With two days left in the season, two big races remain undecided in Major League Baseball. The American League East and the second National League wild card are still up for grabs heading into Saturday, but both could be decided before our heads hit the pillow tonight.
The Boston Red Sox still have the inside track in the AL East, while the Colorado Rockies maintain a firm grip on the NL wild card. But the next few hours will tell us if their fans will be able to sleep at all.
Here’s a look at what the Red Sox and Rockies need to have happen on Saturday to clinch, and along with some other items worth watching in Saturday’s games.
1. RED SOX’S MAGIC NUMBER REMAINS 1
All the Red Sox need is one positive result. That could be a win Saturday afternoon against the Astros, or a Yankees loss to the Blue Jays. It sounds simple enough, but it’s the same scenario Boston had entering play on Friday. They couldn’t take advantage, losing 3-2 to Houston, while the Yankees beat up on Toronto 4-0.
Those results didn’t change much. After all, both the Red Sox and Yankees are already in the postseason. But they’d rather avoid the wild-card game if possible. For Boston, the pressure could start to mount without a clinch on Saturday. The Red Sox will have Drew Pomeranz on the hill against the Astros starter Lance McCullers. If it comes down to Sunday, they’ll have Chris Sale available. Ideally he would be saved for Game 1 of the ALDS.
The Yankees will send Jaime Garcia out against Marcus Stroman and the Jays. Both teams play at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, so we’ll know if the AL comes down to Sunday pretty early.
2. ROCKIES MAGIC NUMBER DOWN TO 1
The Rockies inched closer to the finish line, knocking their Magic Number to one with a 9-1 win against the Dodgers. That means a win against the Dodgers or a Brewers loss to the Cardinals either Saturday or Sunday will clinch it.
With the Brewers playing an afternoon game in St. Louis, it’s possible the Rockies will have clinched before taking the field Saturday night. If the Brewers do win, the Rockies would have to go through Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to celebrate. The good news there is Los Angeles already announced Kershaw as their Game 1 starter in the NLDS, so he likely wouldn’t be extended here.
Like the Red Sox, we’re sure Colorado would prefer to not wait around. Unlike the Red Sox, there’s no fallback if the wild card slips away.
3. ALL ABOUT HOME FIELD
This race is every bit as interesting as those noted above. That’s mainly because we never would have dreamed another team would challenge the Los Angeles Dodgers for home-field throughout the entire postseason given their remarkable run through the summer. Enter the Cleveland Indians, who by virtue of their historic 22-game winning streak are right on the Dodgers’ heels. With another win Friday, Cleveland moved to within one game of LA with two games to play.
The Dodgers have 102 wins. The Indians have 101 wins. Oh, and don’t forget the Houston Astros. They won their 100th on Friday. That means Cleveland could just as easily finish with the No. 2 seed in the AL as they do home-field for both leagues. Also worth noting, the Indians own the tiebreaker over Houston.
4. GIANCARLO STANTON NEEDS 1 HOMER FOR 60
It’s not the Magic Number we’re usually thinking about at this time, but one more home run from Giancarlo Stanton would cap a pretty special season. Stanton is one home run away from joining Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the 60 home run club.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – – –