MLB postseason picture: Blue Jays clinch AL wild-card spot while NL gets wilder

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·Yahoo Sports Contributor
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We’ve reached the home stretch of Major League Baseball’s 60-game season and there’s a lot left to sort out. Every day between now and the start of the postseason we’ll keep you updated on all the latest developments.

The surprising Toronto Blue Jays have clinched a spot in American League playoffs.

With a 4-1 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday, the Blue Jays joined a loaded field that includes the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. It’s Toronto’s first postseason appearance since 2016 and only their third since winning back-to-back World Series in 1992-93.

The Blue Jays success has been shocking for a couple reasons. First and foremost, they didn’t get to play a true home game all season after Canadian officials ruled against them traveling in and out of Canada during the pandemic. The Blue Jays made Sahlen Field in Buffalo their home away from home.

Beyond that, the Blue Jays weren’t figured to be contenders just yet. The franchise has been in rebuild mode, but has developed quicker than expected. The young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio have all been contributors and supporting players like Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have made them a dangerous team.

The young Toronto Blue Jays clinched a wild card berth in the MLB playoffs with a win Thursday night. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
The young Toronto Blue Jays clinched a wild card berth in the MLB playoffs with a win Thursday night. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

The last remaining playoff spot in the AL figures to go to the Houston Astros when they clinch second place in the AL West. Their magic number heading into Thursday was two. The Blue Jays figure to be the No. 8 seed in the AL, which means they would meet the Rays in a best-of-three series.

Magic Number Countdown

ASTROS: The Astros walloped the Rangers on Thursday, bringing their magic number down to one. They need to beat the Rangers again Friday or need the Angels to lose to the Dodgers.

TWINS: The Twins are in the postseason, but they’d like to swoop in and take the AL Central crown too. They have a one-game lead over the White Sox after another Chicago loss and their magic number to win the Central is three.

CUBS: The Cubs remain in the driver’s seat in the NL Central. They lost Thursday and their magic number sits at three. The Cardinals won, so Chicago’s lead in the division is down to 2.5 games.

Key Races

NL CENTRAL: The Cardinals, Reds and Brewers are trying for second place and a playoff berth. The Cardinals own the spot now, but the Reds are a half-game back. The Brewers are two back.

NL EAST: Same situation in the NL East, where the Braves have the division locked up but the Marlins and Phillies are fighting over second place. The Marlins have a one-game lead.

NL WILD CARD: Combined with the races above, there are four open spots in the NL and six teams vying for them — because you can’t forget about the Giants. The Reds and Giants hold those wild-card spots, but it’s close. The Reds have a half-game lead over the Giants, who have a half-game lead over the Phillies, who have a half-game lead over the Brewers. Yep, the final weekend is going to be wild.

Games to Watch

Brewers at Cardinals (5:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. ET) — The Brewers and Cardinals play two on Friday with big postseason implications. If the Brewers want to sneak in, this is how they can do it.

Astros at Rangers (8:15 p.m. ET) — The Astros can complete the AL playoff field with another win in Arlington.

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