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MLB postseason picture: Twins break out home run robes, take over first place in AL Central

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·4-min read

We’re reached the home stretch of Major League Baseball’s 60-game season and there’s a lot left to sort out. Every day between now and the start of the postseason we’ll keep you updated on all the latest developments.

The American League Central is quickly becoming the most fascinating race in baseball.

What once seemed like the Chicago White Sox division to lose, is now wide open thanks to Chicago’s on-going four-game losing streak. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins won their fourth in a row, 7-6 against the Detroit Tigers, to leapfrog the White Sox and take over first place.

And let there be no doubt, the Twins did it with style.

On Tuesday, Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson surprised his teammates with customized bathrobes that matched their uniforms right down to their names and numbers.

Now those robes have become a symbol of their success.

After every home run, the batter slips the “home run robe” on in the dugout and struts his stuff.

Some have compared it to the University of Miami football team’s turnover chain. Others have questioned whether it’s good optics considering baseball is being played through a pandemic.

For now, the league is allowing it and the Twins are embracing it.

The Twins are also focused on winning their second straight division title. Minnesota now holds a half-game lead over the White Sox, but it’s important to note they do not control their own destiny because Chicago owns the tiebreaker by virtue of their season-series win. Minnesota has to finish one full game ahead to win the division.

The Twins are off Thursday before hosting the Cincinnati Reds for three games this weekend. The White Sox play once more in Cleveland before hosting the Cubs for three. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians are just 2.5 games back. They host the Pittsburgh Pirates starting on Friday.

Magic Number Countdown

BLUE JAYS: The Blue Jays beat the Yankees to lower their magic number to one. Toronto can clinch a playoff spot with a win on Thursday.

ASTROS: The Astros lost to the Mariners Wednesday and the Angels won again against Seattle. That keeps Houston’s magic number to clinch a postseason berth at two.

Key Races

NL CENTRAL: Despite back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh, the Cubs are still in the driver’s seat with a 3.5-game lead over St. Louis and Cincinnati. Chicago’s magic number is three. The Cardinals, Reds and Brewers are all still alive for second place, which would get them in the postseason.

NL EAST: The Braves won the division, but the second place race is up for grabs. After losing to the Braves on Wednesday, the Marlins lead is down to one-half game over the Phillies, who were victorious against Washington.

NL WILD CARD: When you factor in the East and Central second-place bids, this is basically a six-team race for four spots. The Cardinals, Marlins, Reds and Giants would be in if the postseason started today. The Phillies and Brewers would not.

So long, champs

The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday.

After starting the 2019 season 19-31 and famously rallying to win it all, the Nationals once again started the 2020 season 19-31. Unfortunately, there's not enough time to rally in 2020 despite the expanded postseason field.

This year's Nationals were without Anthony Rendon, who left in free agency, and Stephen Strasburg, who suffered a season-ending injury. Closer Sean Doolittle also battled injuries all season long before being shut down.

MLB still has not had a repeat champion since the New York Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000.

Games to Watch

White Sox at Indians (6:10 p.m. ET) — Every game featuring the Twins, White Sox or Indians will be important until the AL Central is decided.

Brewers at Cardinals (8:15 p.m. ET) — The start of a huge season-ending series that could help decide multiple spots in the NL playoffs. Buckle up.

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