Road to the Postseason: Sept. 26

Cubs on verge of clinching NL Central; Tribe secures ALDS home-field

Road to the Postseason: Sept. 26

The final week of regular-season action began Monday with two divisions and two Wild Card spots still unclaimed. After defeating the Cardinals in St. Louis on Monday, the Cubs are on the verge of wrapping up the National League Central with their magic number to clinch down to one.

Here's a look at how the rest of Monday's action impacted the playoff picture:

Home-field advantage
The Indians secured home-field advantage in the American League Division Series with Boston's loss to the Blue Jays on Monday. Cleveland, which has won 29 of its last 31 games, is leading the Astros by two games for home-field throughout the AL playoffs. The Tribe can clinch the league's top seed as early as Wednesday with any combination of wins and Astros losses totaling four.

The best record in baseball is also within reach for the Tribe, which trails the Dodgers by 1 1/2 games for home-field through the World Series. Should they finish tied in the standings, the Dodgers own the tie-breaker, having won the lone series the clubs played this season in June.

American League Wild Card
The Twins didn't play Monday but still managed to extend their lead for the second AL Wild Card spot with the Angels' 4-2 loss to the White Sox in Chicago. The Angels' postseason hopes are quickly fading with their elimination number down to two behind Minnesota.

"We're in a tough spot, but that's why we play until Oct. 1," Angels left fielder Justin Upton said. "All we can do is try to play our best baseball for these last six games and see what happens."

Behind the Halos, the Royals, Rays and Rangers are all tied at six games back of the Twins with an elimination number of one. Minnesota's next win will knock all three out of postseason contention.

NL Central
The Cubs eliminated the Cardinals from the NL Central race with a 10-2 win at Busch Stadium. Chicago can now repeat as division champions on Tuesday with a win or Brewers loss to the Reds.

NL Wild Card
The Cardinals' division hopes were dashed, but they're still alive in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot, trailing the Rockies by 2 1/2 games for the second spot. Colorado lost to the Marlins, 5-4, at Coors Field on Monday, allowing the idle Brewers to move to 1 1/2 games back. The D-backs have already clinched home-field in the Wild Card Game.

Based on head-to-head records, the Rockies own the tiebreaker vs. the Brewers, but not the Cardinals, meaning if Milwaukee and Colorado finish tied for the second Wild Card spot, the tiebreaker game would be at Coors Field on Oct. 2. The Brewers lead the season series against the Cardinals, 9-7, with three games remaining between the clubs in St. Louis to close the regular season.

AL East
Aaron Judge slugged his 49th and 50th home runs, establishing a new MLB rookie record, as the Yankees beat the Royals, 11-3, in the Bronx. New York's win combined with Boston's loss kept the Red Sox's magic number to clinch the AL East at three. The Yankees trail Boston by four games.

If the postseason began today...

Wild Card: Twins at Yankees
Division Series: Wild Card at Indians, Red Sox at Astros

Wild Card: Rockies at D-backs
Division Series: Wild Card at Dodgers, Cubs at Nationals

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 based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.