Major League Baseball is less than a week away now from the start of the playoffs, but we are still finding out how all the pieces fit together heading into them. One such piece has finally be decided. The Houston Astros, the defending World Series champions, have clinched the AL West now. The Astros have faced pressure off the back of the Oakland Athletics all season long, but they have finally done it. And they have done it by winning 100 games for the second straight season after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1. With the win, Houston improves to 18-4 in the month of September, and they now have a chance to break the franchise high for wins in a season if they can add three wins from the final five games.
That win for the Astros put their ‘magic number’ at one, meaning they needed a loss from the A’s or a win themselves to seal the deal. They did not have to wait very long because Oakland went down on Tuesday night in a thrilling extra innings game to the Seattle Mariners 10-8. The A’s had lead 6-3 after two innings and 8-5 after six, but they just could not seal the deal. Seattle kept clawing their way back into the game, with two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth allowing them to push the game into extras. In the 11th inning, the now 86-71 Mariners walked off thanks to pinch hitter Chris Herrmann’s two run blast. It marked the first loss for the A’s all year (they had been 68-0) after holding a lead after seven innings.
The Mariners weren’t the only team to win a big game in extras. Perhaps more important was the victory the Arizona Diamondbacks got over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just when it looked like the Diamondbacks had thrown it away by allowing the Dodgers to tie it up at 3-3 in the top of the ninth, they got some help from Eduardo Escobar in the bottom of the ninth to walk it off. The home run was massive not only because it gave them a win, but also because it pulled them to within just a half game of their division foes. The Dodgers have now only lost three in their last 13, so this was a very big win for the Diamondbacks as they hope to ensure themselves of a place in the playoffs and remain alive in the NL West chase as well.
The NL Cy Young race got a little more clear, possibly, yesterday as well. Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer struck out his 300th batter of the year, becoming just the sixth player to reach that number in a season since 1900, and shored up his case for the award. Jacob deGrom takes to the mound tonight for the Mets, hoping to finish the season with a winning record.