Postseason Picture for Friday, Sept. 26

Postseason Picture for Friday, Sept. 26

On Derek Jeter's night of nights, the Pulse of the Postseason also didn't miss a beat on Thursday. The Giants, who have run the table in October two of the past four seasons, are an official National League Wild Card. The Pirates have the Cardinals' full attention in the NL Central, St. Louis' lead whittled to one game. The Tigers and Royals both won, Detroit keeping its two-game American League Central lead. The Royals are one game ahead of the A's in the Wild Card race after Oakland lost in Texas on Adrian Beltre's walk-off homer in the ninth inning.

The Brewers are out of the NL Wild Card picture after a matinee loss in Cincinnati that rewarded the Giants hours before they took a swing at home against the Padres. The Mariners, salvaging one in Toronto, are hanging by a thread in the AL Wild Card chase, needing more help from Texas. The Athletics are trying to protect a two-game advantage over their AL West rivals from Seattle in the Wild Card hunt.

IF THE POSTSEASON STARTED TODAY ...

American League

Wild Card: A's at Royals

Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Tigers at Orioles

National League

Wild Card: Giants at Pirates

Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers

Postseason picture

The Angels, with the assistance of Jeter, own a three-game lead over the Orioles for the AL's best record and the prospect of home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Baltimore's 6-5 loss came courtesy of Jeter in his perfectly timed, perfectly fitting farewell to Yankee Stadium: a walk-off RBI single to the opposite field.

Splitting a doubleheader with the Mets, the Nationals are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers for best record in the NL and the potential reward of home-field advantage in the NL Championship Series. The Nats have another doubleheader set for Friday, against the Marlins, while the Dodgers finish at home against the Rockies.

Both Central division races are going down to the wire. The Tigers and Royals reach the season's final weekend in a duel to avoid the AL Wild Card, with the Motor City boppers perched in the driver's seat. The Cards have the one-game edge over the Pirates, who lead the Giants by one game in the NL Wild Card race for home-field advantage in the one-game playoff.

Lorenzo Cain's four hits and Eric Hosmer's homer and two singles drove the Royals in their 6-3 victory in Chicago. Max Scherzer claimed his 18th win in Detroit, with three innings of spotless relief anchored by closer Joe Nathan. Victor Martinez homered, doubled and singled, enhancing his candidacy for the AL Most Valuable Player Award. The favorite is Mike Trout, the heart and soul of the Angels.

The Pirates, thumping the Braves, 10-1, in Atlanta, move on to Cincinnati for a final series. Edinson Volquez worked seven scoreless innings, striking out 10, for his 13th win of a comeback campaign. Josh Harrison, with three hits, lifted his average to an NL-best .319. Andrew McCutchen, who had three RBIs, is third at .314. Sandwiched between the teammates is the Rockies' Justin Morneau at .317.

"We want to keep doing what we're doing, keep fighting," Volquez said. The soaring Bucs have won 17 of their past 21 games.

The Cards finish the regular season in Arizona against a D-backs outfit that has been out of contention for weeks. Pittsburgh would love to see Mark Trumbo and Co. inflict some damage on the St. Louis pitching staff in the desert.

Logan Morrison's two home runs powered the Mariners in a 7-5 victory at Toronto that kept alive their flickering hopes. They have three games left at home against the Angels, who are getting things in order for the AL Division Series.

"We're still in the ring, still fighting," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It's a good feeling. A lot of teams wish they were in our position. As dire as it may look, there are a lot of teams that wish they were in the Seattle Mariners' shoes right now. We're still in it and we're going to play hard and see what happens."

The Indians, three behind Oakland with three to go, need a Texas sweep and a sweep of their own at home against the Rays to stay alive.

Oakland's offensive woes continued in a 2-1 loss to Texas on Beltre's blast. The A's got a solid start from Jason Hammel but were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Colby Lewis and the Texas bullpen. The A's are 14-29 since Aug. 10.

The end of the road for the Brewers came in Cincinnati, where the Reds tattooed Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo for 10 hits in five innings and subdued the Brew Crew, 5-3. The Brewers spent 150 days in first place in the NL Central, leading the pack from April 5 to Aug. 31, but they didn't hold up in the final month in the always tough division.

"These games are the killers," manager Ron Roenicke said, the Brewers having contributed to their own demise with a pair of errors making two Reds runs unearned. "They're just hard to watch when you know you can win a game and you give it away."

TODAY'S KEY GAMES TO WATCH (all times ET)

Rays (Archer, 10-8) at Indians (Kluber, 17-9), 7:05 p.m. Preview

Two of the game's elite young right-handers face off with the Tribe trying to keep the beat going as long as possible.

Twins (Swarzak, 3-2) at Tigers (Porcello, 15-12), 7:08 p.m. Preview

The Tigers are trying to get their potentially lethal offense clicking on all cylinders as they gear up for another shot at World Series jewelry.

Pirates (Worley, 8-4) at Reds (Leake, 11-13), 7:10 p.m. Preview

The Bucs, the hottest outfit in the game, continue to press the Cardinals in the NL Central while building momentum for October.

Athletics (Kazmir, 14-9) at Rangers (Tepesch, 5-10), 8:05 p.m. Preview

A Wild Card isn't what they had in mind when they were tearing up the league with the Majors' best record for much of the season, but the A's will take what they can get at this point.

Royals (Guthrie, 12-11) at White Sox (Noesi, 8-11), 8:10 p.m. Preview

It has been so long since Kansas City tasted postseason play, thousands of college grads in town haven't experienced the feeling. The dynamic young Royals appear determined to write a memorable closing chapter or two.

Cardinals (Wacha, 5-6) at D-backs (Cahill, 3-12), 9:40 p.m. Preview

The Redbirds have no shortage of incentive with so much on the line, while the D-backs don't want anybody jumping in their pool again the way the Dodgers did last year.

MAGIC NUMBERS

To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.

AL East: Orioles clinched

AL Central: Tigers 2 over Royals

AL West: Angels clinched

AL Wild Card 1: Royals 2 over A's

AL Wild Card 2: A's 2 over Mariners

NL East: Nationals clinched

NL Central: Cardinals 3 over Pirates

NL West: Dodgers clinched

NL Wild Card 1: Pirates 2 over Giants

NL Wild Card 2: Giants clinched

Standings

TIEBREAKER SCENARIOS

A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.

If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.

Tiebreaker rules

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.