MLB Postseason Picture: Twins extend AL Central lead with dramatic 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 Minnesota Twins briefly lost their grip on the AL Central lead last month.

They’re determined to not let that happen again.

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Minnesota extended its rebuilt lead to 6.5 games over the Cleveland Indians with a dramatic 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

The victory was sealed when left fielder Eddie Rosario fielded a double off the Green Monster at Fenway Park cleanly, and then fired a strike home to cut down the tying run for the game’s final out.

Overall, it was a pretty good day for division leaders. All four that were in action were victorious. Here’s how their success impacted the MLB postseason picture.

Magic Number Countdown

DODGERS: Only an off day could keep the Dodgers from lowering their magic number again. The Arizona Diamondbacks were off as well, keeping L.A.'s magic number to clinch the NL West at four.

NEXT UP: The New York Yankees’ magic number to clinch the AL East is 12. The Houston Astros knocked their AL West magic number down to 14, while the Atlanta Braves magic number to clinch the NL East is 15.

THE REST: The Twins’ win coupled with an Indians loss dropped Minnesota’s magic number to clinch the AL Central to 16. The St. Louis Cardinals’ magic number to clinch the NL Central is 21.

The Minnesota Twins topped the Boston Red Sox on a thrilling final out at home plate. (Getty Images)
The Minnesota Twins topped the Boston Red Sox on a thrilling final out at home plate. (Getty Images)

Key Races

AL WILD CARD: The Tampa Bay Rays held the top spot with a 6-4 win against the Blue Jays, while the A’s stayed one-half game back, thanks to their 10-6 victory against the Angels. The Indians fell to one-game back of the second spot with a 7-1 loss to the White Sox.

NL CENTRAL: The Cardinals and Cubs both took care of business. St. Louis with a 10-0 win against the Giants. Chicago with a 10-5 win against the Brewers. The Cardinals maintain a 2.5-game lead over the Cubs, while the Brewers fall to seven games back.

NL WILD CARD: The Cubs’ win, coupled with the Nationals 4-2 loss in Atlanta, moves Chicago to within two games of the first NL wild card. Chicago’s lead for the second wild card is 3.5 games over Arizona and four games over Philadelphia.

Games to Watch

• Yankees at Red Sox (7:10 p.m. ET) — The Yankees won't be able to clinch a division title this weekend in Boston. However, they will have an opportunity to stick a fork in the Red Sox’s season. Boston enters the weekend 6.5 games back in the wild card. A couple of Yankees wins should just about do it for them.

• Indians at Twins (8:10 p.m. ET) — When these teams played at Target Field in August, Cleveland won three of four to draw even with Minnesota in the standings. This weekend will tell us if the Indians can make another run.

Elimination Watch

• There were no eliminations on Thursday. The Chicago White Sox (four) and Colorado Rockies (six), Los Angeles Angels (seven) and Texas Rangers (nine) are the teams with single-digit elimination numbers.

• Teams whose postseason dreams are already over include: Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins.

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