On Wednesday, we had our first team get eliminated from the playoff race, as the Astros' elimination number fell to zero. The Astros and Marlins have both clinched losing records for the year, already notching 89 and 83 losses respectively. On Thursday, we had our first team get to the magic number of 81 wins and clinch a .500 record for the season: the NL East leading Atlanta Braves. Atlanta completed an impressive three game sweep of the Indians on Thursday to get to 81 wins. They're the lone team in baseball with a winning percentage above .600, and are 29 games above .500. Atlanta's magic number for clinching the division outright is 17, and their next 13 games are against sub-.500 division rivals Miami, New York, and Philadelphia. The Braves could have the division locked up by the time they visit Washington in two and a half weeks, rendering what was thought to be a crucial year-end series as just another set of games for the Braves.
PIC OF THE DAY
Terry Collins…all alone…because Alderson traded everyone else (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Day: Tigers 7, Athletics 6. What a crushing loss for the A's after winning the first three games in Detroit. They led this one 6-1 after five. Then Bartolo Colon left the game after throwing just 73 pitches, and it all fell apart. Prince Fielder led off the sixth wtih a solo homer off of Jerry Blevins to make it a 6-2 game. Blevins got Victor Martinez to ground out and then gave up a pair of singles before ceding the mound to Dan Otero, who allowed a single to Ramon Santiago before getting out of the inning. But still, 6-3 is a pretty solid lead with Oakland;s bullpen. Otero got into trouble in the seventh, but Sean Doolittle got Torii Hunter to ground out to end the inning. Doolittle mowed the Tigers down in the eighth, and Grant Balfour came in for the save. But there was no raging in the ninth inning on Thursday. Balfour walked Austin Jackson to lead off the inning before getting the first two outs in quick succession. Then Balfour walked Fielder and gave up an RBI single to Martinez. OK, it's still 6-4, nothing to be that worried about. But after Martinez, Hunter stepped up to the dish and smashed a 1-1 pitch from Balfour over the left center field wall. Tigers win, Tigers win.
Pitching Lines of the Day: Jason Vargas dominated the Rays in a 2-0 Angels win, allowing two hits over seven shutout innings, striking out seven and walking three. Gio Gonzalez controlled the Marlins as Washington won 9-0, giving up three hits in seven scoreless frames, punching out eight while walking three. Kris Medlen pitched well for the Braves in their 3-1 win over the Indians, allowing six hits in seven shutout frames, striking out six without a walk. Yovani Gallardo had a vintage Gallardo start in Milwaukee's 4-0 win in Pittsburgh, giving up six hits over seven scoreless innings, walking one and punching out five. Carlos Torres led the Mets to an 11-3 romp over the Phillies, allowing one run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six without a walk.
Hitting Lines of the Day: Jayson Werth stayed red hot for the Nationals in their win against the Marlins, going 3/4 with two runs, three RBI, and a homer. In Detroit's big win over Oakland, Prince Fielder went 3/4 with three runs, a walk, and a homer. The duo of Daniel Murphy and Eric Young Jr spurred the Mets in their win against the Phillies, as Murphy went 4/5 with a run, two RBI, a stolen base, and two doubles, while Young went 3/5 with two runs, three RBI, and a triple. Franklin Gutierrez pushed the Mariners to a 3-2 win over the Astros, going 3/4 with a double and a two-run homer.
Other Games: The Royals beat the Twins 3-1 to complete the sweep in Minnesota, allowing just three runs to the Twinkies in the process. The Orioles edged the Red Sox 3-2, handing Chris Tillman win #15 of the season.
What You Missed: Here are the first editions of the End of Season Post-Mortem and Hope for the Hopeless series, focusing on the Houston Astros. Injured Pirate Starling Marte hung up a fan's drawing of him in the dugout. Bryce Harper wants money and love with a 12-year contract extension.
Today's Games: Roy Halladay starts for the Phillies in Chicago against Jeff Samardzija. Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals host Dillon Gee and the Mets. CC Sabathia and the Yankees welcome the Orioles to the Bronx. Ervin Santana and Mark Buehrle square off in Toronto. Shelby Miller and Francisco Liriano duel in a crucial NL Central matchup. Jose Fernandez and Julio Teheran face off in a battle of Rookie of the Year candidates. Yu Darvish and the Rangers host the Twins. Jered Weaver starts for the Angels in Milwaukee. Mariners stud prospect Taijuan Walker makes his major league debut against the Astros. Tim Lincecum and Randall Delgado will tango in Arizona. David Price and the Rays take on Jarrod Parker and the A's in a fantastic matchup of the AL Wild Card leaders. Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers host the Padres.
National TV: Cardinals-Pirates (7 PM, MLB Network), Orioles-Yankees (7 PM, MLB Network)
MLB.tv Free Game: Twins-Rangers (8 PM)
Pitching Matchup of the Day: Shelby Miller vs Francisco Liriano (Cardinals vs Pirates, 7 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.