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MLB postseason picture: The Braves are opening up a big lead in the NL East

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September is upon us, which means every race in Major League Baseball is headed for the home stretch. That’s why every night between now and the end of the regular season we’ll bring you an updated look at the MLB postseason picture.

The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are going in two different directions right now, and trust us, mid-September is not when a team wants to be going in the Phillies’ direction.

The Phillies lost two games Tuesday, in a doubleheader sweep by the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, the Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 4-1. For the Phillies, it was their fourth straight loss. For the Braves, their fourth straight win.

What’s that equal in the standings, kids? The Braves now have a 6.5 game lead in the NL East. In other words, they might want to start picking out champagne for the division-title celebration. It’s not a sure thing yet, but it’s getting closer. Atlanta’s Magic Number is now down to 12.

The Braves are sliding toward a division title with their fourth straight win. (AP)

The state of MLB’s playoff races

NL Central: The Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Tuesday night to regain the game they lost in the standings Monday. The Cubs’ lead is back to two games, with one more to play against the Brew Crew at Wrigley. The Cardinals are in still in this thing too. They whooped on the Pirates 11-5 and they’re 3.5 back from the division lead.

NL West: The Colorado Rockies Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers both lost, which means the top of the NL remains the same. The Dodgers trail Colorado by 1.5 games. The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Rockies, however, so they gained some ground. They’re 2.5 back.

NL Wild Card: The NL Central teams are ahead of the NL West teams. That’s the best way to distill it. The Brewers have the top spot with the Cards 1.5 back. The Dodgers and D-backs are three games and four games out, respectively.

AL East: The Boston Red Sox clinched at least a playoff spot with their win Tuesday night. The Yankees lost to the Twins 10-5, so we’re getting closer to Magic Number time for the Red Sox, who have both a nine-game division lead and a Magic Number of nine to clinch the division.

AL West: The A’s and Astros both keep winning — the A’s beat the Orioles 3-2 while the Astros beat the Tigers 5-4 — so not much has changed in the AL West. The Astros have a three-game lead.

AL Wild Card: The A’s win coupled with the Yankees’ loss means the Yankees are now within two of the top wild-card spot. The Mariners and Rays are both 8.5 back from the A’s, but that’s starting to look more impossible by the day.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Cody Allen, right, celebrates with catcher Yan Gomes after Allen closed out the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Cleveland won the game 2-0. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Magic number watch

Cleveland Indians — 3: The Indians are only playing against their Magic Number at this point. And they can get there in a couple days. They beat the Rays 2-0 on Tuesday night.

If the playoffs started tomorrow

Wild-card games: A’s at Yankees; Cardinals at Brewers

ALDS: Indians vs. Astros; Wild-card winner vs. Red Sox

NLDS: Rockies vs. Braves; Wild-card winner vs. Cubs

Elimination watch

The Los Angeles Angels are the next to face elimination. Their elimination number is two in the AL Wild Card, so an A’s win and Angels loss could end their season Wednesday. Next up would be the Mets, whose elimination number is four.

Wednesday’s must-see game

The NL West continues to be the most contentious division around and the first-place vs. third-place matchup between the D-backs and Rockies gives us both drama and a good pitching matchup. On Wednesday, the D-backs send Patrick Corbin (11-5, 3.01) to the mound to face Jon Gray (11-7, 4.69).

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Mike Oz is a writer at Yahoo Sports. Contact him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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