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Astros take AL West title with 100th win, A's loss

James delivers 5 frames of 1-run ball as Bregman powers offense
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

TORONTO -- The champagne is on ice.

The Astros reached 100 wins for the second year in a row, and third time in team history, and won their second consecutive American League West title after a 4-1 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, coupled with the Athletics' 10-8 defeat to the Mariners. Houston will celebrate the division title following Wednesday's game in Toronto.

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TORONTO -- The champagne is on ice.

The Astros reached 100 wins for the second year in a row, and third time in team history, and won their second consecutive American League West title after a 4-1 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, coupled with the Athletics' 10-8 defeat to the Mariners. Houston will celebrate the division title following Wednesday's game in Toronto.

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Tweet from @astros: Never gets old. 👑 pic.twitter.com/PrunD4VEAw

"It's hard to win in this league in general," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It's really hard to win in this league when everybody expects it and you have such a small margin for error when there's a reaction every time you don't win. To be at 100 and climbing is remarkable for this team, and we should be very proud."

Video: Must C Conclusion: M's walk off A's as Astros clinch

Houston will face Cleveland in the AL Division Series. The Astros took the season series from the Indians, 4-3, outscoring the Tribe, 45-29.

FAQs Astros face as they head to playoffs

"You look around the league and not too many people get to be a part of a postseason team and a 100-win season," Astros outfielder Josh Reddick said. "Most of us in this locker room got back-to-back 100-win seasons, so it's a very big accomplishment for a lot of us in here as individuals and as a team. It's pretty special."

Video: HOU@TOR: Bregman lifts off with a 2-run smash in 1st

The Astros won their franchise-record 54th road game of the season and improved to a Major League-best 18-4 in September.

"We have 100 wins and honestly have been banged up all year," Astros shortstop Alex Bregman said. "We really haven't played our best baseball until lately. That's a good sign heading into the postseason. I like to be playing our best baseball at the end of the year. I think we did last year and won the World Series. I think we're in a good spot right now."

Astros rookie right-hander Josh James held the Blue Jays to one run and four hits in five innings, and Bregman clubbed a two-run home run in the first inning -- his team-high 31st of the season -- to put Houston ahead, 2-0.

Video: HOU@TOR: James polishes off 5 innings of 1-run ball

The only run James allowed came on a solo homer to Billy McKinney in the third that cut the lead to 2-1, but the Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and pushed across two runs -- on a Tyler White single and sacrifice fly by Evan Gattis, that followed a misplay by Blue Jays center fielder Jonathan Davis on a Reddick pop fly.

Video: HOU@TOR: Reddick reaches, Astros load bases on error

For the second night in a row, Houston relievers covered four scoreless innings, with Ryan Pressly striking out Justin Smoak on three pitches to strand the bases loaded in the seventh.

Video: HOU@TOR: Pressly fans Smoak with bases full in 7th

"We did just enough tonight to win," Hinch said. "We got a big swing from Bregman that put us up and James did a good job of getting us to the middle of the game. Our bullpen -- Tony Sipp had a great inning, Pressly continues to come in and get a huge out and [Hector] Rondon has looked as good as he's looked in recent times and [Roberto] Osuna gets the save. It mapped out perfectly for us."

Video: HOU@TOR: Osuna notches 20th save in Astros' 100th win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rondon retired all three batters he faced in the eighth inning, which was a big development for the Astros. About four or five days ago, the Astros tinkered with the struggling reliever's mechanics to help him extend and get his pitches where he needed them. He had allowed 13 hits and nine runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last five outings.

"That was really good to see him clean his delivery up and be effective in the zone with some movement and get the ball on the ground against some left-handed hitters," Hinch said. "That was a plus."

Video: HOU@TOR: Hinch on Bregman, Astros notching 100 wins

SOUND SMART
The Astros are only the fifth defending World Series champion to win at least 100 games in the divisional era, joining the 1971 Orioles, 1976 Reds, 1978 Yankees and 1990 A's. All four of those teams returned to the Fall Classic. The Reds and Yankees successfully defended their titles.

Video: Astros win AL West for second straight year

HE SAID IT
"I love Pressly against anybody in the league right now." -- Hinch

UP NEXT
Reliever Chris Devenski (2-2, 4.12 ERA) will get the start for the Astros in Wednesday's 3:07 p.m. CT series final against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Astros are expected to use relief pitchers throughout the game, including Lance McCullers Jr. in his first appearance since coming off the DL. Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley (2-4, 5.40) will start for the Blue Jays.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros, Alex Bregman, Josh James

John Gibbons won't be back as Toronto skipper

MLB.com @DeeshaThosar

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will not be back as manager next season, Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reports, confirming an earlier report by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, who said Toronto will make an announcement today.

Gibbons managed Toronto for two stints -- once from 2004-08 and again from 2013-18. In 2015, Gibbons led the Blue Jays to their first postseason berth in 22 years. Toronto lost to Kansas City in the American League Championship Series in six games.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will not be back as manager next season, Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reports, confirming an earlier report by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, who said Toronto will make an announcement today.

Gibbons managed Toronto for two stints -- once from 2004-08 and again from 2013-18. In 2015, Gibbons led the Blue Jays to their first postseason berth in 22 years. Toronto lost to Kansas City in the American League Championship Series in six games.

In an 89-73 season, he led the club to another playoff berth in '16. Toronto lost to Cleveland in the ALCS in five games.

The Blue Jays entered Wednesday in fourth place in the American League East with a 71-87 record. Gibbons' overall record as manager is 791-787.

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

Toronto Blue Jays

Rox move into 2nd WC, half-game back in West

Colorado wins 5th straight game; Dahl homers during 4-RBI night
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- The Coors Field crowd emitted a hopeful gasp as David Dahl's opposite-way fly ball to left field kissed the sky. Then it descended just about a foot beyond the wall on a night and at a time when the world is falling the Rockies' way.

Dahl's third-inning three-run homer helped the Rockies win their fifth straight game, 10-3, over the Phillies, vaulting them into the second National League Wild Card position and to just a half-game back of the NL West-leading Dodgers.

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DENVER -- The Coors Field crowd emitted a hopeful gasp as David Dahl's opposite-way fly ball to left field kissed the sky. Then it descended just about a foot beyond the wall on a night and at a time when the world is falling the Rockies' way.

Dahl's third-inning three-run homer helped the Rockies win their fifth straight game, 10-3, over the Phillies, vaulting them into the second National League Wild Card position and to just a half-game back of the NL West-leading Dodgers.

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The Rockies, a 26-season-old club that has never won a division title, have five regular-season games left, at home against the now-eliminated Phillies for two more and Nationals for three, and are tied with Los Angeles in the loss column.

• What happens if there's a 4-way tie in NL?

"The game's on right now," Dahl said, looking up at the Dodgers-D-backs on TV while being interviewed. "You definitely want to keep up, but you try not to get too into it. You want to come to the field every day and win. Because now we control our destiny, so we've got to keep winning."

Video: PHI@COL: Dahl singles for his 4th RBI of the game

Dahl -- who went 3-for-5 with four RBIs -- led a 14-hit attack that powered Colorado on the same night the Cardinals dropped behind them in the Wild Card race with a 12-4 loss to the Brewers, and the Dodgers lost to the D-backs, 4-3, on Eduardo Escobar's walk-off home run off Kenta Maeda.

Dahl's 12th homer of the season was a repeat of his opposite-way homer in Monday's 10-1 game -- doubtful until it dropped into fan land.

"I didn't really think I got it, but I'm glad I did," Dahl said.

Charlie Blackmon extended his career-best hit streak to 17 games with two hits, including an RBI double, DJ LeMahieu had a pair of RBI singles and Carlos Gonzalez emerged from the bench for a fifth-inning two-run double for his first RBIs since a bases-loaded triple against the Giants on Sept. 4. All the offense was needed on a night when the Rockies used seven relievers.

Video: PHI@COL: Blackmon extends hitting streak to 17 games

The timing of Dahl's homer, off Vince Velasquez (9-12) with the Rockies down, 1-0, was significant.

"People don't talk about momentum enough," said Blackmon, who singled two batters before Dahl's homer. "That was one of those moments where we captured the momentum."

Video: PHI@COL: Blackmon lifts an RBI double to left in 4th

Because lefty Tyler Anderson's shoulder injury -- which pushed him out of Monday's start -- left a hole in the rotation, Chad Bettis made his first start since Aug. 12 and gave up one unearned run while throwing 33 pitches over 2 2/3 innings. A walk and Trevor Story's error, both with two outs, led to the run.

"I felt as efficient as I could be," Bettis said. "If we would've gotten that one out, I'd have tried to talk my way into the fourth. But I don't know if that would've happened, though."

Video: PHI@COL: Bettis whiffs Quinn for 1st K of the game

Bettis turned the game over to, eventually, seven relievers. DJ Johnson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third; Chris Rusin struck out three against two hits in two innings; Scott Oberg was scoreless for 1 2/3 innings; and Harrison Musgrave ended the eighth by forcing Justin Bour -- left-on-left -- into a double-play grounder.

"We knew what we were in for," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "It was a unique game in a lot of ways for us."

Video: PHI@COL: Black on Bettis' start, bullpen in 10-3 win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After Odubel Herrera's soft opposite-field single drove in an unearned run with two outs in the third inning, Bettis was replaced by Johnson, a 29-year-old rookie who spent his fair share of time in independent ball. Johnson didn't appear in Triple-A until this season and earned a September callup by posting a 3.90 ERA and earning 18 saves at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Staying careful with runners at first and second base, Johnson walked Rhys Hoskins to load the bases. Then he attacked the strike zone against Wilson Ramos, who worked the at-bat to seven pitches before grounding into a fielder's choice to leave the Rockies' deficit at 1-0. Dahl's homer gave Johnson his first Major League win.

"I didn't expect my name to be called in that situation, but Bud's No. 1 rule is to be ready for everything," Johnson said.

Video: PHI@COL: Johnson strands the bases full in the 3rd

RUSIN'S REVIVAL
During Rockies' sweep last weekend at Arizona, Rusin started getting his chance to erase what had been a rough and painful season by performing in the week that matters most. He entered Tuesday with a 6.45 ERA during a season that has seen him made disabled list trips with an oblique strain and plantar fasciitis. He had had gone from one of the Majors' best and most versatile relievers last season to first a mop-up guy and then a lefty specialist of late.

But he knew he had this week.

"Bigger situations slowly had been showing up the last week or so," Rusin said. "I'm just trying to take advantage of those situations. Anyone can get in a game and help the team out."

Finally relaxed in his delivery, after all the fits and starts that came with the injuries, Rusin's misses are no longer dramatic and over the plate. On Tuesday night, he struck out three in the fourth inning and kept the fifth scoreless. By the time his book was closed, the Rockies had an 8-1 lead.

Video: PHI@COL: Rusin gets hit by comebacker gets the out

QUOTABLE
"We've got a few games to go, and we've got to make it all the way there." -- Black, on pulling Blackmon in the sixth inning, adding that the center fielder is healthy

Video: PHI@COL: Bettis, Dahl, Black talk win over Rockies

UP NEXT
Rockies starter German Marquez (13-10, 3.91 ERA) has a clear shot to find himself in the club's record book on Wednesday, when he faces the Phillies and right-hander Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.58) at Coors Field at 6:40 p.m. MT. Marquez has 210 strikeouts and is tied with Pedro Astacio in 1999 for second on the single-season list behind Ubaldo Jimenez's 214 in 2010. Of course, that's secondary to keeping alive his string of 11 consecutive quality starts and upholding his success in his last six home outings (3-1, 2.33).

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, David Dahl

Crew on cusp of clinch, right on Cubs' heels

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

ST. LOUIS -- One more Busch Stadium win, and the Brewers are in.

Milwaukee is that close to claiming at least a National League Wild Card berth after Christian Yelich pushed past 100 RBIs and then some on a career-best six-RBI night, and Ryan Braun homered twice in a 12-4 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday.

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ST. LOUIS -- One more Busch Stadium win, and the Brewers are in.

Milwaukee is that close to claiming at least a National League Wild Card berth after Christian Yelich pushed past 100 RBIs and then some on a career-best six-RBI night, and Ryan Braun homered twice in a 12-4 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday.

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But manager Craig Counsell & Co. are aiming for better than a Wild Card.

"The division is what's on our minds right now," Counsell said.

Video: MIL@STL: Counsell on Yelich, Braun in 12-4 win

First things first. If the Brewers can complete a three-game sweep of the Cardinals behind Jhoulys Chacin on Wednesday, it will ensure Milwaukee a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2011. A clubhouse celebration would ensue, even as the chase continues for the NL Central crown.

That is very much in play after the first-place Cubs absorbed a second straight loss at home to the Pirates on Tuesday. With four games to go for Milwaukee and five for Chicago, the 91-67 Brewers are within a half-game of their Interstate 94 rival.

"Just embrace it," said Yelich. "You don't shy away from it. You embrace the challenge and understand that it's still the same game you've been playing all season. You have to execute. You have to play well in order for that game to go your way. It's going to be another tough game [Wednesday] in a tough place to play."

Video: MIL@STL: Yelich hits 3-run HR, 3-run triple vs. Cards

In the NL Wild Card standings, the Brewers are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Rockies, who leapfrogged the Cardinals into the second spot Tuesday after beating the fading Phillies. The Cardinals are a half-game behind the Rockies and no longer control their own destiny.

"[The Brewers] are swinging the bats well and getting the big hits and we're not," said Cards infielder Jedd Gyorko. "I think it's safe to say that we need to win the rest of the games. That's how we're going to take it."

The Brewers led wire to wire after Jesus Aguilar and Braun delivered consecutive two-out home runs off Cardinals starter Austin Gomber for a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Braun's part of a two-homer, three-RBI night that gave him three home runs and five RBIs in the first two games of the series.

Video: MIL@STL: Aguilar, Braun hit back-to-back jacks in 1st

That advantage grew to 6-0 with a four-run fourth inning capped by a three-run triple for Yelich, and to 12-4 in the ninth when Yelich smashed a two-out, three-run home run to straightaway center field after St. Louis intentionally walked Lorenzo Cain to get to him with two outs.

With four regular-season games to go, Yelich leads the NL with a .321 average, a .973 OPS, 159 weighted runs created plus and a .412 weighted on-base average -- to go with 33 homers and 104 RBIs.

Does that sound like an MVP?

"I mean I can't foresee a scenario in which he doesn't win it," said Braun.

And what about Braun, who missed some time last week with back tightness, only to rediscover his power when the Brewers needed it? Before hitting three home runs in the first two games of this series in St. Louis, including his 31st career multi-homer night, Braun had one home run in his previous 28 games.

Video: MIL@STL: Braun swats 2 homers against the Cardinals

"I came to the ballpark [Monday] and I told everybody I felt really good, I had a feeling I hadn't felt all year," said Braun, the only player remaining from Milwaukee's last postseason entry. "Just the adrenaline, the excitement of playing a series that felt like a postseason series is one of those feelings that you search for but you can't force. It kind of has to come out organically, and it comes when you play a series of this magnitude that feels like a postseason series. It's fun for me. It's fun for all of us."

The Cardinals got as close as 6-3 on Yadier Molina's three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth off Gio Gonzalez, and 7-4 in the fifth. But Milwaukee improved to 4-0 in Gonzalez's starts after six relievers held St. Louis to one run after the fourth inning.

Video: MIL@STL: Molina plates 3 with his 20th HR of the year

On Wednesday, the champagne will be iced. The Brewers hope to not have to transport it back to Milwaukee.

"It's a good place to be," Braun said. "We're not taking anything for granted. It's going to be a tough one to get. [The Cardinals] understand what's on the line tomorrow night so I'm sure it will be a battle as the last two nights have been."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fifth-inning escape: The Cardinals were positioned to do damage in the fifth inning, when they quickly chased Xavier Cedeno and then went single, sacrifice fly, infield single against Taylor Williams to cut the deficit to 7-4 with the bases loaded and one out. In a 2-1 count, Williams jammed Gyorko with a fastball for a chopper to Mike Moustakas, who stepped on third base and fired across to first, where Aguilar did the splits to complete an inning-ending double play.

Video: MIL@STL: Moustakas, Aguilar turn inning-ending DP

"I thought Taylor threw the ball beautifully," Counsell said. "They had some momentum on their side. He kept his composure and made some huge pitches. I thought he executed a whole bunch of pitches tonight. That's what you've got to do. There's craziness going on around you and it's getting loud, and they're feeling it, and he just kept executing pitches. That's a big step forward for him. That's the biggest moment he's been in and he came through with flying colors. I'm proud of him for that."

Seventh-inning escape: It was still 7-4 in the seventh, when Corey Knebel, pitching for the third straight day and the fourth time in five days, and coming off a save in place of Jeremy Jeffress in Monday's series opener, found big trouble in a charged inning. Knebel appeared to get a break when a curveball was called strike three against Matt Carpenter -- Carpenter and Cards manager Mike Shildt were ejected for arguing -- but St. Louis eventually loaded the bases with two outs. Again the hitter was Gyorko, who fell behind 0-2 before flying out to right field, stranding the tying runner on base.

Video: MIL@STL: Knebel escapes bases-loaded jam in the 7th

"He's been a big, big reason for this September," said Counsell. "You can talk obviously a lot about Christian but the next guy has been Corey. He has been absolutely huge in the month of September."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Orlando Arcia didn't start Tuesday's game, but he turned in the night's signature defensive play. Second baseman Hernan Perez cut in front of the shortstop Arcia when speedy Harrison Bader hit a one-out bouncer up the middle. Despite the distraction, Arcia barehanded the baseball and made an on-target throw to first for the out.

Video: MIL@STL: Arcia makes incredible barehanded play

HE SAID IT
"If it happens, the time comes, you should celebrate. Some of these guys have never experienced that kind of excitement and I don't see anything wrong with it. These guys deserve it. These guys have been busting their tail all year. Why not? Hopefully we do it sooner than later. It's one of those things that once these guys have it, it's going to be a nice sigh of relief. -- Gonzalez, on the prospect of popping champagne bottles Wednesday night

UP NEXT
Chacin, who is lined up to start a potential NL Wild Card Game for Milwaukee, will make his final regular-season start Wednesday when the Brewers and Cardinals conclude their series at 6:10 p.m. CT. Chacin was 0-7 in his first nine career games (eight starts) against the Cardinals before getting a win at Busch Stadium with six scoreless innings on Aug. 19. He'll make his career-high 34th start opposite St. Louis right-hander John Gant.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar, Ryan Braun, Christian Yelich

Postseason Picture: Where we are right now

A closer look at the divisions, Wild Cards and tiebreakers
MLB.com

Even though their teams have already been eliminated from the postseason, Chris Herrmann and Eduardo Escobar each made a big impact on the postseason picture with a mighty swing of the bat on Tuesday night.

Herrmann launched a walk-off homer in the 11th inning to push the Mariners past the A's in a thriller at Safeco Field, officially handing the American League West title to the Astros for the second straight year, and relegating Oakland to a spot in the AL Wild Card Game against the Yankees. Meanwhile, Escobar's ninth-inning shot off Kenta Maeda lifted the D-backs to a walk-off win over the Dodgers, who saw their lead in the National League West dwindle to a half-game over the Rockies.

Even though their teams have already been eliminated from the postseason, Chris Herrmann and Eduardo Escobar each made a big impact on the postseason picture with a mighty swing of the bat on Tuesday night.

Herrmann launched a walk-off homer in the 11th inning to push the Mariners past the A's in a thriller at Safeco Field, officially handing the American League West title to the Astros for the second straight year, and relegating Oakland to a spot in the AL Wild Card Game against the Yankees. Meanwhile, Escobar's ninth-inning shot off Kenta Maeda lifted the D-backs to a walk-off win over the Dodgers, who saw their lead in the National League West dwindle to a half-game over the Rockies.

Those Rockies, by the way, climbed back into the second Wild Card spot in the NL with another blowout win over Philadelphia and some help from the Brewers, who crushed the Cardinals in a critical matchup to consolidate their grip on the first NL Wild Card while pushing St. Louis out of a playoff spot. But the Brewers have their sights set beyond the Wild Card, closing to within a half-game of the Cubs for the NL Central lead after Chris Archer and the Pirates silenced Chicago's bats at Wrigley Field.

Postseason bracket

Here is a division-by-division breakdown of the playoff picture, recapping Tuesday's action and taking a look at where each contender stands heading into today. Within each division, clubs are listed in order of current standing.

Explaining tiebreaker scenarios for '18 postseason

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

RED SOX (106-51, .675)

Status: Clinched AL East; clinched best record in MLB.

Yesterday's result: Postponed vs. BAL. More >

Key tiebreaker: Guranteed the best record in baseball, Boston is locked in as the first seed for the AL in the postseason, with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Today's schedule: vs. BAL (1:05 p.m. ET); vs. BAL (7:10 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Friday-Sunday vs. NYY

Video: BAL@BOS: Red Sox get franchise record, home field

YANKEES (97-60, .618)

Status: Clinched AL Wild Card spot. Lead OAK by 2 1/2 games for first AL Wild Card.

Magic number: 2 (to clinch first AL Wild Card)

Yesterday's result: Beat TB, 9-2. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: If the Yankees and A's tie for the two AL Wild Card spots, home field in the Wild Card Game would go to the winner of the season series, but with each club having won three games, the tiebreaker would go to the club with the better intradivision record. The Yankees (41-30 vs. AL East) hold a lead over the A's (36-36 vs. AL West) in that regard.

Today's schedule: at TB (7:10 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Friday-Sunday at BOS

Video: NYY@TB: Sanchez smashes a 3-run jack to left field

AL CENTRAL

INDIANS (88-69, .561)

Status: Clinched AL Central.

Yesterday's result: Lost to CWS, 5-4. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: Cleveland is locked in as the third seed in the AL for the postseason.

Today's schedule: at CWS (8:10 p.m. ET) 

Video: CLE@CWS: Bauer fans Moncada to end the 4th

AL WEST

ASTROS (100-57, .637)

Status: Clinched AL West.

Yesterday's result: Beat TOR, 4-1. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: Houston is locked in as the second seed in the AL for the postseason.

Today's schedule: at TOR (7:07 p.m. ET)

Video: HOU@TOR: McCann, Reddick crush back-to-back home runs

ATHLETICS (95-63, .601)

Status: Clinched AL Wild Card spot. Trail NYY by 2 1/2 games for first AL Wild Card.

Elimination number: 2 (for first AL Wild Card)

Yesterday's result: Lost to SEA, 10-8 (11 innings). Recap >

Key tiebreaker: If the A's and Yankees tie for the two AL Wild Card spots, home field in the Wild Card Game would go to the winner of the season series, but with both teams having won three games, the tiebreaker would go to the club with the better intradivision record. The Yankees (41-30 vs. AL East) hold a lead over the A's (36-36 vs. AL West) in that regard.

Today's schedule: at SEA (10:10 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Wednesday at SEA

Video: OAK@SEA: Semien swats a solo home run to left field

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

BRAVES (89-68, .567)

Status: Clinched NL East. Trail CHC by 2 games for No. 1 seed in NL; lead LAD by 1 1/2 games for No. 2 seed in NL.

Yesterday's result: Beat NYM, 7-3. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: In the event of a tie for the best record in the NL, the higher seed would be determined by intradivision record, since the Braves and Cubs each won three games apiece in the season series. Atlanta (48-23) is assured of finishing with a better intradivision record than Chicago (37-34). In the event of a tie for the second seed in the NL, the Dodgers would be awarded the second seed by virtue of winning the season series with the Braves, 5-2.

Today's schedule: at NYM (7:10 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Wednesday-Thursday at NYM, Friday-Sunday at PHI

Video: ATL@NYM: Acuna Jr. lines go-ahead hit in 4-run 7th

NL CENTRAL

CUBS (91-66, .580)

Status: Lead MIL by a half-game and STL by 4 1/2 games in NL Central; lead ATL by 2 games for No. 1 seed in NL.

Magic numbers: 5 (to clinch NL Central); 1 (to clinch playoff spot)

Yesterday's result: Lost to PIT, 6-0. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: In the event of a tiebreaker game for the division title, the Cubs would have home-field advantage over the Brewers, by virtue of their 11-8 record vs. Milwaukee in the season series. In the event of a tie for the best record in the NL, the higher seed would be determined by intradivision record, since the Cubs and Braves each won three games apiece in the season series. Atlanta (48-23) would be awarded the higher seed over Chicago (37-34).

Today's schedule: vs. PIT (8:05 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Friday-Sunday vs. STL

Video: PIT@CHC: Baez ranges for stop, throws on run for out

BREWERS (91-67, .576)

Status: Trail CHC by a half-game in NL Central; lead COL by 3 1/2 games for first NL Wild Card.

Magic number: 1 (to clinch playoff spot)

Elimination number: 5 (for NL Central)

Yesterday's result: Beat STL, 12-4. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: With their win on tuesday, the Brewers clinched the season series over the Cardinals, 10-8, and would have home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game if the two clubs finished tied for both Wild Card spots.

Today's schedule: at STL (7:10 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Wednesday at STL

Video: MIL@STL: Yelich, Braun, Aguilar power Brewers to win

CARDINALS (87-71, .551)

Status: Trail CHC by 4 1/2 games in NL Central; trail COL by a half-game for second NL Wild Card spot.

Elimination numbers: 1 (for NL Central); 5 (for second NL Wild Card)

Yesterday's result: Lost to MIL, 12-4. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: With their win on Tuesday, the Brewers clinched the season series over the Cardinals, 10-8, and would have home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game if the two clubs finished tied for both Wild Card spots. Should St. Louis finish tied with Colorado for the second NL Wild Card spot, the Cardinals would host a tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series, 5-2.

Today's schedule: vs. MIL (7:10 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Wednesday vs. MIL, Friday-Sunday at CHC

Video: MIL@STL: Molina plates 3 with his 20th HR of the year

NL WEST

DODGERS (88-70, .557)

Status: Lead COL by a half-game in NL West; trail ATL by 1 1/2 games for No. 2 seed in NL.

Magic number: 5 (to clinch NL West)

Yesterday's result: Lost to ARI, 4-3. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: Should there be a tiebreaker game for the division title, Los Angeles is currently in position to host the Rockies because it won the season series, 12-7. The Dodgers lost the season series to the Cardinals, 4-3, so in the event of a tie for a Wild Card spot, Los Angeles would play at St. Louis. In the event of a tie for the second seed in the NL, the Dodgers would be awarded the second seed by virtue of winning the season series against the Braves, 5-2.

Today's schedule: at ARI (9:40 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Wednesday at ARI

Video: LAD@ARI: Hernandez ties the game with a single in 7th

ROCKIES (87-70, .554)

Status: Trail LAD by a half-game in NL West; lead STL by a half-game for second NL Wild Card spot.

Magic number: 5 (to clinch second NL Wild Card)

Elimination number: 5 (for NL West)

Yesterday's result: Beat PHI, 10-3. Recap >

Key tiebreaker: In the event of a tie for first place in the division, there would be a tiebreaker game to determine the NL West champion. The Rockies would be on the road for such a game against the Dodgers due to the result of their season series against Los Angeles (7-12). If there is a tie for the second NL Wild Card spot, the Rockies would travel to St. Louis for a tiebreaker game as a result of losing the season series to the Cardinals, 5-2.

Today's schedule: vs. PHI (8:40 p.m. ET)

Key series remaining: Wednesday-Thursday vs. PHI

Video: PHI@COL: Dahl lifts a 3-run homer to left in the 3rd

POSTSEASON PICTURE

If the playoffs began today, here's how they would look:

Postseason schedule

NL Wild Card Game (Tues., Oct. 2)
Rockies at Brewers

AL Wild Card Game (Wed., Oct. 3)
Athletics at Yankees

NL Division Series (begins Thurs., Oct. 4)
NL Wild Card Game winner at Cubs
Dodgers at Braves

AL Division Series (begins Fri., Oct. 5)
AL Wild Card Game winner at Red Sox
Indians at Astros

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros

Yanks ride 7-run 3rd, draw closer to home field

Sanchez homers, racks up 4 RBIs; Severino rolls to 19th win
MLB.com @BryanHoch

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees maintained their confidence while Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino scuffled through the second half of the season, believing that their track records pointed toward better performances ahead. That faith was rewarded on Tuesday evening, boosting hopes that the pair of "Baby Bombers" could be turning the corner.

Sanchez enjoyed his first four-RBI game since early April, homering as part of a seven-run third inning, and Severino reclaimed some of his swagger by earning his 19th victory with five effective innings as the Yankees rolled to a 9-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees maintained their confidence while Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino scuffled through the second half of the season, believing that their track records pointed toward better performances ahead. That faith was rewarded on Tuesday evening, boosting hopes that the pair of "Baby Bombers" could be turning the corner.

Sanchez enjoyed his first four-RBI game since early April, homering as part of a seven-run third inning, and Severino reclaimed some of his swagger by earning his 19th victory with five effective innings as the Yankees rolled to a 9-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

"This definitely won't be a season that is going to be one of my favorites, for sure, but the good thing is that we still have a couple of games coming up," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "The focus is to concentrate on the next game and concentrate to keep performing and help the team."

Video: NYY@TB: Sanchez plates Stanton on RBI single to left

New York's magic number to secure home-field advantage in the American League Wild Card Game was trimmed to two because it holds the intra-division tiebreaker over the Athletics, who lost to the Mariners late Tuesday in Seattle. New York (97-60) improved to 37 games over .500 for the first time since 2009.

As Severino continues to compete with J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka for the honor of starting the Oct. 3 AL Wild Card Game, the right-hander turned in his third straight encouraging outing, limiting the Rays to two runs and four hits over five innings.

Video: NYY@TB: Severino tosses 5 solid innings in 19th win

Brandon Lowe's two-run, third-inning double stood as the only damage against Severino, who joined the Rays' Blake Snell (21) and the Indians' Corey Kluber (20) as the only pitchers with 19 or more wins this season.

"I feel good," Severino said. "I'm ready for anything. We have Boston next. We have two more games here. We have to focus on those games and then we focus on the postseason."

Sanchez slugged a three-run homer to cap scoring in the seven-run third, which matched an April 21 frame against the Blue Jays as the Yanks' most lucrative of the year.

Video: NYY@TB: Sanchez smashes a 3-run jack to left field

Filling in for injured shortstop Didi Gregorius, Adeiny Hechavarria started the big third inning with a homer off Rays starter Jake Faria, who lasted 2 1/3 innings and permitted three runs. After a Brett Gardner triple, a walk and a scorched 109-mph Aaron Judge liner that Faria somehow caught, Luke Voit greeted Andrew Kittredge with a two-run double.

Sterling references ABBA on Hechavarria HR call

Jalen Beeks issued a bases-loaded walk to Neil Walker and Miguel Andujar lifted a sacrifice fly before Sanchez connected on his 17th homer, a line drive to left. He had been 10-for-66 (.152) since being activated from the disabled list on Sept. 1.

"It's good to help the team, especially when you bring in a couple of runs," Sanchez said. "That's what you want to do. I'm expecting to be more consistent and keep helping the team."

Sanchez helped save a third-inning run by slapping a tag on Ji-Man Choi, who exited the game with an ear laceration and concussion-like symptoms. Sanchez contributed a run-scoring single in the fifth before Andujar padded the Yanks' lead with a solo homer in the ninth, the 26th of his rookie campaign.

Video: TB@NYY: Sanchez hangs on at the dish to nab Choi

"That's why you play the game, to help the team," Sanchez said.

SOUND SMART
The Yankees have hit 255 home runs this season as they continue to pursue a single-season record held by the 1997 Mariners (264). New York has the fifth-highest total at the moment, also trailing the 2005 Rangers (260), 2010 Blue Jays (257) and 1996 Orioles (257).

Video: TB@NYY: Andujar lifts a solo homer to left in the 9th

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The 109-mph missile that Faria snared in the third inning was the second-hardest ball put in play by Judge since his activation from the disabled list, behind only a 112.1-mph lineout to right field against Boston's Nathan Eovaldi in his first at-bat on Sept. 18. More >

Video: NYY@TB: Faria snags Judge's sharp comebacker in 3rd

Cutch giddy after redeeming himself

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Yankees challenged in the sixth when Judge was called out at first for the third out of the inning. After a review of 52 seconds, the call was overturned, giving Judge an infield single.

Video: NYY@TB: Judge singles after review in the 6th inning

UP NEXT
The Yankees have not decided on their starter for the AL Wild Card Game, and Tanaka (12-5, 3.67 ERA) will have another chance to state his case as the club continues a four-game visit to Tropicana Field on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Tanaka has permitted two earned runs or fewer in nine of his last 12 starts. Right-hander Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.70) will start for the Rays.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Adeiny Hechavarria, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Luke Voit

A's rare late stumble widens gap for top WC

Chapman error opens window for Mariners to rally in 9th, win in 11th
MLB.com @JaneMLB

SEATTLE -- Less than 24 hours after celebrating their improbable postseason berth with a messy champagne celebration, the A's didn't let up when they returned to the field, striking for eight runs.

Yet they also left 10 on base, and a two-out error by third baseman Matt Chapman in the ninth inning set up Kyle Seager's game-tying single against A's closer Blake Treinen. The Mariners later walked off under the watch of righty Emilio Pagan, who surrendered a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Chris Herrmann in the 11th inning of a 10-8 loss -- Oakland's first this year when leading after seven innings.

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SEATTLE -- Less than 24 hours after celebrating their improbable postseason berth with a messy champagne celebration, the A's didn't let up when they returned to the field, striking for eight runs.

Yet they also left 10 on base, and a two-out error by third baseman Matt Chapman in the ninth inning set up Kyle Seager's game-tying single against A's closer Blake Treinen. The Mariners later walked off under the watch of righty Emilio Pagan, who surrendered a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Chris Herrmann in the 11th inning of a 10-8 loss -- Oakland's first this year when leading after seven innings.

View Full Game Coverage

They were 68-0 in previous attempts.

Shop postseason gear

"I don't know how many times that's happened, and not in any seasons that I've managed, so it happened once," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Certainly a pretty good track record up until this point."

Video: OAK@SEA: Seager ties the game in 9th with RBI single

The loss significantly lessened the A's chances of hosting the American League Wild Card Game; with four to play, they trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games for the top spot, which comes with the perk of home-field advantage. Oakland's loss also helped the Astros clinch the AL West title.

The A's would prefer to treat their own fans to a playoff game -- the Coliseum hasn't seen one since 2013 -- rather than tackle the winner-take-all tilt within the confines of Yankee Stadium. Yet playing on the road doesn't startle them; the A's have thrived away from home this season, going 45-32.

The A's day-after lineup featured two fewer regulars, yet they managed just fine without Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty, compiling 16 hits -- including three from leadoff man Nick Martini, and two apiece from Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie, Matt Olson and Matt Joyce, who made good on his first start since July 3. Shortstop Marcus Semien, who repeatedly refuses rest, collected his 14th homer of the season, giving the A's a Major League-leading 128 on the road.

Video: OAK@SEA: Martini rips a 2-run triple into the corner

Lefty Brett Anderson had a less-than-stellar outing, though, allowing five runs on seven hits -- including homers to Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura -- in 2 1/3 innings to barely outlast Mariners starter Mike Leake, who was knocked around for six runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Melvin, who would prefer to rest his relief arms leading into October, instead was forced to use seven of them. He said postgame that Lou Trivino (sore neck) and Cory Gearrin (triceps) were unavailable.

"Today was just one of those days where I felt like it took perfect pitches to get them out and everything in play either found a hole or was hit hard," Anderson said. "If I do any semblance of my job, we should've won this game. Unfortunately that wasn't the case."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The A's bullpen staved off the Mariners for much of the way, before Fernando Rodney surrendered two runs to his former team to make it a one-run game after eight. Treinen recorded two quick outs, but Cruz tagged him for a single, and Ryon Healy joined him on the bases when Chapman bobbled a ground ball, leading to Seager's game-changing hit.

Treinen was consequently hit with his fifth blown save and first since July 21.

"Just bobbled it," Melvin said. "That's not what lost the game for us. We left 10 on base, had some opportunities to score a bit more. It never comes down to one play. As good as he's been, we need to pick him up, too."

Video: OAK@SEA: Healy reaches on fielding error by Chapman

HE SAID IT
"Maybe I should've partied a little bit harder last night. I did the responsible thing and went home and got a good night's sleep and wasn't hungover today. And maybe I should've gone a little harder and had better results." -- Anderson, on the A's clinching celebration

UP NEXT
Right-hander Edwin Jackson, a candidate to start next week's Wild Card Game, will toe the rubber for Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. PT series finale in Seattle. The Mariners will counter with right-hander Felix Hernandez (8-13, 5.46). Jackson held the Mariners to one run over six innings on Sept. 2.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics

Dodgers' lead cut to half-game by walk-off HR

MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers started the D-backs' September downfall with a trio of late-inning wins at Dodger Stadium, and Arizona flipped the script on Tuesday night, getting to the Dodgers' bullpen for a 4-3 walk-off victory that has them clinging to the National League West lead by the slimmest of margins.

With Colorado winning again, Los Angeles' advantage is down to a half-game. The Dodgers' magic number for clinching a sixth consecutive NL West title remains at five with four games to play -- one in Arizona and three in San Francisco.

View Full Game Coverage

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers started the D-backs' September downfall with a trio of late-inning wins at Dodger Stadium, and Arizona flipped the script on Tuesday night, getting to the Dodgers' bullpen for a 4-3 walk-off victory that has them clinging to the National League West lead by the slimmest of margins.

With Colorado winning again, Los Angeles' advantage is down to a half-game. The Dodgers' magic number for clinching a sixth consecutive NL West title remains at five with four games to play -- one in Arizona and three in San Francisco.

View Full Game Coverage

What happens if there's a 4-way tie in NL?

Eduardo Escobar led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off homer on a 3-2 pitch from reliever Kenta Maeda, who was unavailable to the media afterward to discuss whether he was still shaken from the night before, when his 94-mph fastball broke a bone in the face of Christian Walker.

Video: LAD@ARI: Escobar rips walk-off HR vs. Dodgers in 9th

"I think it was getting behind and not executing the fastball," said manager Dave Roberts.

Maeda is being counted on for high-leverage innings, as he was last September and right into the World Series. The walk-off home run he allowed was only one of three disappointing relief appearances by a bullpen that couldn't protect a one-run lead.

In addition to Maeda, Dylan Floro didn't retire any of the four batters he faced while allowing a run, and Zac Rosscup walked the only one he was asked to retire. By contrast, Scott Alexander, Alex Wood and Pedro Baez were effective as the 'pen had to cover nine outs following another effective outing by rookie Walker Buehler, who took a two-hit shutout into his sixth and final inning before David Peralta's two-out, two-run double put the D-backs on the board.

Video: LAD@ARI: Buehler K's 5 over 6 innings of 2-run ball

Roberts hung the loss on his club's offense, which went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left runners at second or third base each of the last three innings.

"It was the situational hitting," said Roberts. "We had three opportunities, and not getting the guys to third base was the difference in the game."

There were offensive highlights. Yasmani Grandal went 3-for-3 with a triple. Cody Bellinger homered. Enrique Hernandez went 2-for-4, tying the game at 2 with an RBI single in the seventh inning and creating another tying run in the ninth with a single and stolen base, taking third on catcher Chris Stewart's throwing error before scoring on pinch-hitter Chris Taylor's double.

Video: LAD@ARI: Hernandez ties the game with a single in 7th

"They're not in the playoffs this year, but you can't discredit that team," Hernandez said of the D-backs. "They have a lot of good players in that lineup. Really good bullpen. Our bullpen has been really good the last few weeks. We're human, we're baseball players, it happens. Just a tough night for them."

The Dodgers were hoping that sweeping the Rockies last week had dealt the kind of death blow they handed the D-backs a few weeks ago by winning the last three games of the four-game series at Dodger Stadium. But Colorado hasn't lost since leaving L.A. with a 2 1/2-game deficit last Wednesday.

"We're not only trying to win a division, but right now we match up against Atlanta and we'd like to start the series at home, so we want to win every game we can, not only to win the division but to start the series with the home-field advantage," Roberts said. "We know the Rockies have a great team, they're hot. They're not going to go without a fight."

Video: LAD@ARI: Roberts on missed opportunities in 4-3 loss

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Dodgers felt they should have scored in the third and eighth innings. In the third, with two on and no outs, Max Muncy struck out and Manny Machado grounded into a double play. In the eighth, Machado led off with a double off rookie reliever Yoan Lopez, but Bellinger flied out and Yasiel Puig and pinch-hitter Alex Verdugo struck out. Lopez celebrated that last pitch so exuberantly that Machado stared him down between innings.

"It was a situation where I was excited," Lopez said. "I respect Machado. I respect what he's all about. He was excited. I was excited. Just like he raised his arm when he hit the double, I raised mine when I had the strikeout. Again, I respect him a lot."

Video: LAD@ARI: Lopez glares at Machado after K in the 8th

SOUND SMART
With Bellinger's 24th long ball, the Dodgers passed the 2000 Giants for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time list for home runs in a single season (227).

Video: LAD@ARI: Bellinger launches a solo home run 422 feet

HE SAID IT
"You don't expect them to [go away]. In a perfect world, maybe, but you can't expect those guys to lay down. They're a good ballclub and they're winning games they have to win. Their backs are against the wall. We have to more concern ourselves with how we play and beating the Diamondbacks tomorrow." -- Roberts, on Colorado not folding after being swept by the Dodgers last week

UP NEXT
In Wednesday night's 6:40 p.m. PT series finale, Ross Stripling will square off with former Dodger Zack Greinke. Stripling had a breakthrough first half that was rewarded with an All-Star nod, but he's only lasted 3 1/3 innings in each of his three starts since returning from the disabled list and lower back pain.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kenta Maeda

Scherzer hits 300 K's, earns 18th win

Ace becomes first righty to accomplish feat since 2002 in push for NL Cy Young Award
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The crowd at Nationals Park hung on every pitch as they sensed it was near, clapping and chanting along, "Let's go, Max! Let's go, Max!" On the mound, Max Scherzer was as focused as ever on pitching himself into the record books once again. He was locked in a 10-pitch battle with Marlins outfielder Austin Dean as he channeled the energy from the crowd and the moment to fire fastballs in the upper 90s.

After Dean fouled off four straight pitches in the seventh inning of the Nationals' 9-4 victory over the Marlins, Scherzer threw one of his nastiest sliders of the night to record his 300th strikeout in the season. Scherzer became just the sixth pitcher since 1990 to record 300 strikeouts in a single season, joining Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale.

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WASHINGTON -- The crowd at Nationals Park hung on every pitch as they sensed it was near, clapping and chanting along, "Let's go, Max! Let's go, Max!" On the mound, Max Scherzer was as focused as ever on pitching himself into the record books once again. He was locked in a 10-pitch battle with Marlins outfielder Austin Dean as he channeled the energy from the crowd and the moment to fire fastballs in the upper 90s.

After Dean fouled off four straight pitches in the seventh inning of the Nationals' 9-4 victory over the Marlins, Scherzer threw one of his nastiest sliders of the night to record his 300th strikeout in the season. Scherzer became just the sixth pitcher since 1990 to record 300 strikeouts in a single season, joining Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale.

View Full Game Coverage

After reaching the 300-strikeout plateau, Scherzer was showered with a standing ovation not only by the crowd of 26,483 fans in attendance, but by the entire Nats dugout and bullpen. He received a bottle of champagne, which he was still carrying around after the game and drinking straight from the bottle to celebrate his latest achievement.

• These are the select few to reach 300 K's in a season

"Yeah, it was on my mind," Scherzer said. "With enough guys talking about it, understanding what the milestone is, and I definitely wanted to do it here at home. The fans [are an] unbelievable support. When they are standing on their feet, going crazy, it just gives you an extra adrenaline boost, and you just want to go out there and accomplish that. It was an amazing feeling to have the fans behind you and the respect that they gave."

Video: MIA@WSH: Statcast™ measures Max's K's on way to 300th

Even as strikeouts have spiked league-wide in recent seasons, the starters who have reached the 300-strikeout mark remain part of an exclusive club. Only Kershaw and Sale have done so in the past 15 seasons, and Schilling was the most recent right-hander to cross the threshold before Scherzer, whiffing 316 batters in 2002.

Watch Max Scherzer's wife, Erica, react to the milestone strikeout

"I wouldn't say it was a goal. It was just something as I solidified myself in the big leagues and showed I was able to get to those marks, it was something I dreamed of, reaching this mark," Scherzer said. "Because I know how hard it is to consistently go out there and strike guys out."

This latest accomplishment adds to Scherzer's already Hall of Fame-caliber resume and improves his bid to win the National League Cy Young Award this year.

Video: MIA@WSH: Scherzer K's 10 to reach 300 on the season

Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer in the first inning and collected four RBIs to help Scherzer notch his NL-best 18th win on the season. Scherzer also improved his Major League-leading strikeout total, which is also a career high and team record, and perhaps made his best argument to be named the NL Cy Young Award winner for a third consecutive season.

Video: MIA@WSH: Rendon opens the scoring with a 3-run homer

Beyond his 300 strikeouts in 220 2/3 innings, Scherzer has built a strong case for more hardware with his 18-7 record, 2.53 ERA and 5.88 strikeouts per walk. With just half as many hits allowed as strikeouts, Scherzer has posted an NL-best WHIP of 0.9109.

With the milestone in reach during his past few starts, catcher Matt Wieters acknowledged some tweaks in their game plan designed to rack up Scherzer's strikeouts. He started the night needing 10 strikeouts to reach 300 -- far from a sure thing at the start of the night for most pitchers -- but once Scherzer started on the mound, it became clear early that Tuesday night would be the night.

Asked whether he considered removing Scherzer from the game before he reached 300 strikeouts, Nats manager Dave Martinez said with a laugh, "I value my life."

"He was going to get 10 today, somehow," Martinez said. "What an unbelievable accomplishment for him. I'm just happy I got to experience it. I can't say enough about Max. He's a winner and a true champion."

Video: MIA@WSH: Martinez on Scherzer's milestone in 9-4 win

Once Scherzer reached 300 strikeouts in the seventh, the Nats provided ample breathing room with a six-run bottom of the inning, and Scherzer's night was complete. He gave up one run on five hits in seven innings with 10 strikeouts, his 18th game with double-digit strikeouts on the year over 33 total starts.

Video: MIA@WSH: Eaton grounds a 2-run single up the middle

Scherzer was scheduled to receive one more start on the final day of the regular season in Colorado, but now that he has reached this milestone, the Nats were going to leave the decision to him if he wanted to continue. That will be a conversation for another day, however, as Scherzer and the Nats took the time to enjoy one of their consistent bright spots this season.

"It's cool," Wieters said. "This is obviously a team sport first … but it's still cool to look back at all the personal goals and all the things guys reach -- Max's 300 strikeouts, [Bryce Harper's] 100 RBIs, [Trea Turner's] steals, every accomplishment [Ryan Zimmerman] has broken this year -- it's neat when you look back on it. This game's been around for a long time, and you're seeing records go down. It's always something you can look back on, and it's neat to be a part of history."

Harper expresses desire to remain with Nationals

SOUND SMART
Scherzer ended the night with 300 strikeouts and 150 hits allowed this year, which would be the fewest hits ever allowed by a pitcher in a 300-strikeout season, besting Pedro Martinez's 1997 campaign when he gave up 158 hits, according to STATS.

With his three-run homer in the first inning, Rendon extended his career-best on-base streak to 33 games.

Video: MIA@WSH: Rendon plates Eaton with a double in the 7th

Harper scored his 100th run on the season to go along with 129 walks and 100 RBIs on the year, making him the seventh player since 2014 to reach triple digits in each category. Cleveland's Jose Ramirez also accomplished the feat this season.

Good dog watches Scherzer's historic night while eating a hot dog

HE SAID IT
"It takes time to fully appreciate any milestone or accomplishment. So I'll best be able to answer that question maybe next year, of understanding that it is a short list, but it doesn't necessarily define you as a pitcher. There's more to pitching than just striking guys out, but also it is a big reason why you can have success. That's why it's a cool milestone, but there are more reasons to having success on the mound than just striking guys out." -- Scherzer, on ranking 300 strikeouts with his other accomplishments.

Video: MIA@WSH: Scherzer talks reaching 300 strikeouts

UP NEXT
Bryce Harper could be playing his final home game at Nationals Park during Wednesday's home finale against the Marlins at 4:05 ET. Harper has spent his entire seven-year career in D.C., but he is set to become a free agent this winter and his future is uncertain. Kyle McGowin will start on the mound for Washington in place of Tanner Roark, who left the team to be home with his family in Atlanta. The Marlins will counter with Wei-Yin Chen.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer

Injury updates: Bryant, Ohtani, Dansby, Thor

MLB.com