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MLB Postseason 2017: Updated Wild Card Standings, 7 days remaining

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USA Today Sports

MLB Postseason 2017: Updated Wild Card Standings, 7 days remaining

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST UPDATE ON THE AMERICAN LEAGUE AND NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD RACES

The 2017 MLB Wild Card race is still undecided after over a 150 games throughout the regular season.

While the Yankees, Twins, and Diamondbacks did what they had to do this past weekend, the Rockies did not. Just like that the National League’s second Wild Card spot is wide open.

Only three postseason slots remain open, the NL Central title and a Wild Card spot on each side. Positioning and even the AL East are still up in the air but seven of the ten teams know they will be playing in October.

Things flipped this weekend. The American League Wild Card race calmed down and is essentially over, but the National League race is just primed for a crazy final week.

RELATED: FULL MLB POSTSEASON UPDATE

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Heading into this past weekend’s match-ups the American League Wild Card was wide open. Ten teams were alive and many were in a position to make a run.

Well the Minnesota Twins (82-74) took care of business with a four game sweep of the Tigers. The bats opened up after an up-and-down month with 39 runs spread across their series. Virtually the Twins have wrapped up the second Wild Card. Their lead over the first team out is 4.5 games over the Los Angeles Angels (77-78).  If not wrapped up, Minnesota has padded their lead heading to a three game series in Cleveland.

With their success, three teams were eliminated in the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and Oakland Athletics. Now only six teams are in the race.

The New York Yankees (86-69), despite winning only one game against Toronto, clinched their postseason berth. They have fallen back to five games behind the Red Sox in the AL East race, but maintain a 4.5 game edge over the Twins for the first Wild Card.

Salvaging one win against the Astros, the Angels are not done yet. Seven games are left for them with four of them being against the White Sox. The Kansas City Royals (76-79) end their schedule in an awkward fashion. First they play the Yankees on Monday before a three-game series hosting Detroit and then an interleague head-to-head with Arizona. There is a tall task ahead for the Texas Rangers (76-79), facing the Houston Astros when there is no room for error.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 25):

New York Yankees:     +4.5
Minnesota Twins:           ---
Los Angeles Angels:     -4.5
Texas Rangers:             -5.5
Kansas City Royals:      -5.5
Tampa Bay Rays:          -6.0
Seattle Mariners:           -7.0

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Somehow the National League Wild Card race did not tighten up this weekend. It has however set up the race for an incredible finish to the 2017 season.

What we do know now though, essentially the only way for the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals to get into the postseason is through the Wild Card.

A sizable lead has put the Arizona Diamondbacks (90-66) as the only team in the majors that knows their postseason fate. Arizona locked up the top Wild Card spot and will host the National League Wild Card game on Oct. 4.

Their opponent still remains a mystery.

The Colorado Rockies (84-72) were in a good spot but only claimed two of four from the Padres. Now the Rockies host Miami, a long-ball hitting team in a hitters ball park, and have to face the Los Angeles Dodgers to end the season.

Waiting for the end of season slip, the Milwaukee Brewers (82-74) play Cincinnati and the St. Louis Cardinals (81-74). Now almost out of the Central race, the Cardinals first play the Cubs before their season finale against Milwaukee.

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 25):

Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:             ---
Milwaukee Brewers:         -2.0
St. Louis Cardinals:          -2.5

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER READY TO RETURN TO NATS

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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