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Weekend Digest: Playoffs begin to take shape; Papelbon fights Harper; hurricane could affect playoffs

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MLB news from the past week.

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Dodgers clinch NL West

The Dodgers clinched their third straight division title in dominating fashion. Clayton Kershaw dominated the Giants, hurling a complete game, one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts in San Francisco to secure their spot. They will face the Mets in the Division Series starting October 9.

Blue Jays clinch AL East

Not since Joe Carter walked off on Mitch Williams in 1993 have the Jays tasted playoff baseball. Back then, the average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.10, Calvin and Hobbes was in syndication, Slick Willie was in the White House, and yours truly was 10 years old. They defeated Baltimore in a rout in the second game of a doubleheader on Wednesday to secure their spot.

Cardinals clinch NL Central

The Cardinals also played a doubleheader on Wednesday, clinching the Central in a rout over the Pirates in the second game of their twin bill 11-1. The win made them the first 100-win team since the 2011 Phillies.

Nats suspend Jonathan Papelbon after dugout fight with Bryce Harper

The Nats' 2015 season started with such promise, being crowned the World Series champs before the season had even begun. So seeing their collapse culminate in a dugout brawl gave me a sense of schadenfreude. Sunday against the Phillies, Papelbon screamed at Harper for not running out a pop fly in the eighth inning of a tie game. In the dugout, Harper confronted Papelbon, who grabbed Harper by the throat and shoved him against the wall before teammates and coaches intervened.

Conspicuous by his absence was manager Matt Williams, who said he didn't see the fight until Monday morning. Anonymous players (except for one) have sided with Papelbon, which isn't surprising considering Harper was voted the most overrated player by his peers. While Harper isn't entirely faultless, Papelbon had absolutely NO reason to put his hands on Harper in a threatening manner. As a result, the team suspended Papelbon for four games; at the same time Papelbon elected to drop his three-game suspension for plunking Manny Machado, effectively ending his season.

Papelbon has become almost universally disliked among fans (one Nats fan said he had "a very punchable face"), so much so that some of them have said they'd donate money to charity if Papelbon was cut from the team.

Hurricane Joaquin could affect playoff schedule

Joaquin is currently a category 3 hurricane lurking in the Caribbean, but isn't expected to make landfall in the U.S. Still, it caused three postponements on Friday, one of which was the Mets/Nationals game in New York. The Mets are fighting the Dodgers for who will have home field in their Division Series matchup. If the Mets can't play these final three games, MLB could still use winning percentage to determine home field.

The Yankees could also be affected since they will be hosting the Wild Card playoff on Tuesday. If the weather doesn't cooperate, the game could be pushed to Wednesday, which happens to be the same day as the NL Wild Card game. The winner of the AL game would then have to rush off to either Toronto or Kansas City for Game 1 of the Division Series the next day.