MLB postseason picture: Astros overcome Mike Trout heroics, maintain grip on AL West

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

September is upon us, which means every race in Major League Baseball is headed for the home stretch. Every game matters more than ever to the teams competing for a postseason spot. That’s why every night between now and the end of the regular season we’ll bring you an updated look at the MLB postseason picture.

For about 15 minutes we thought Mike Trout might be the story of the night in the postseason picture.

Yeah, we know, the Los Angeles Angels are nowhere near the postseason, but Trout nearly altered several scenarios with one swing on Saturday night.

Yeah, about that.

A few minutes later, the Angels bullpen happened and we were reminded why Mike Trout will be at more Philadelphia Eagles games than baseball games in October.

Credit too to the Houston Astros. They rebounded quickly from Trout’s three-run go-ahead home run in the eighth inning, rallying to score NINE runs in the bottom half.

When the dust settled, Houston won the game 10-5, and at least for one more day delayed Boston’s clinching of the No. 1 overall seed. More importantly, Houston held strong atop the AL West standings, keeping their 3.5 game lead heading into Sunday. Houston’s already clinched a postseason berth, and their Magic Number to clinch the division is five.

Houston Astros’ star Jose Altuve celebrates a key moment in his team’s huge comeback win against the Angels. (AP)
Houston Astros’ star Jose Altuve celebrates a key moment in his team’s huge comeback win against the Angels. (AP)

The state of MLB’s playoff races

• NL West: There was no significant movement atop the NL West standings. The Los Angeles Dodgers took care of business, handily dispatching the San Diego Padres, 7-1. The Colorado Rockies beat up again on the downtrodden and soon to be eliminated Arizona Diamondbacks, winning 5-1 in the desert. The Dodgers lead remains at 1.5 and their Magic Number is seven.

• NL Central: The Milwaukee Brewers really couldn’t afford a slip up in Pittsburgh. That’s exactly what happened Saturday, as they were shut out by the Pirates 3-0. The loss wiped out the game Milwaukee gained Friday. The Chicago Cubs were 8-3 victors against the Chicago White Sox, extending their division lead back to 2.5 games.

• NL East: Who would have figured the Atlanta Braves would be the first NL team to clinch a postseason berth? It happened with Saturday’s 5-3 win against the Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta is currently the NL’s No. 2 seed, but only trails Chicago by 2.5 games.

• NL Wild Card: There was much drama in the NL Wild Card. The Cardinals rallied late to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 5-4. St. Louis legend Yadier Molina tied the game with a two-run home run in the seventh inning. Then rookie Tyler O’Neill won it in extra innings with a walk-off blast. St. Louis moves to two games behind Milwaukee for the top NL Wild Card, while maintaining a 1.5 game lead over Colorado for the second.

• AL Wild Card: The New York Yankees watched the Boston Red Sox celebrate a division title on their field Thursday. On Saturday, it was the Yankees turn to pop the corks after clinching an AL Wild Card berth. The Yankees got in thanks to their 3-2 win against the Baltimore Orioles, and the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Magic Number Watch

• Oakland Athletics — 1: The A’s moved to the cusp of the postseason with a wild pitch walk-off win against the Minnesota Twins. All they need Sunday is a win or a Rays loss and they’re in the postseason.

Already clinched

• Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox clinched the AL East at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Talk about satisfaction. Now they’re one win away from locking up home-field advantage throughout the entire postseason and setting a franchise record with 106 wins.

• Cleveland Indians: The Indians already clinched their third straight AL Central title one week ago. The main goal now is to stay healthy, since they likely won’t catch Houston for the No. 2 seed.

If the playoff started tomorrow

Wild-card games: A’s at Yankees; Cardinals at Brewers

ALDS: Indians vs. Astros; Wild-card winner vs. Red Sox

NLDS: Dodgers vs. Braves; Wild-card winner vs. Cubs

Elimination Watch

We bid farewell to the Washington Nationals, who were eliminated thanks to the Cardinals dramatic win. The Seattle Mariners followed them out the door a short time later thanks to the A’s walk-off. The Mariners have missed the postseason 17 straight seasons, extending the longest drought in sports.

Sunday’s must-see game

We had two celebrations on Saturday. If you’re itching to see another, the only game that offers that opportunity is in Oakland. The A’s host the Twins in the series finale needing a win to clinch the fifth and final AL postseason berth. The A’s will send veteran Trevor Cahill (6-3, 3.77) against the Twins’ Kyle Gibson (8-13, 3.78).

Of course, the A’s might actually wrap that up before taking the field. That’s because a Rays loss also clinches their spot. Tampa Bay has Blake Snell (20-5, 1.97) going against Toronto’s Ryan Borucki (4-4, 3.86). We like the Rays chances there.

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