Weekend Update: Wild Card Races Tighten As Season's End Nears

Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays slaps high fives with teammates after the final out against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rays won the game 8-5. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves lost some ground in the Wild Card races over the weekend. Also, other stuff happened, too!

If you are reading this, it's probably because you weren't paying attention to baseball over the weekend. If you were paying attention to baseball over the weekend, I'm gonna be honest, there are probably better ways you could be spending your time. Now, if you weren't paying attention to baseball over the weekend, how come? Pro football? College football? Family stuff? Outdoorsy stuff? Other stuff?

Don't answer that. I don't care. We're not friends and the internet is no place for small talk. What matters is that you're here to read about what happened in baseball over the weekend, so here are the major things that happened in baseball over the weekend:

The AL Wild Card race stayed interesting
Four games behind the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card, last Thursday the Rays kicked off a crucial four-game series in Fenway Park. They won Thursday night, and then over the weekend, they won twice more, narrowing the gap to two. Two games is still a significant difference with but a week and a half left in the season, especially given that the Rays are staring at two upcoming series against the Yankees, but what matters is that the race is close and as yet undecided. The Red Sox had a chance to all but put the Rays away, and they couldn't. Also, the Angels are lingering at four back.

The San Francisco Giants kept rolling
Saturday, September 10, the Giants lost to the Dodgers 3-0, falling to 75-70 and 8-1/2 games behind the Braves. Sunday, September 18, the Giants beat the Rockies 12-5, improving to 83-70 and four games behind the Braves. The Giants are riding an eight-game winning streak during which they've scored 57 runs, which is one more run than they had scored in their previous 21 games. Their playoff odds are still incredibly slim, but they're not zero, and if nothing else at least now the Giants might finish with a positive run differential.

The NL Wild Card race stayed interesting
So I mentioned that the Giants are streaking. Well, also over the weekend, the Braves lost two of three to the Mets, and the Cardinals took two of three from the Phillies. Atlanta now has a Wild Card lead of 3-1/2 over St. Louis, and four over San Francisco. That's a comfortable lead that would require some effort to blow, but it's a less comfortable lead than the Braves used to have, and the Cardinals close with six games against the Cubs and the Astros. I'm just saying, it's not impossible.

Justin Verlander kept rolling
Sunday afternoon, the Tigers blanked the A's 3-0, behind eight scoreless innings from Justin Verlander. The win boosted Verlander's record to 24-5, and more amazingly, it was Verlander's 12th in a row. Verlander has started 12 games since July 21, and he's gone 12-0 with a 2.28 ERA. The last starter to win 12 games in a row was Johan Santana in 2004 with the Twins. Before that, it was Brad Radke, in 1997 with the Twins. Now the Twins have found a way into my weekend update. The Twins should be glad I'm talking about older editions of the team, because the current edition is terrible. Now I have gotten off track. Verlander! He's awesome!

Mariano Rivera tied a record
Saturday afternoon, the Yankees took on the Blue Jays in Toronto and trailed 6-1 after five innings. An hour and a half later, Mariano Rivera nailed down his 601st career regular season save, tying Trevor Hoffman's all-time record. So there were two amazing things about that game. Rivera did not pick up number 602 on Sunday, and the Yankees now play their next eight games at home, so this should be fun. Championships shouldn't be won on the road, and records shouldn't be broken on the road.

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