(CBS New York) — With the MLB regular season in its final week, some of the wild card and division races remain too close to call. In the American League, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners all sit within 2.5 games of each other for the two wild card spots. In the National League, the Atlanta Braves lead the Philadelphia Phillies by 2.5 games in the race for the NL East title. Out west, the San Francisco Giants are outpacing the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division title.
This week’s Baseball Report looks at the Yankees’ jump to the top of the AL wild card race and the NL West division race between MLB’s two winningest teams.
Yankees Sweep Red Sox
The Tampa Bay Rays have led the American League East for the last two months. That lead has grown in September, leaving the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays to jockey for Wild Card positioning. Only two teams from the American League (and two from the National League) will play in the Wild Card Game. And the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s also remain within striking distance. With a week of games left, the race for those two spots is too close to call.
Going into Friday’s action, the Red Sox held the homefield advantage in the Wild Card race. They sat two games ahead of the Yankees, who would be the visiting team, if the game were to be played that day. The Blue Jays, at three games back, were on the outside looking in. By Sunday night, the race looked a little different. The Yankees’ three-game series at Fenway could not have gone any better for the Bronx Bombers, or any worse for the Red Sox.
Boston started the series in their lucky yellow jerseys, riding a seven-game winning streak. But Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole took a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning. Giancarlo Stanton managed three hits, including a three-run homer to right-center. Gleyber Torres added a solo shot for one of his two RBI. The 8-3 result cut the Red Sox lead for home-field advantage to one game.
The Red Sox jumped out to a two-run lead on Saturday. But Stanton would stay hot. Red Sox reliever Tanner Houck issued two two-out walks in the eighth inning. Reliever Darwinzon Hernandez then walked the bases loaded for Stanton, who belted a grand slam over the Green Monster to put the Yankees ahead.
The Red Sox and Yankees were tied going into Sunday night’s game. Boston held a 3-2 lead going into the seventh, after Yankees outfielders dropped a pair of easy popups. Aaron Judge came to the plate with runners on second and third and one out. The Red Sox had multiple chances to send the slugger back to the dugout, but couldn’t convert. Judge then lined a two-run double to left-center to make the score 4-3. Stanton would follow that up with a two-run homer again over the Green Monster. The Yankees would eventually win 6-3 and leave Boston with a one-game lead in the race for the top Wild Card spot.
Stanton finished the series with seven hits in his 12 at-bats. That includes three home runs and 10 RBI, which is more runs batted in than the Red Sox had in the series as a team. And much of his production came in pressure situations. Stanton was the first Yankee to pile up 10 RBI against the Red Sox since Mickey Mantle did it in 1954.
National League West Race
Neither the Giants not the Dodgers are fighting for their playoff lives. The Giants are 102-54 as of Monday night, with the most wins the team has had in almost three decades. The Dodgers sit two games back at 100-56. Both teams have long since clinched a playoff spot. But the NL West title remains very much in play.
The Giants have won 15 of their last 19 games as of Sunday. That includes a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies over the weekend. San Francisco returns home from Colorado with a chance to win the division. They’ll open a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, and then end the regular season with another three-game series with the San Diego Padres. The Giants will be without their home run leader, Brandon Belt. The first baseman broke his left thumb in Sunday’s game while attempting to bunt.
The Dodgers kept pace Sunday, topping the Diamondbacks to take two of the three games in their weekend series. Julio Urías pitched five innings of shutout ball to capture his MLB-leading 19th win. Corey Seager hit two out of the park, helping the Dodgers to a 3-0 win. The Dodgers open a three-game set with the Padres Tuesday night and follow that with three against the Milwaukee Brewers to close the regular season.