Five things you need to know about baseball’s postseason picture

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

Note: We're counting down the final days of the MLB regular season — five more — and each day we're giving you a list of important points about the postseason picture, which is getting more exciting by the day.

1. The Tigers are in. With their 4-2 win on Tuesday, the Detroit Tigers clinched at least a spot in the AL postseason. They'll lock up the AL Central division title with another win on Wednesday, or a loss by the Cleveland Indians. If not for Jason Giambi's dramatic game-winner for the Tribe on Tuesday, the Tigers would already be AL Central champs. But don't fret, Tigers, it'll happen.

2. The Yankees are toast. It's admirable that the Yankees, given everything they've dealt with this season, are still in contention with five days left in the season. But now they find themselves one game away from elimination. If this cruel season goes as it has for the Yankees, it'll happen Wednesday, which is also Charlie Brown bobblehead day. Fitting, because this sums up 2013 for the Yankees pretty well. Just needs a bit more A-Rod.

3. The Rangers wish they could play the Astros every day. Before their three-game series started Monday with the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers' postseason dreams had been getting clobbered. They were 3-7 in their previous 10 games and sliding out of a Wild Card spot. They've enjoyed baseball version of a siesta the last two days, though, winning a pair from Houston, with hopes of a third on Wednesday. The Rangers are 16-2 this season against the horrible Astros, the worst record Houston has against any team they've played more than three times. The Rangers could pull even in the Wild Card standings with a win and an Indians loss. The Rangers then have four games against the Los Angeles Angels to finish the season. Good news there for the Rangers too. They're 11-4 against those Anaheim boys this season.

4. It would be good for the Cardinals if they kept winning. The Cards are 7-3 in their last 10, including that near no-hitter on Tuesday night. They've built a bit of a cushion on top of the NL Central. With four games left (one Wednesday against the Washington Nationals and three against the Chicago Cubs), Mike Matheny's bunch could help themselves by just winning every game, a very do-able task. The Cards could clinch the NL Central, of course, but they could also make a run at the best record in the NL and the home-field advantage that comes with it. They're a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves for that distinction going into Wednesday's games. Getting home-field away from the Braves is important. Atlanta is 53-23 at home, but only 40-41 on the road.

5. The Rays are looking better by the day. Their magic number to lock up a Wild Card spot is four, and they're a game ahead of the Indians in the Wild Card standings, which means if the playoffs started today, they'd host the single-elimination game. The Rays — winners of five in a row — play the Yankees on Wednesday (see No. 2 on the list) and then have three games against the Toronto Blue Jays, against whom they are 10-6 this season.

Want more? Full standings here and current scores here.

Pennant races are here. Spend the stretch run with us.
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