With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, 13 teams found themselves on Monday morning within five games of the 10 playoff spots. Some, like the Boston Red Sox, will most likely clinch a division title in the next few days, and others, like the Philadelphia Phillies, need something just short of a miracle to make it.
The game late Monday between the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers had the most riding on it, as the two are separated by just a half-game in the National League West.
Here is where the various competitive playoff races stand on Monday night:
National League Central
The Chicago Cubs came into the day leading the Milwaukee Brewers by 2.5 games.
It has been a terrific season for Christian Yelich of the Brewers, and he’s even started to be mentioned in the Most Valuable Player Award debates, but the 26-year-old outfielder seems to save his best work for games against the Reds. He hit for the cycle and drove in four runs in Milwaukee’s 8-0 win over Cincinnati on Monday. In doing so, he became the fifth player ever to hit for the cycle twice in the same season and the first one to have both games come against the same opponent. The offensive outburst, along with terrific pitching from Wade Miley and two relievers, helped the Brewers at least temporarily gain a half-game in their battle with the Cubs for the N.L. Central lead.
National League Wild-Card
The Brewers came into the day with a three-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and the Dodgers for the top wild-card position. The Diamondbacks were four games back for the second wild-card spot and the Philadelphia Phillies were five games back.
With the Brewers winning, the pressure was on the Cardinals to keep up, and they did by beating the N.L. East-leading Atlanta Braves, 11-6. It was a group effort for St. Louis, with three different players driving in three runs each, including Harrison Bader, who came in as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh inning and then hit a three-run homer in the top half of the eighth. The Cardinals had a shaky night in the bullpen, with their four relievers allowing four runs (two earned), but the team’s offensive output more than made up for it.
The Phillies, on the other hand, lost another half-game by losing, 9-4, to the Mets. While they have not officially been eliminated, the Phillies’ chances have dropped below 2 percent.
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs, 9:40 p.m.
Rockies at Dodgers, 10 p.m.
National League West
The Colorado Rockies came into the day leading the Los Angeles Dodgers by 0.5 games and the Arizona Diamondbacks by 4.5.
Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs, 9:40 p.m.
Rockies at Dodgers, 10 p.m.
American League West
The Houston Astros came into the day leading the Oakland Athletics by 4.5 games.
The Astros’ lead over the idle Athletics was down to four games after Houston lost to the Seattle Mariners, 4-1. The Astros were up by 1-0 in the eighth inning when Hector Rondon imploded. The veteran right-hander allowed two singles and a walk, loading the bases with two outs before Daniel Vogelbach launched a pinch-hit grand slam to right-center that accounted for all of Seattle’s scoring for the day. The most likely scenario is still Houston winning the division and Oakland winning a wild-card spot, but the defending World Series champions have yet to slam the door.
American League Wild-Card
The Yankees lead the Athletics by 1.5 games for the top spot, with no other teams within five games of either position.
Both contending teams were idle Monday. The Yankees begin a three-game series at home against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, with J.A. Happ (3.75 E.R.A., 2.8 WAR) starting against Nathan Eovaldi (4.22, 0.8). The first game of Oakland’s three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels will feature Liam Hendriks (5.60, -0.1) starting against Tyler Skaggs (3.78, 1.5).