MLB Postseason Picture: Astros clinch playoff berth with 100th win of season

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor

It’s September, so the baseball games matter a little more. That’s why every day between now and the start of the postseason we’ll keep you updated on baseball’s postseason picture.

The Houston Astros checked off two boxes with one win on Wednesday.

By defeating the Texas Rangers, 3-2, the Astros became the first team to reach 100 wins in MLB this season. More importantly, they guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason.

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It’s the third straight season Houston has reached the century mark in victories. It will also be their third straight postseason appearance. Houston is the first American League team to wrap up a playoff spot and the third team overall, joining the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves from the National League.

Now the Astros will aim to make it back-to-back-to-back AL West titles. They will enter a weekend matchup with the Los Angeles Angels with a magic number of two to clinch the division.

The Astros won behind Gerrit Cole, who became their first pitcher since Mike Scott in 1986 to reach 300 strikeouts in a season. He’s the first MLB pitcher to reach that mark in 2019.

Here’s a deeper look at the postseason picture.

Magic Number Countdown

YANKEES: The Yankees magic number to clinch the AL East is still one after losing 3-2 to the Angels.

BRAVES: Despite a 4-1 loss to the Phillies, the Braves magic number to clinch the NL East is down to two.

THE REST: The Minnesota Twins magic number to clinch the AL Central is 7. The St. Louis Cardinals magic number to clinch the NL Central is 9.

ALREADY CLINCHED: The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their seventh straight NL West title on Sept. 10.

Key Races

AL WILD CARD: The A’s beat the Royals 2-1 in 11 innings thanks to Mark Canha’s walk-off single. Oakland holds the top wild card by two games over the Rays, who rallied to beat the Dodgers 8-7 in 11 innings. The Indians also won on a Yaisel Puig walk-off single, topping the Tigers 2-1. Cleveland is half a game behind the Rays for the second wild card.

NL CENTRAL: The Cardinals avoided a sweep by beating the Nationals 5-1. Then they sat back and watched the Cubs and Brewers lose home games to the Reds and Padres respectively. St. Louis will take a three-game lead over both teams into four-game weekend series at Wrigley Field.

NL WILD CARD: The Nationals, Cubs and Brewers lost, which means Washington still leads the wild card by 1.5. The Cubs and Brewers remained tied for the second wild card, with the Mets and Phillies both hanging around at 3.5 games back.

AL CENTRAL: The Twins still can't quite shake the Indians. Minnesota's 3-1 loss to the White Sox, coupled with Cleveland's win narrows the division lead to four games.

Games to Watch

• Los Angeles Angels vs. New York Yankees (12:10 p.m. ET) — The Yankees needed a win or a Rays loss on Wednesday to clinch the AL East. Neither happened. They’ll get another shot to do it themselves in Thursday’s series finale.

• St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs (7:15 p.m. ET) — Here we go. This is the first of seven meetings between the Cardinals and Cubs over the season's final 11 days. Not only will these games play a role in deciding the NL Central, they will also factor into determining one, if not both NL wild cards.

Elimination Watch

• There were no eliminations on Wednesday. The Boston Red Sox have an elimination number of one, meaning their disappointing World Series title defense is nearing its conclusion. The San Francisco Giants are close behind with an elimination number of three.

• Teams whose postseason dreams are already over: Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres

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