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Postseason chases picking up steam

Jays make statement vs. Yanks; Rangers, Twins, Angels triumph

With just weeks remaining in the regular season, the postseason picture is beginning to take shape. Three of the six division leaders now have at least a 7 1/2-game advantage, and two National League Central clubs are running away with the NL's Wild Card spots.

But there's still plenty of baseball left to be played. The other three division leaders are on far shakier ground with leads of four games or fewer, while the American League Wild Card race remains crowded.

Here's a look at how Friday's results impacted the standings:

Blue Jays best Yankees in opener
The Blue Jays got off to a strong start in a pivotal series against the Yankees, winning 11-5 in New York. The victory extended Toronto's lead in the AL East to 2 1/2 games, the club's largest lead of the year.

Video: [email protected]: Blue Jays crush five homers against Yankees

The Blue Jays improved to 6-1 at Yankee Stadium this year entering Saturday's doubleheader. These clubs have six remaining head-to-head matchups in the next two weeks -- three more in New York followed by a three-game set at Rogers Centre from Sept. 21-23.

The Yankees will be without first baseman Mark Teixeira in all of them as the club announced Friday that an MRI and CT scan revealed a fracture in his right leg that will keep him out the remainder of the 2015 season. Prior to landing on the disabled list Sept. 4, Teixeira was hitting .255 with 31 home runs and 79 RBIs in 111 games.

"You can't really put into words how disappointed I am," Teixeira said. "I feel like this team has a chance to win a World Series. I really do. And not to be able to be on the field during that is really tough to take."

Strong showing from AL Wild Card contenders
Three teams vying for a place in the AL's play-in game won Friday as the Rangers shut out the A's 4-0, the Twins beat the White Sox 6-2 and the Angels edged past the Astros 3-2.

The Rangers currently have possession of the second Wild Card spot, but the Twins are only a game behind. The Angels still remain very much in the mix, three games back of Texas. They have a four-game series against both the Twins and the Rangers left on the schedule.

"For us, there's no tomorrow," the Angels' Albert Pujols said Thursday. "That's how we have to look at it this whole month."

In their respective divisions, the Twins face the longest odds to a pennant, trailing 10 games behind the first-place Royals. In the AL West, the Astros sit 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers and 4 1/2 in front of Los Angeles.

Cubs pulling away in NL Wild Card
The Cubs won both of their games against the Phillies on Friday to further solidify their hold on the NL's second Wild Card spot.

The early win was backed by yet another stellar outing from Jake Arrieta, who picked up his Major-League leading 19th win. Chicago improved to 82-58, its most wins since it went 83-78 in 2009.

The Cubs' magic number to clinch a postseason appearance is now down to 14 over the Giants. Washington, the other club still fighting for a place in the one-game playoff, lost 2-1 to the Marlins in Miami. The Nationals trail a game back of the Giants in the Wild Card and are 8 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East.

Other things to know
• The Cardinals game against the Reds was suspended at the top of the eighth inning with the score knotted at 2-2. St. Louis has lost six of its last eight but can still clinch a playoff berth as early as Monday.

• The Pirates snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Brewers with a 6-3 win. They trail the Cardinals by four games in the NL Central.

• The Mets beat the Braves 5-1 in Atlanta. Their magic number to win the NL East is down to 15 over the Nationals.

• The Giants have won 17 of their last 23 home games, outscoring their opponents 121-67. Seventeen of San Francisco's remaining 22 games are at AT&T Park.

If the postseason began today ...

Wild Card: Rangers at Yankees
Division Series: Wild Card at Royals, Astros at Blue Jays  

Wild Card: Cubs at Pirates
Division Series: Wild Card at Cardinals, Mets at Dodgers

AL Wild Card Game: Oct. 6
NL Wild Card Game: Oct. 7
AL Division Series begin: Oct. 8
NL Division Series begin: Oct. 9
NL Championship Series begins: Oct. 16
AL Championship Series begins: Oct. 17
World Series begins: Oct. 27

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for