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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 Los Angeles Dodgers have punched their ticket to Major League Baseball’s expanded postseason.

It took a 7-5 victory against the San Diego Padres and help from the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals to do it Wednesday, but the Dodgers have officially secured their eighth straight playoff appearance.

The Dodgers will now look to make it eight straight division championships as well. Wednesday’s win gives them a 3.5-game lead with 10 games left to play. Their magic number to clinch the NL West is seven.

Despite their recent regular season success, L.A. has been unable to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the World Series. Their last championship parade took place in 1988. This club is well-equipped to take the leap in 2020 thanks to a loaded starting rotation and the addition of former American League MVP Mookie Betts in an offseason trade with the Boston Red Sox.

Of course, this postseason will present a new challenge thanks to the added wild card round. The Dodgers will have to win a best-of-three series just to reach the NLDS.

The four remaining NL teams after the wild card round will travel to Texas where the NLDS, NLCS and World Series will all be played in MLB’s postseason bubble.

© Provided by Yahoo! Sports The Los Angeles Dodgers are the first team to punch their ticket to MLB's expanded 2020 postseason. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) Key Races

NL CENTRAL: One caveat of MLB’s expanded postseason is that the top two teams in each division get in. That creates six new races separate from the division title and wild card berths. 

In the NL Central, the race for that second spot is really heating up. While the Cubs have a comfortable 5.5-game lead for first place, the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers are locked in a battle for second. Entering play on Thursday, St. Louis and Cincinnati are tied for second place. Milwaukee is one game back. 

These three teams will be duking it out over the final 11 days. The Cardinals and Brewers will play five more times this season. The Reds will also host Milwaukee for three games. 

NL EAST: Can the Miami Marlins shock the world? They already have us startled. With Wednesday’s 8-4 win against the Boston Red Sox, Miami is just 2.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East. The Marlins have a 1.5-game edge on Philadelphia for second place. 

AL EAST:  It’s a similar situation in the AL East. The Rays hold a three-game lead over New York for the top spot. Meanwhile, the Yankees hold a mere 1.5-game lead over Toronto for second place. One week ago, the Yankees were actually three games behind the Jays. Since then, they’ve won seven straight games.  

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SF Giants Gameday podcast: Time is running out for the Giants to take control of NL wild card race

After rebounding from back-to-back shutout losses with one of their best performances of the season on Sunday in Oakland, the Giants believed a 14-2 win over the first-place A’s was the start of a push to take control of the National League wild card race.

The Giants had won 13 of their last 16 at Oracle Park and returned home Monday with a huge sense of optimism as they opened a four-game set against the Colorado Rockies. That sense, and nearly every good feeling about the Giants’ playoff chances, disappeared early as starting pitcher Johnny Cueto turned in one of his worst outings as a member of the organization in a 7-2 loss.

Cueto didn’t have command of his pitches and the Giants’ offense didn’t trouble Rockies right-hander German Márquez in a disappointing series-opening defeat.

The loss won’t crush the Giants’ playoff chances as they’ll wake up on Tuesday 0.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the second wild card spot, but they’re running out of time to take control of the race. Manager Gabe Kapler’s squad now has to try and play some of its best baseball of the season during the final seven games of the year while also hoping none of the other teams vying for a playoff spot gets too hot.

With three games left against a sub-.500 Rockies team and four against a Padres team that’s given San Francisco plenty of trouble this year, the Giants know they can’t waste any opportunities before the weekend. If they do, their hopes of playing into October will disappear as quickly as their chances of winning Monday’s series opener did.

SF Giants Gameday: Listen to the Bay Area News Group’s daily San Francisco Giants podcast, hosted by our beat reporter Kerry Crowley. We give you an all-access look at the 2020 regular season with soundbites from manager Gabe Kapler and your favorite Giants players plus the latest analysis on every move during an unprecedented season.

We Need Your Support!
Several Giants articles will remain free every 30 days – and I’ve launched a free newsletter and podcast that come Monday-Friday – but for access to all of my coverage you’ll need to subscribe to MercuryNews.com or EastBayTimes.com. Click here for our latest Mercury News offer and here for the latest East Bay Times offer. Thank you! — Kerry Crowley

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