The Detroit Tigers clinched their third straight American League (AL) Central division title and St Louis moved to the brink of taking the National League (NL) Central, while the New York Yankees’ postseason hopes ended on Wednesday as the MLB playoff picture became clearer.
Led by pitcher Max Scherzer, who notched his 21st win of the season, the Tigers beat Minnesota 1-0 to seal the division title.
The wild-card places in the AL remain up for grabs into the last week of the regular season, as Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas all won.
In the NL Central, St Louis moved three games clear on top by defeating Washington and now need only one more win in their last three games or one more loss by nearest rival Pittsburgh to seal the division.
Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, who trail the Pirates by one game, both lost and appear destined to meet in the sudden death wild-card game.
Detroit’s only run came via Torii Hunter’s single, followed by a leadoff triple by Austin Jackson in the first inning, but that proved enough, thanks to Scherzer (21-3) who pitched seven scoreless innings.
Scherzer struck out 10 and lowered his ERA to 2.90, while ensuring he will finish the season with the most wins in the major leagues.
While Tigers fans could celebrate, it was a contrasting scene in New York where the Yankees lost 8-3 to Tampa Bay, ending their slim playoff hopes.
It will be only the second postseason in 19 years without the Yankees.
Evan Longoria homered twice for the Rays, who won their sixth straight game to retain their hold on the top AL wild card.
New York fans knew their fate even before the game ended, as Cleveland — holding the second wild card — completed a 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Rookie Danny Salazar (2-3) struck out eight in 5-1/3 innings for the Indians, who won their final six home games and beat the White Sox for the 14th time in a row.
Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer for the Indians in the fifth inning.
Cleveland lead Texas by one game for the second wild-card slot. They are one game behind Tampa Bay for the top spot.
Texas kept up in the tight race with a 7-3 win over Houston. Leonys Martin hit a three-run double and Ian Kinsler homered for the Rangers, who have won 11 in succession against their state rivals and now prepare for a home series against the out-of-contention Los Angeles Angels.
It was the 12th straight loss for the Astros, who now have a team-record 108 defeats this season.
Kansas City were officially eliminated from wild-card contention after a 6-0 loss to Seattle, who got eight scoreless innings from Hisashi Iwakuma and two homers from Mike Zunino.
St Louis wrapped up a vital three-game sweep of Washington with a 4-1 victory which put the Cardinals on the brink of the NL Central title.
Rookie Shelby Miller (15-9) allowed only one run in six-plus innings.
Yadier Molina had the go-ahead hit for St Louis ,who are a season-high 29 games above .500.
Pittsburgh’s division title hopes took a near-fatal blow with a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. With three games remaining in the regular season for each team, the Pirates trail division-leading St Louis by three games.
The Pirates, who already have clinched a playoff spot, hold a one-game lead over Cincinnati for the first wild-card slot. Pittsburgh and the Reds finish up with a three-game set in Cincinnati this weekend.
Darnell McDonald hit a three-run homer for the Cubs among his three hits.
Cincinnati also had a costly loss against a lowly opponent, beaten 1-0 at home by the New York Mets.
Eric Young Jr drove in the only run and Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3) pitched 7-2/3 scoreless innings for the Mets, who had long been out of playoff contention, but finished their road season with a 41-40 record.
The shutout loss was Cincinnati’s 11th of the season, after only four last year.
In other games, Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver pitched seven impressive innings to steer the Angels to a 3-1 win over Oakland, doing more damage to the Athletics’ home-field playoff hopes.
Baltimore’s Ryan Flaherty hit a pair of two-run homers and Jonathan Schoop had a solo shot in his big league debut as the Orioles beat Toronto 9-5 to snap a six-game skid.
Milwaukee’s Kyle Lohse pitched a shutout as the Brewers beat Atlanta 4-0, overcoming the ejection of Carlos Gomez for precipitating a first-inning brawl.
Miami’s Adeiny Hechavarria drove in three runs, including a go-ahead run in the eighth inning, to lift the Marlins to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
San Diego’s Ian Kennedy pitched solidly and was backed by high offensive production throughout the lineup as the Padres routed Arizona 12-2.
San Francisco’s Barry Zito won in what likely was his final hurrah, steering the Giants to a 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Colorado’s Todd Helton homered, doubled and drove in three runs in his final game at Coors Field, but Boston used Will Middlebrooks’ two homers and career-high seven RBIs to beat the Rockies 15-5.