With so many teams in the thick of this year’s AL Wild Card race, it can be tough to keep your scoreboard watching straight. Fear not, though: Bless You Boys has you covered. Over the last two weeks of the season we will update you on the ups and downs of the AL playoff picture, and how each contending team fared on a nightly basis.
Boston Red Sox 5, Baltimore Orioles 2
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and ultimately surrendered just one run in 6 1⁄3 innings against the high-powered O’s offense. Rodriguez out-dueled Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman, who largely held the Red Sox in check until David Ortiz’s three-run homer in the seventh. The homer, which came on Gausman’s 101st pitch of the night, stretched a narrow 2-1 margin into a healthy 5-2 Red Sox lead. The O’s were able to get a run back in the bottom of the seventh, but went quietly in the eighth and ninth. The win was Boston’s sixth in a row.
Impact: Because Toronto won, Boston’s lead in the AL East remains at four games. Baltimore is still in possession of a Wild Card spot, but they lead the Tigers by just 1 1⁄2 games.
Toronto Blue Jays 10, Seattle Mariners 2
The Mariners took an early 2-0 lead on an RBI triple from Robinson Cano — one that took a fortuitous deflection off former Tigers prospect Devon Travis — but Hisashi Iwakuma imploded in the fourth to give the Blue Jays an 8-2 lead they would not surrender. Russell Martin and Michael Saunders homered for Toronto, and J.A. Happ shrugged off the early runs to keep the Mariners in check for five innings. The Blue Jays have won two straight over the Mariners to open up this crucial three-game set.
Impact: This win does wonders for the Jays, who are one game (and an off day) away from a seven-game homestand against the Yankees and Orioles. They move a game ahead of the Orioles in the Wild Card standings. Meanwhile, the M’s fall four games behind Toronto, but are still only three back in the Wild Card chase because of Baltimore’s loss.
Houston Astros 2, Oakland Athletics 1 (F/10)
A’s starter Sean Manaea threw six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and just five baserunners allowed, but a diminutive Astros infielder proved to be the difference in the later innings.
...okay, so maybe Tony Kemp is playing the outfield now, but his pinch-hit double in the seventh tied the game at one. Kemp doubled again in the 10th and scored the go-ahead run on a George Springer RBI single. Ken Giles, maligned for his early season performance, locked down the bottom of the inning for his 13th save.
Impact: Houston jumped ahead of Seattle in the Wild Card standings and is two games behind the Orioles.
New York Yankees 5, Tampa Bay Rays 3
Recaps: Pinstripe Alley
Michael Pineda struck out 11 Rays in 5 1⁄3 innings, but received a no-decision because the Yankees only scored one run in the first six frames of the game. Fortunately for New York, their offense woke up in the seventh. Three of New York’s first four batters in the inning singled off Rays reliever Brad Boxberger, and rookie sensation Gary Sanchez gave the Yanks a 5-2 lead with a two-out, three-run homer. Setup man Tyler Clippard gave up a run in the eighth, but Dellin Betances shut the door in the ninth for his 12th save of the season. Sanchez’ home run was his 17th since being called up in early August.
Impact: The Yankees snapped a five-game losing streak with Tuesday’s win, but that skid could have been the difference in such a tight playoff race. New York is 3 1⁄2 games back in the Wild Card after their win and Baltimore’s loss.
Cleveland Indians 2, Kansas City Royals 1
This Joakim Soria contract is looking worse by the day for the Royals. Soria gave up a two-out RBI single to Brandon Guyer in the bottom of the ninth, handing the Indians their 11th walk-off win of the season. To be fair, Soria was put into a very precarious situation, both because reliever (and former Tigers prospect) Brian Flynn put two runners on before Soria was brought in, and also because the Royals offense managed just one run off Indians starter Josh Tomlin. Royals starter Edinson Volquez deserved better, as he limited the Tribe to a run on four hits in 6 2⁄3 solid innings.
Impact: The Indians maintained their seven-game cushion in the AL Central with Tuesday’s win. Their magic number for clinching the division is down to six. Kansas City is now five games behind Baltimore in the AL Wild Card race.