It was a lovely Tuesday night to be out and about along the Beltways. How often do you get a chance to celebrate division titles by two home teams in one night? The Orioles wrapped up their first American League East title since 1997 with a romp at home against the Blue Jays, and the Nationals made it twice as nice by chopping down the Braves in Atlanta to claim the National League East crown. All four leaders of the other divisions lost.
According to ESPN, Tuesday marked the third time since 1969 that two MLB teams from the same metro area clinched a division title on the same day. The last time it happened was in 2004, when the Angels and Dodgers clinched.
The closest division race moved the Pulse of the Postseason meter. The Tigers let a ninth-inning lead get away in Minnesota, but they maintained their 1 1/2-game AL Central lead when the Royals also were unable to hold a lead against the White Sox. Carlos Gomez and Hector Gomez manufactured the decisive run in the 12th inning of the Brewers' 3-2 victory in St. Louis, shaving the Cards' NL Central lead to 2 1/2 games over the Pirates and four over the Brew Crew.
With a 2-1 decision in Arizona behind Jake Peavy coupled with the Dodgers' 10-4 loss at Colorado, the Giants moved back within three games of Los Angeles' NL West lead. The A's and Royals in the AL and Giants and Pirates in the NL retained their Wild Card edges.
It was a big day in Atlanta before the Nationals celebrated with the groundbreaking of SunTrust Stadium, due for its unveiling in the 2017 season. Major League Baseball Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred and legendary Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron were on hand along with Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk for the festive occasion.
And then there was Bryan Cranston's one-man show about postseason baseball on TBS, a hilarious creation featuring a guest appearance by Pedro Martinez. Everything is breaking right, not bad, for Cranston in this Super Tuesday performance.
IF THE POSTSEASON STARTED TODAY ...
Wild Card: Royals at A's
Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Tigers at Orioles
Wild Card: Pirates at Giants
Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers
• Postseason picture
The stars for the Orioles on clinching night fittingly were role players Steve Pearce, Alejandro De Aza and Jimmy Paredes, along with Ubaldo Jimenez in his first start since Aug. 16. Pearce got it rolling with a three-run homer in the first, Paredes hit as solo shot in the second and De Aza's three-run triple in the seventh broke it open. Jimenez held the Jays to two runs across five innings before turning it over to the superb Baltimore bullpen.
"They were in it two years ago," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the Orioles. "When you look at their team, it's a solid ballclub. Solid pitching, all-around players, they have gritty hard-nosed type players."
Tanner Roark's seven shutout innings and Ian Desmond's two-run homer, his 23rd, carried the Nats to their second division title in three years in a 3-0 decision over the struggling Braves.
"It's has been amazing road, and now we are the NL East champs," Roark said. "It's nothing I have ever fathomed. We played hard and we won. That's the type of team that we have."
In Minnesota, the Tigers' J.D. Martinez unloaded a dramatic two-out, three-run homer in the top of the ninth off Twins closer Glen Perkins for a one-run lead. But embattled Detroit closer Joe Nathan and his defense watched it slip away. The Twins scored twice in the home half, a miscalculation by center fielder Ezequiel Carrera on Kurt Suzuki's line drive creating a game-tying double before Aaron Hicks' infield hit won it, breaking hearts in the Motor City.
At home, the Royals were unable to capitalize on their good fortune courtesy of the Twins against their former closer, Nathan. The White Sox broke through against Kansas City's gold-plated setup duo of Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis for a late victory.
Atlanta fell 5 1/2 games off the pace for the second NL Wild Card, held by the Pirates by 1 1/2 games over the Brewers. The Giants hold the first Wild Card, leading the Pirates by 2 1/2 games. Buster Posey continued his hot streak with a homer and Brandon Crawford drove in the decisive run in support of Peavy, who was brilliant again in holding the D-backs to one run across 7 2/3 innings.
In St. Louis, the NL Central plot thickened as the Brewers rallied to get even with a run in the ninth against Cards closer Trevor Rosenthal and won it in the 12th when Carlos Gomez walked, stole second and third and scored on Hector Gomez's two-out single off Kevin Siegrist. Francisco Rodriguez locked it down for his 42nd save.
The A's had a chance to strengthen their grip on the Wild Card but were frustrated by the Rangers, 6-3, in Oakland. Pounding the Angels 13-2 in Anaheim, the Mariners edged within one game of the Royals and two of the A's in the Wild Card chase. The Indians and Jays are five behind the Royals, the Yankees six back.
TODAY'S KEY GAMES TO WATCH (all times ET)
Giants (Bumgarner, 18-9) at Diamondbacks (Chaffin, 0-0), 3:40 p.m. Preview
Giants turn to their ace, Madison Bumgarner, to keep the pressure on the Dodgers in the NL West race.
Nationals (Treinen, 2-3) at Braves (Wood, 10-10) 7:10 p.m. Preview
Even after clinching the division, the Nats have motivation in trying to finish with the league's best record for home-field advantage through the NL postseason.
White Sox (Sale, 12-3) at Royals (Ventura, 12-10), 8:10 p.m. Preview
It doesn't get any easier for the Royals as they bid to overtake the Tigers in the AL Central. Chris Sale (1.99 ERA) is simply dominant.
Tigers (Price, 14-11) at Twins (Gibson, 11-11), 8:10 p.m. Preview
David Price needs to lock into one of his familiar grooves with so much at stake for the Tigers.
Brewers (Fiers, 6-2) at Cardinals (Wainwright, 18-9), 8:15 p.m. Preview
Adam Wainwright is on a roll, driving his team to another postseason, but Mike Fiers has been just as good except for one highly unfortunate pitch to Giancarlo Stanton in his most recent outing.
Mariners (Paxton, 6-2) at Angels (Wilson, 12-9), 10:05 p.m. Preview
The Mariners are fighting for postseason survival, and James Paxton has been brilliant, while the runaway Angels are hoping Wilson finds and maintains consistent command.
Rangers (Holland, 1-0) at Athletics (Samardzija, 6-12), 10:05 p.m. Preview
Derek Holland has been virtually flawless (17 strikeouts, no walks, 0.68) since coming off the DL, and Rangers can get some spoilers' satisfaction against their rivals.
• Watch the races on MLB.TV
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.
AL East: Orioles clinched on Tuesday
AL Central: Tigers 11 over Royals
AL West: Angels 2 over A's
AL Wild Card 1: A's 12 over Royals
AL Wild Card 2: Royals 12 over Mariners
NL East: Nationals clinched on Tuesday
NL Central: Cardinals 10 over Pirates
NL West: Dodgers 9 over Giants
NL Wild Card 1: Giants 10 over Pirates
NL Wild Card 2: Pirates 11 over Brewers
A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.
If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.
• Tiebreaker rules
Lyle Spencer is a columnist for MLB.com.