A couple of quests were on the verge of being fulfilled after Friday’s results. The Yankees won to lower their magic number for clinching an American League wild-card berth to two. And the Atlanta Braves prevailed and will clinch the National League East if they beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.
Another issue was put to rest, as the Houston Astros, who lead the A.L. West, won to assure themselves a postseason berth.
Here is where the various competitive playoff races stood after all of Friday’s games:
National League Wild Card
The Milwaukee Brewers came into Friday with a three-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the top position, while the Cardinals had a one-and-a-half-game lead over the Colorado Rockies for the second spot. The Arizona Diamondbacks were five games behind St. Louis, and the Philadelphia Phillies were five and a half games back.
On Friday night, Matt Adams’s two-run pinch double in the eighth inning gave the host Cardinals a 5-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants as St Louis kept pace with the Brewers, who won in Pittsburgh, 8-3, behind a six-run sixth inning. The Phillies hurt their cause, giving up five runs in the seventh inning of a 6-5 loss at Atlanta. Ozzie Albies’s two-run homer helped fuel the Braves’ rally. The Rockies kept pace with the Cardinals with a 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks, with German Marquez striking out 11 over 7 innings. The loss dropped Arizona six games behind St. Louis.
National League Central
The Chicago Cubs led the Brewers by two and a half games going into Friday’s games.
The Cubs, without shortstop Addison Russell, who was put on administrative leave, missed a good opportunity to close in on the division title. They lost by 10-4 on Friday afternoon to the host Chicago White Sox, which began the day with 29 fewer victories. Reynaldo Lopez shut down the Cubs for seven innings, and Kevan Smith hit a three-run homer. The Cubs do have their ace, Jon Lester (16-6), on the mound on Saturday. Meanwhile, Milwaukee, with their victory on Friday night, is just a game and a half behind the Cubs.
National League West
The Los Angeles Dodgers led the Rockies by two and a half games at the start of Friday’s action.
The Dodgers made some off-field news, as the tennis great Billie Jean King joined the team’s ownership group with her partner, Ilana Kloss. King said that she and her younger brother Randy Moffitt “grew up bleeding Dodger blue” in Long Beach, Calif. Moffitt later pitched in the majors for 12 seasons, 10 of them with the rival San Francisco Giants, or as King put it, “the wrong team.” On the field, the news on Friday night for the Dodgers was disappointing — they lost, at home, to the last-place San Diego Padres as their lead over the Rockies in the N.L. West fell to one and a half games.
American League Wild Card
The Yankees started Friday leading the Oakland Athletics by one and a half games for the top position, with no other teams within five games of contention for either spot.
The Yankees held their position with a 10-8 victory against the visiting Baltimore Orioles. C.C. Sabathia, whose chances of making the postseason roster have been questioned, helped his cause by giving up just two runs and striking out five in six innings. It was only his second victory since the All-Star break. Hours later, Oakland won , beating Minnesota, 7-6 in 10 innings on a walk-off home run by Khris Davis.
American League West
The Houston Astros led the Athletics by three and a half games at the start of Friday’s games.
Yuli Gurriel hit a grand slam on Friday night and a two-run homer as well on his way to a career-high seven runs batted in for Houston, which also had a three-run homer from George Springer in an 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Houston starter Gerrit Cole (15-5) struck out 12. That gives him 272 strikeouts for the season, passing his teammate Justin Verlander (269) for the league lead. The victory also kept Houston’s division lead intact after the A’s, later in the evening, topped Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers, who won the division in 2015 and 2016, fired Manager Jeff Banister with 10 games left in his fourth season. The Rangers will finish with consecutive losing records for the first time in 10 years. “We had some great times here, but it doesn’t last forever,” Banister, who was 325-313 over all, said in a statement.