1. The Toronto Blue Jays put an exclamation point on clinching by winning their way: Sure, the Blue Jays had already clinched a postseason slot Friday, thanks in some small part to the schedule. But was that enough for them? Heck no. They went out and won a game their way -- by plating 10 runs for the 25th time this season, with Jose Bautista leading the way with two home runs in a 10-8 smackdown of Rays ace Chris Archer.
The Jays are now 24-1 in games in which they score 10 or more, and though you'd think those won't be easy to come by in October against top starting pitchers, doesn't that describe Archer? Besides, the Jays still have active goals to achieve, beyond just making it to October's action or winning the AL East title.
And there you go. For the first time all season, the Toronto Blue Jays have pole position as the #1 seed in the American League.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) September 27, 2015
Thanks to the Royals' second-half slump and the Jays' winning the season series 4-3, Toronto has a shot at home-field advantage all the way through the postseason. As long as the Blue Jays tie the Royals, they win. If you think they're going to coast into October, guess again. The beatdowns will continue until the path to the World Series goes through Toronto.
2. The New York Mets clinch the NL East: The first team to clinch an NL division title was sort of a foregone conclusion, once the Mets seemed to achieve breakaway speed in the standings at the end of August, but after Saturday's 10-2 win over the Reds, it's a happy thing for all sorts of reasons, like them or not. Maybe you're a Mets fan who's happy to see good things come to David Wright after he suffered through the eight-year stretch without a postseason appearance. Maybe you're somebody who remembers when Sandy Alderson was the younger GM who built the faith-redeeming Bash Brothers mini-dynasty with the A's in the ‘80s and is happy to see him succeed again. Maybe you just can't help but enjoy watching that young rotation pump gas. Maybe you couldn't help but embrace the Mets after the whole Wilmer Flores traded/not-traded thing went down, making him a cult hero. Maybe you love a roster with guys such as beloved grinders Curtis Granderson and Juan Uribe. Maybe it's Yoenis Cespedes' going nuts at the plate in a pennant race after coming over in trade. The point is this is a team to enjoy.
3. Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates: Putting today's champagne-and-goggles set aside, as far as a flat-out awesome spin on the mound, it's tough to top what Liriano delivered Saturday against the Cubs. Not only did he blank them into the eighth inning with an even spread of fastballs that reached 95 mph, sliders and changeups before coming out of the game with his 200th strikeout of the season, and not only did he propel the Pirates to their eighth win in a row as they aim for a sweep and take their best shot at catching the Cardinals, but the guy also laced a couple singles.
First time #Pirates have had two pitchers (Cole and Liriano) each reach 200 strikeouts in same season.
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) September 26, 2015
4. David Freese, Los Angeles Angels: Remember Mr. October of 2011? That wasn't in a calendar -- that was in a Rally Squirrel-riddled postseason to remember. Mr. Freese's walk-off homer Saturday was almost as epic as his performance then. His blast in the ninth helped the Angels keep up with the Astros as the AL wild-card race heads into its final week.
That was a good David Freese walk-off, but it was not the best David Freese walk-off.
— Dayn Perry (@daynperry) September 27, 2015
However, the game came with bad news about closer Huston Street, who got hurt while running to back up third base in the ninth inning. With manager Mike Scioscia saying his outlook is bleak, the Angels will have to overcome a significant additional injury to a bullpen already handicapped by the loss of key set-up man Joe Smith to a sprained ankle.
5. Jarrett Parker, San Francisco Giants: In a game that was supposed to be the Zito vs. Hudson Bay Area baseball reunion, this rookie stole the show by clouting a trio of homers, including an eighth-inning slam, to drive in seven runs in the Giants' 14-10 win over the A's. All of them came on fastballs (that's bending the term a bit in Zito's case, given that his didn't reach 85 mph), while the second and third were first-pitch fastballs Parker just creamed. That gets him up to six in September. Although he has developed slowly and will be 27 next season, which limits his prospect status, a game and a month such as these can't help but turn a few heads.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.