One down, nine to go. The Angels became the first team in the Major Leagues to clinch a postseason berth when they beat the Mariners, 8-1, in Anaheim on Monday night. They have a magic number of three to win the American League West. Meanwhile, the Nationals got closer, winning in Atlanta to cut their magic number in the National League East to two. A win Tuesday over the Braves on Tuesday and they're in. And the Orioles' number to clinch the AL East is down to one, which they can accomplish on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
Got all that? Good. Because those are the obvious ones. The rest of the picture is still a bit muddled, especially in the AL Central and AL Wild Card races. The Royals did what they had to do in a big way on Monday, though, rallying in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk off with an improbable 4-3 win over the White Sox. Now Kansas City is still 1 1/2 games behind Detroit, which won Monday, in the AL Central, and two games up on Seattle for the second Wild Card slot. Idle Oakland remains in the first AL Wild Card position, a game up on the Royals.
In the NL, the Nationals got very close to clinching while the Dodgers inched nearer to that goal in the West. Los Angeles won big against Colorado while San Francisco lost to Arizona, giving the Dodgers a four-game division lead. Otherwise, all three of the NL Central contenders (St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee) did not play Monday.
IF THE POSTSEASON STARTED TODAY ...
Wild Card: Royals at A's
Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Tigers at Orioles
Wild Card: Pirates at Giants
Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers
TODAY'S KEY GAMES TO WATCH (all times ET)
Blue Jays (Hutchison, 10-11) at Orioles (Jimenez, 4-9), 7:05 p.m.
Baltimore signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a lucrative contract and he hasn't lived up to it yet, but he can make up for some of it here if he pitches his team to a win to clinch the AL East.
Nationals (Roark, 13-10) at Braves (Harang, 11-10), 7:10 p.m.
Tanner Roark has been a huge factor in the Nationals' rotation this year, and he can log a memorable win in this game. Washington will clinch the NL East with a victory.
White Sox (Bassitt, 0-1) at Royals (Hendriks, 1-2), 8:10 p.m.
The Royals will probably prefer to get the lead early and put the pressure on the young and inexperienced White Sox starter. They need to win to stay on the heels of Detroit in the AL Central race with the games running out.
Tigers (Porcello, 15-11) at Twins (Nolasco, 5-11), 8:10 p.m.
Detroit has been taking care of business lately against lesser teams. They'll rely on Rick Porcello to keep that going with the Royals not giving an inch in the AL Central.
Brewers (Peralta, 16-10) at Cardinals (Lynn, 15-9), 8:15 p.m.
The Brewers enter this series five games behind St. Louis in the Central and 1 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the second Wild Card slot in the NL. That says it all about how important this game is.
Mariners (Elias, 10-12) at Angels (Rasmus, 3-1), 10:05 p.m. Preview
The Mariners are not out of it, but they need a win here in a bad way after looking offensively stagnant the last three games. Cory Rasmus has been excellent for the Angels and should prove tough to beat.
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.