I know that there are a few teams that are right there, right on out heels," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "It's not just the Rockies that we're concerned about in the standings. But we placed all that aside at the right time of the day to go out and execute. We're not paralyzed by what's going on around us. I'm happy that these guys are eliminating the noise."
The Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the Mets with a 14-6 win at Wrigley Field. Chicago's modest three-game streak has the club holding a three-game advantage over the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Central. The Brewers were off Thursday, but the Cardinals kept pace with a 5-2 win over the last-place Reds. St. Louis has now won 11 of its last 14 games.
"A lot of guys in the clubhouse continued to fight and tried to better themselves every day to get us in that position," Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham said. "But we have to take it one series at a time, because this ballclub over here [the Reds], they have one of the best lineups in baseball, top to bottom."
The AL East race remained static, as both the Red Sox and Yankees won Thursday. Boston beat the A's, 6-2, while New York picked up its 80th win with a 13-5 rout of the Wild Card-hopeful Orioles. The Yankees still trail the Red Sox by three in the division, while holding a three-game lead over the Twins for the first Wild Card spot.
If the postseason began today...
AMERICAN LEAGUE Wild Card: Twins at Yankees Division Series: Wild Card at Indians, Red Sox at Astros
NATIONAL LEAGUE Wild Card: Rockies at D-backs Division Series: Wild Card at Dodgers, Cubs at Nationals
2017 POSTSEASON SCHEDULE AL Wild Card Game (1-game playoff): Oct. 3 NL Wild Card Game (1-game playoff): Oct. 4 AL Division Series begins (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format): Oct. 5 NL Division Series begins (best-of-5, 2-2-1 format): Oct. 6 AL Championship Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 13 NL Championship Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format):Oct. 14 World Series begins (best-of-7, 2-3-2 format): Oct. 24
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.