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MLB postseason picture: Dodgers reclaim first place in NL West

September is upon us, which means every race in Major League Baseball is headed for the home stretch. Every game matters more than ever to the teams competing for a postseason spot. 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.

There seems to be a pattern emerging here: The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place again in the wild NL West.  They beat their chief division postseason rival, the Colorado Rockies, by a score of 8-2 to take a half-game lead.

Sunday night? The Rockies were in first, barely ahead of L.A. Saturday? The Dodgers were in first, barely ahead of Colorado. Friday? The Rockies were in first, barely ahead of L.A.

If you want to live and die with pennant-chase baseball every night, the NL West is the place to do it. Monday night, things were fairly easy for the Dodgers, who scored two in the first inning, four in the third inning and two more in the fourth. From there, they just held on for the 8-2 win. The Dodgers got seven scoreless innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu, a great time for one of his best outings of the season.

The Rockies and Dodgers have two more games in L.A. this week. If the Dodgers can pull off two more wins, it could be a big statement for the final two weeks of the season. If the two teams just keep doing what they’re doing, trading wins and losses, then we might just have a new team in first place Tuesday night. You know, patterns and such.

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson watches his solo home run against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo)

Champagne watch

Red Sox — Boston can clinch the AL East with a win Tuesday over the rival New York Yankees. The Red Sox’s Magic Number is 2, so a win against the Yankees would wipe that out completely. It’ll be two trade-deadline acquisitions on the mound, as the Red Sox send out Nathan Eovaldi (5-7, 4.22 ERA) to face J.A. Happ (16-6, 3.75 ERA). First pitch is 7:05 p.m. ET.

Magic number countdown

Braves — 7: The Braves didn’t win Monday night, losing to the Cardinals 11-6, but they still got closer to clinching the NL East. The second-place Phillies also lost, moving Atlanta’s magic number to seven. This one seems like just a matter of time at this point.

The state of the other MLB playoff races

AL West: The Oakland A’s are running out of time to catch the Houston Astros for first place, but they did get some help Monday night. The deficit stands at four games after Houston lost to the Seattle Mariners 4-1. The A’s were idle. The Astros’ Magic Number is nine entering Tuesday’s action.

AL Wild Card: The A’s and Yankees were both off, so only a small change here. The Rays beat the Texas Rangers for their third straight win. They’re 6.5 for the second wild-card spot.

AL Central: It’s a done deal. The Indians clinched last week.

NL Central: No movement here. The Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals all won their games Monday night. That means the Cubs’ maintain their 2.5 game over the Brewers and 5.5 lead over the Cardinals.

NL Wild Card: The Brewers and Cardinals still hold these spots — the Brewers with a three-game lead for the No. 1 spot. Their respective wins Monday night coupled with the Rockies’ loss put Colorado a half-game out. The Diamondbacks are still alive technically, but with their loss to the Cubs they’re now five games behind the Cardinals and fading faster by the day.

St. Louis Cardinals’ Harrison Bader gets a home run on a fly ball to left field during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo)

If the playoffs started today

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

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

NLDS: Dodgers at Braves; Wild-card winner vs. Cubs

Elimination watch

The Giants and Mets were both eliminated Monday night — even though they won their games. That’s what happens when so many of the top NL teams win their games. Next up for elimination are the Washington Nationals, whose elimination number is five.

Tuesday’s Must-See Game

Don’t miss Yankees-Red Sox potential AL East clincher, obviously. Another pick is Game 2 of the Rockies and Dodgers series, where there’s one heck of a pitching matchup: Rockies’ Cy Young contender Kyle Freeland against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

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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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