The National League playoff picture was clarified a little more on Tuesday night. The Braves came from behind to walk off on the Marlins, winning 4-3 to clinch a playoff spot in the NL. There's just one spot remaining, and it's currently held by the defending World Champion Cardinals, who have a 4.5 game lead in the race for the second wild card spot on the Dodgers and Brewers. However, despite four teams already being locked in, the seeding is still up in the air. Atlanta is four back in the NL East behind Washington, and still has an outside shot at winning the division. If that happened, it would be devastating for the Nationals to be pushed into the wild card playoff as opposed to the Braves, who have seemingly been penciled in to that slot all season. It appears that either the Nationals or Reds will take the top seed in the NL, as both currently have identical 93-61 records, four games up on the Braves and Giants. This thing is getting tight, folks.
Game of the Night: Athletics 3, Rangers 2 (ten innings). Speaking of tight races, the A's closed the gap in the AL West to four games behind the Rangers and retained their two game lead over the Angels in the race for the AL's second wild card with this win. The Rangers got a pair of unearned runs in the first inning off of Oakland starter Tommy Milone thanks to a Brandon Moss error in right field, but were shut down over the rest of the game by the road-fearing starter and the A's bullpen. The Athletics would slowly peck away, scoring one in the second on a Daric Barton double, and tying the game at two in the fourth after a Chris Carter homer. Then, the bullpens took over…until the tenth, when Texas reliever Mark Lowe allowed a solo jack to George Kottaras to put the A's ahead 3-2. Grant Balfour mowed the Rangers down in the bottom of the inning, and there's your ballgame.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Anibal Sanchez threw a gem for the Tigers in their 2-0 win over the Royals, completing a three hit shutout while walking just one and striking out ten. Combined with the White Sox loss to the Indians, the AL Central is once again knotted up. David Price threw a complete game for the Rays in their 5-2 win in Boston, allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out 13 and walking none as his fantastic year continues. Jaime Garcia dominated the Astros in the Cardinals' 4-0 win, throwing seven shutout innings and allowing six hits, no walks, and tallying five strikeouts.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In a 5-4 loss to the Angels, Justin Smoak of the Mariners went 2/3 with a walk, three RBI, and a pair of homers. Donavan Solano was the Marlins offense in their 4-3 loss to the Braves, going 2/3 with the first two homers of his career and three RBI. Russ Canzler powered the Indians to a 5-4 win in Chicago, going 3/4 with two runs, a double, and a homer. DJ LeMahieu punished his former team in a rain-shortened 10-5 Rockies win over the Cubs, going 3/3 with two runs, an RBI, a double, and a triple. Paul Goldschmidt had an odd day for the Diamondbacks in their 7-2 win over the Giants, going 1/2 with a homer and five RBI…thank you, two sacrifice flies.
Other Games: The Phillies homered three times in a 6-3 win over the Nationals. The Blue Jays shut out the Orioles 4-0, but the Twins beat the Yankees 5-4 to keep the AL East deficit at 1.5 games for Baltimore. The Reds beat the Brewers 4-2 behind the arm of Johnny Cueto, a costly blow in the playoff race for Milwaukee. The Pirates outslugged the Mets 10-6, and Pedro Alvarez hit his 30th homer of the year. The Padres edged the Dodgers 2-1 with each team recording just one extra base hit apiece.
Today's Games: CC Sabathia will start for the Twins in Minnesota. Jeremy Guthrie starts for the Royals, attempting to play spoiler for the Tigers. Josh Johnson takes on Paul Maholm in Atlanta, with the Braves looking to make moves in the NL East. Jarrod Parker will start for the A's in Texas against Martin Perez in a battle of young, talented prospects. Chris Carpenter makes his second start of the year for the Cardinals, this time in Houston. Justin Masterson starts for the spoiler-minded Indians in Chicago. Felix Hernandez takes on CJ Wilson in Anaheim, and Wade Miley starts against Matt Cain in San Francisco so you can finish your night with two fantastic pitching matchups.
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.