The Los Angeles Dodgers are no longer on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. With Friday’s 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers are now tied with the Cardinals for the NL’s second Wild Card spot.
The teams have identical 81-67 records this season after Walker Buehler outdueled fellow rookie Jack Flaherty in an anticipated pitching matchup. Buehler tossed eight scoreless innings, striking out nine while allowing only two hits. Flaherty allowed one run over six sharp innings. He struck out eight.
The difference in this one was Yasiel Puig’s bat. The Dodger outfielder slugged a pair of solo home runs, giving him 18 on the season. Kenley Jansen earned his 35th save with a scoreless ninth.
Both teams are still chasing the Milwaukee Brewers, who hold a four-game lead for the top Wild Card spot in the NL.
The state of MLB’s playoff races
• NL West: The Dodgers also gained ground on the Colorado Rockies, who lost 2-0 to the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers are one-half game back in the division standings. The Arizona Diamondbacks are 3.5 games back.
• NL Central: The Chicago Cubs have navigated their tricky schedule pretty effectively. After making a quick trip to Washington D.C. and winning Thursday’s makeup game against the Nationals, the Cubs returned home to secure a 3-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers stayed right on their tails with a 7-4 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Chicago’s division lead remains at 1.5.
• NL East: The Atlanta Braves are on some kind of roll right now. Their winning streak is up to six following a 10-5 dismantling of Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals. The Braves squared up Scherzer for six runs in four innings, which will put a dent in his Cy Young hopes. The Philadelphia Phillies continued clinging to their postseason hopes with a 14-2 win against the Marlins. Atlanta’s still in firm command with a six-game lead.
• AL West: The Oakland Athletics still have their eyes on a division title. They topped the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 in a 10-inning thriller at Tropicana Field. They were able to move within 2.5 games of the Houston Astros, who lost 4-2 to the Diamondbacks.
• AL Wild Card: The Yankees and A’s are still in cruise control after each notching wins. The Yankees are up 1.5 on Oakland for the top spot, while the A’s lead for the second Wild Card grew to 8.5 games.
Magic Number Watch
• Cleveland Indians — 1: The champagne will stay on ice in Cleveland. The Indians guaranteed their would be no clincher Friday night after falling to the Tigers 5-4. However, their chances to clinch Saturday improved greatly after the Minnesota Twins lost to the Kansas City Royals on Salvador Perez’s walk-off grand slam.
• Boston Red Sox — 6: The Red Sox are no closer to clinching the AL East after being shut out by Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets, 8-0. The New York Yankees made it a clean sweep for New York’s teams, beating the Blue Jays 11-0. That keeps Boston’s Magic Number at six and lowers their division lead to 9.5 games.
If the playoff started tomorrow
Wild-card games: A’s at Yankees; Cardinals or Dodgers at Brewers
ALDS: Indians vs. Astros; Wild-card winner vs. Red Sox
NLDS: Rockies vs. Braves; Wild-card winner vs. Cubs
The Twins aren’t likely to survive the weekend after their elimination number lowered to one. They’re next in line to join the Orioles, Royals, White Sox, Tigers, Blue Jays, Rangers, Padres, Reds, Marlins and Angels as postseason outsiders.
Saturday’s must-see game
The biggest series of the weekend continues in St. Louis. The Dodgers are still chasing the Rockies in the NL West standings, but they’re also looking to claim a wild card spot after tying the Cardinals on Friday. Saturday’s afternoon matchup will feature veteran Rich Hill (8-5, 3.88) pitching for Los Angeles against Cardinals rookie John Gant (7-5, 3,16).
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