MLB Postseason Picture: Rays keep rolling with third straight walk-off win

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 Tampa Bay Rays are a team on a mission.

Embroiled in a tense three-team battle with the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians over the American League’s two wild card spots, the Rays keep finding ways to win.

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Lately, it’s taken Tampa Bay longer than nine innings to do that. Saturday’s 5-4, 11-inning win against the Boston Red Sox was their third straight walk-off win at Tropicana Field, with each coming in 11 innings. This time, it was Nate Lowe who delivered a two-run home run.

The victory moves the Rays into sole possession of the AL’s second wild card. They’re up one game over the Indians, who lost 9-4 to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The A’s still have a two-game lead for the AL’s top wild card.

Nate Lowe and the Rays celebrated another huge victory. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Nate Lowe and the Rays celebrated another huge victory. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Here’s everything else you need to know the MLB postseason picture.

Magic Number Countdown

ASTROS: The Angels spoiled a Yankees clincher and now an Astros clincher in the same week. Houston’s magic number to clinch the AL West is still one.

TWINS: Despite a 12-5 loss to the Royals, Minnesota’s magic number to clinch the AL Central is down to four.

CARDINALS: Their magic number to clinch the NL Central is five.

NATIONALS: Though they’ve been eliminated in the NL East, Washington’s magic number to clinch a wild card berth is five.

Already clinched

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

YANKEES: The New York Yankees clinched their first AL East title since 2012 on Sept. 19.

BRAVES: The Atlanta Braves clinched their second straight NL East title on Sept. 20.

PLAYOFF BOUND: The Houston Astros have a clinched at least a wild card.

Key Races

NL CENTRAL: The Cardinals hit back-to-back ninth-inning home runs to beat the Cubs, 9-8. The Cubs are about finished in this race at six games back but the Brewers still have hope after their 10-1 beatdown of the Pirates. Milwaukee is three games back.

NL WILD CARD: The Nationals 10-4 win in Miami keeps them up a game on Milwaukee for the top wild card. The Brewers are up three games on Chicago for the second wild card. Though not yet eliminated, the Mets, Phillies and Diamondbacks would need everything to go their way in the final week.

AL CENTRAL: The Twins lead the Indians by four games with seven games left.

HOME FIELD: It’s a tight race for home field. The Astros have the best record in MLB at 101-54, but the Yankees are just one-half game behind at 101-55. In the NL, the Dodgers (99-56) magic number to clinch home-field throughout the NL playoffs is three.

Games to Watch

• Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays (1:10 p.m. ET) — Can the Rays make it four straight walk-off wins? More importantly, can they hold on to the second wild card?

• Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cleveland Indians (6:37 p.m. ET) — Bryce Harper spoiled the Indians Saturday with a three-run homer. Cleveland needs to bounce back on Sunday night.

Elimination Watch

• There were no eliminations on Saturday. Five more teams will have to go before the playoffs officially begin. The Arizona Diamondbacks are next in line to be ousted with an elimination number of three. The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets elimination number is four.

• 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, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox.

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