Postseason watch: Giants first to clinch

7:15 AM UTC

The Giants became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2021 postseason Monday, defeating the Padres by a 9-1 final score. September 13 marks the earliest date in franchise history that the club has been able to clinch a playoff spot.

The Padres, meanwhile, dropped their fourth consecutive game and are on the outside looking in as the Reds now have sole possession of the second National League Wild Card spot. The Cardinals defeated the Mets 7-0 on Monday and are now deadlocked with the Padres just a half-game behind the Reds. Philadelphia remained 2 1/2 games back while the Mets are now 3 1/2 games behind with four teams ahead of them in the standings.

Toronto secured its hold on the first Wild Card slot in the American League with yet another win, rushing by the Rays 8-1, while the Red Sox dropped their series opener to the Mariners 5-4. Boston is now in a virtual tie with the Yankees — who won a thrilling 6-5 extra-inning matinee earlier in the day — for the AL’s fifth and final seed.

While a lot can happen in the standings between now and when the postseason starts on Oct. 5, here is what the playoff picture looks like heading into Monday.

Reminder: While Major League Baseball expanded the postseason field to 16 teams for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, there once again will be only 10 playoff teams in 2021. Both the AL and NL will have three division winners and two Wild Card teams, who will face off in a win-or-go-home Wild Card Game for the right to advance to the Division Series.

IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY:
AL Wild Card Game (Oct. 5)

Yankees/Red Sox at Blue Jays

NL Wild Card Game (Oct. 6)
Reds at Dodgers

AL Division Series (starts Oct. 7)
Best-of-five format
Wild Card Game winner at Rays
White Sox at Astros

NL Division Series (starts Oct. 8)
Best-of-five format
Wild Card Game winner at Giants
Braves at Brewers

WHO HAS CLINCHED: San Francisco Giants

WHO IS NEXT: The Dodgers appear to be next in line for clinching a playoff berth as their magic number is down to two. In terms of a division title, the Brewers still have a magic number of five to clinch the NL Central after an off-day Monday.

Tight races to watch
NL West: Giants lead Dodgers by 2 1/2 games
NL East: Braves lead Phillies by 4 1/2 games
AL Wild Card:
Yankees and Red Sox are in virtual tie for the final spot, lead Mariners by two games and A’s by 2 1/2 games
NL Wild Card:
Reds lead the Padres and Cardinals by a 1/2 game, Phillies by 2 1/2 games and Mets by 3 1/2 games

Trending up: The Blue Jays are 12-1 this month and have scored 114 — yes, 114 — runs across their 13 September games.

Trending down: The Yankees are just 4-8 in September thanks in part to a 4.95 team ERA. The Yanks have allowed a league-high 56 walks through 12 games this month as well as 24 home runs, which is tied for the most surrendered across MLB.

CONTENDER BREAKDOWN
Clinched postseason berth:
Giants
Almost there (90% postseason odds or better, per FanGraphs):
Brewers, Dodgers, Rays, White Sox, Astros, Braves
In good shape (50-89% postseason odds):
Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees
In the mix (10-49% postseason odds):
Reds, Padres, Cardinals, Phillies
Still alive (postseason odds above 1%):
Athletics, Mets, Mariners

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