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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with five days left

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with five days left

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

In the span of a couple of games on Tuesday night, one MLB postseason race was re-ignited, one was almost wrapped up, and one saw no changes in the standings.

The Minnesota Twins rallied after trailing the AL-best Cleveland Indians 6-4 heading into the eighth inning. Brian Dozier delivered a pivotal three-run opposite-field homerun to put the Twins on top and have the team one win away from the postseason.

Surprisingly the American League East has re-opened up their battle after it appeared the Red Sox had taken care of business last weekend. The Yankees are riding a two-game winning streak while Boston has lost two straight.

In the race for the second Wild Card in the National League, all three teams won, essentially changing nothing as they move to five games away from the playoffs.

Only three postseason spots remain with six teams alive in the race.

NEW MLB BRACKET PROJECTION WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

AMERICAN LEAGUE

With the Minnesota Twins (83-74) improbable victory on Tuesday, three teams saw their postseason hopes dashed. The Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays, and Texas Rangers will not be competing in the 2017 postseason.

Relying on multiple Twins losses the rest of the way, the Los Angeles Angels (78-79) did not gain any ground on Minnesota for the second Wild Card in the American League. The Angels took care of the White Sox handily with a six-run second inning in a 9-3 win. But with the Twins victory, that many anticipated would be a loss, Los Angeles is five games back.

Minnesota can clinch the second Wild Card berth out-right on Wednesday night with either a win over Cleveland or a loss by the Angels in Chicago.

Now seen as an after-thought in the American League Wild Card race, the New York Yankees (88-69) are guaranteed at least one home game in this year’s postseason. The team can place no worse than fourth in the American League bracket after a 6-1 win over Tampa Bay. Chasing the Boston Red Sox (91-66) for the AL East title, the Yankees are only three games back with five games to go. 

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 27):

New York Yankees:     +5.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
Los Angeles Angels:     -5.0                     
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Based on Tuesday’s results, the National Wild Card race saw little changes. One difference now though is how the race will play out in the final weekend.

Besides the Twins upsetting the Indians, the biggest shock of the night was the St. Louis Cardinals (82-75) holding on to beat the Chicago Cubs. Although out of the NL Central race, the Cardinals nabbed a crucial victory to stay within striking distance of the Rockies. Still a tough task ahead with the Cubs up for two more games.

Getting back in the win column, the Colorado Rockies (85-73) shutout the Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers (83-74) held off the Reds.

Keep in mind that even though the Rockies have a decent 1.5 game advantage, they do face the Los Angeles Dodgers after two more games against the Marlins. However, the Dodgers claimed the No. 1 seed in the National League last night and seem to just be cruising to the postseason. Also the Cardinals and Brewers finish with a three-game series in St. Louis.

Entering today, FanGraphs.com has Colorado projected to win the second Wild Card spot at 74.1 percent.  Milwaukee, who still technically in the NL Central race, but five games back, sits at 18.9 percent. Rounding out the race, St. Louis has a mere 6.9 percent to claim the second Wild Card.

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 27):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -1.5              
St. Louis Cardinals:               -2.5    

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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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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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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