The Cubs earned a weekend sweep, but the Brewers and Cardinals have closed the gap in the National League Central standings.

Unquestionably, the most interesting division race in MLB this season has been the National League Central. Anytime the defending World Series champion finds itself in a fight to make it back to the postseason is intense, and with fewer than six weeks left to play before the 2017 postseason, the must fend off both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals to make it back to October.

Chicago struggled through a four-game split with the Reds early in the week, but picked up huge momentum with a three-game weekend sweep over the Blue Jays. Alex Avila’s walk-off winner Sunday preserved a two-game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers have won six of their last seven games, including the final two games of a three-game set in Denver over the weekend. Jesus Aguilar hit two big home runs to lift starter Chase Anderson to victory in his first game back from the disabled list Sunday. Aguilar also homered Saturday – a 449-foot blast in the ninth inning – to secure a 6-3 win for Milwaukee. In addition to closing the gap to two games in the division, the Brewers are now just 2.5 games behind the Diamondbacks for the second NL Wild Card spot.

The Cardinals are four game out in the Wild Card, and 3.5 games behind the Cubs after dropping the final two games of a four-game weekend series on the road against the Pirates. St. Louis fell 6-3 in the Little League Classic Sunday, but with the Padres and struggling Tampa Bay Rays visiting next week, there’s an opportunity to make up more ground in both races.

American League East

Boston Red Sox (71-52, .577, – GB)

Last Week: 0-1 vs. Indians, 2-0 vs. Cardinals, 2-1 vs. Yankees

  • Home Record: 40-22
  • Road Record: 31-30
  • Runs Scored: 595
  • Runs Allowed: 496
  • Run Differential: +99
  • Streak: Won 1
  • Last 10: 7-3

New York Yankees (66-57, .537, 5 GB)

Last Week: 2-0 vs. Mets, 2-0 at Mets, 1-2 at Red Sox

  • Home Record: 35-22
  • Road Record: 31-35
  • Runs Scored: 630
  • Runs Allowed: 519
  • Run Differential: +111
  • Streak: Lost 1
  • Last 10: 6-4

Tampa Bay Rays (61-65, .484, 11.5 GB)

Last Week: 1-3 at Blue Jays, 1-2 vs. Mariners

  • Home Record: 31-30
  • Road Record: 28-30
  • Runs Scored: 516
  • Runs Allowed: 526
  • Run Differential: -10
  • Streak: Lost 3
  • Last 10: 3-7

Baltimore Orioles (60-64, .484, 11.5 GB)

Last Week: 1-2 at Mariners, 1-2 vs. Angels

  • Home Record: 36-25
  • Road Record: 24-39
  • Runs Scored: 589
  • Runs Allowed: 636
  • Run Differential: -47
  • Streak: Lost 2
  • Last 10: 4-6

Toronto Blue Jays (59-65, .476, 12.5 GB)

Last Week: 3-1 vs. Rays, 0-3 at Cubs

  • Home Record: 34-29
  • Road Record: 25-36
  • Runs Scored: 529
  • Runs Allowed: 610
  • Run Differential: -81
  • Streak: Lost 3
  • Last 10: 5-5

The Red Sox have played great baseball since the trade deadline, winning 13 of 16 games since August 1 and increasing their lead in the division from half a game to a full five in fewer than three weeks.

Eduardo Nunez provided an immediate spark for the club, and has hit .345/.374/.552 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 19 games since being acquired from San Francisco. Rookie Rafael Devers has had an even bigger impact since his call up from Triple-A, hitting .350/.416/.700 with eight long balls and 16 RBI, including four homers and six RBI last week.

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