Key series for home-field advantage, NL Wild Card also get underway
By Manny Randhawa
With just four days remaining in the regular season and the postseason picture coming into focus, there are still races to be won and home-field advantage to be gained. The Red Sox eye their second consecutive American League East crown, which they could clinch with a victory tonight, coupled with a Yankees loss.
Meanwhile, the Indians and Astros continue to battle for the AL's best record, which would give one of them home-field advantage through the AL Championship Series. You can catch all of today's action on MLB.TV.
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Here's what to watch for today (all times Eastern):
Red Sox seek to clinch in possible postseason preview with Astros, HOU@BOS, 7:10 p.m.
The Red Sox can clinch their second straight AL East title, and third in the last five years, with a victory tonight at Fenway Park and a Yankees loss to the Rays. But Boston faces a hot team in the AL West-champion Astros, who are coming off a sweep of the Rangers and have won 11 of their last 14 games.
Right-hander Brad Peacock (12-2, 2.98 ERA), who hasn't faced Boston since 2014, is scheduled to take the ball for Houston. His counterpart will be 24-year-old left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6, 3.91 ERA), who appears to have pitched himself into Boston's postseason rotation.
The Astros' offense is red-hot, scoring 37 runs in their three-game sweep of Texas. Carlos Correa has led the way over the past two games, going 7-for-10 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. The Red Sox erupted for 10 runs of their own Wednesday to avoid a sweep by the Blue Jays. Xander Bogaerts led the offense, going 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs, extending his hit streak to six games.
Cards try to stay in Wild Card race while battling defending champs: CHC@STL, 7:15 p.m.
With their loss to the Cubs on Wednesday night, which clinched a second straight NL Central title for Chicago, the Cardinals' magic number for being eliminated from Wild Card contention reduced to 1. That makes tonight's contest against the Cubs a must-win.
Right-hander Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.47 ERA) will be on the mound for St. Louis coming off his worst start of the season; he was shelled by the Pirates for eight runs over two-thirds of an inning at PNC Park on Sunday.
The Cubs will counter with right-hander Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.14 ERA), who has pitched well since returning from a hand injury on July 24. In 12 starts over that span, he has a 2.34 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 18 walks in 73 innings.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.