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AL Wild Card race tightens as Blue Jays, Orioles lose

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The Tigers didn’t play, but still moved closer to the playoffs on Wednesday.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Seattle Mariners 2, Toronto Blue Jays 1 (F/12)

Recaps: Bluebird Banter | Lookout Landing

A pitcher’s duel between Aaron Sanchez and Felix Hernandez lived up to the hype, with King Felix narrowly edging out Toronto’s young flamethrower. Hernandez threw seven shutout innings, but was handed a no-decision when Jose Bautista hit a mammoth game-tying home run in the top of the ninth. Three innings later, a Josh Donaldson error came around to score; Guillermo Heredia advanced to second on the throwing error, to third on a sacrifice bunt attempt from Ben Gamel, and scored on Robinson Cano’s walk-off single. R.A. Dickey, of all people, took the loss for Toronto.

Impact: Despite losing two of three to the Jays, Seattle remains two games back of a Wild Card spot. Their only remaining series against a team above .500 is September 26-28 against the Astros in Houston. Toronto retained their one game lead over Baltimore for the first AL Wild Card spot, but the rest of the pack is now closer to contention.

Boston Red Sox 5, Baltimore Orioles 1

Recaps: Over the Monster | Camden Chat

Rookie Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run home run and the Red Sox stretched their win streak to seven games in a win over the Orioles. Benintendi’s homer capped off a five-run sixth inning for the Red Sox. All five Boston runs were unearned, as a throwing error from first baseman Chris Davis with two outs scored Boston’s first two runs and extended the frame. On the other side, Clay Buchholz continued his recent resurgence with a strong performance.

Impact: Boston’s magic number in the AL East is down to six. Baltimore remained in the lead for the second AL Wild Card spot, but their lead over Houston and Detroit is down to one game.

Houston Astros 6, Oakland Athletics 5

Recaps: Crawfish Boxes | Athletics Nation

Starters Collin McHugh and Daniel Mengden were solid early, posting zeroes through the first three innings. While the A’s struck first in the fourth, the Astros eventually got the better of Mengden, who gave up four runs in 5 23 innings. Houston added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth, but things still got hairy in the ninth. Luke Gregerson recorded the first two outs, but walked Chad Pinder. Stephen Vogt reached base on a Jose Altuve error (which scored Pinder), but pinch-runner Arismendy Alcantara was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the game.

Impact: With the win, Houston moved to within a game of the Orioles for the second wild card spot. The Astros have played two more games than the Tigers, but their final off day of the season is not until September 29. Seven of their final 10 games are against the Los Angeles Angels.

New York Yankees 11, Tampa Bay Rays 5

Recaps: Pinstripe Alley | DRaysBay

The good news: Masahiro Tanaka gave up four runs in six innings, elevating his season-long ERA to 3.07. He still technically leads the league in this category, but only because Michael Fulmer is no longer a qualified pitcher (Fulmer needs 13 13 innings in his next three starts to qualify for the entire season).

The bad news: Gary Sanchez hit his 18th and 19th home runs of the season, and his chances of winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award appear to be greater than zero.

Also bad: the Yankees won.

Impact: In spite of an awful week, the Yankees are still within 2 12 games of the second AL Wild Card spot. Seven of their remaining 11 games are against the Orioles or Blue Jays.

Cleveland Indians 4, Kansas City Royals 3

Recaps: Royals Review | Let’s Go Tribe

This one had all the makings of another #RoyalsDevilMagic appearance. Salvador Perez hit a solo home run off Indians closer Cody Allen in the ninth, and Ned Yost went to pinch runner extraordinaire Terrance Gore when Alex Gordon walked. However, Gore was thrown out trying to steal second base — it was the first time he had ever been caught stealing in regular season play — and Allen quickly retired Alcides Escobar and Cheslor Cuthbert to seal the win. Carlos Santana had four hits for the Tribe, who stranded 10 runners on base.

Impact: Cleveland’s win officially eliminated the Royals from the division race on Wednesday, though Kansas City still has a mathematical chance of winning a wild card spot.

Team W-L PCT GB L10
Toronto 83-69 .546 +1.0 5-5
Baltimore 82-70 .539 - 4-6
Detroit 80-70 .533 1.0 4-6
Houston 81-71 .533 1.0 6-4
Seattle 80-72 .526 2.0 6-4
New York 79-72 .523 2.5 3-7
Kansas City 77-75 .507 5.0 3-7