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 3
Orioles manager Buck Showalter went to his bullpen early, pulling starter Chris Tillman in the top of the second inning. Tillman had just walked David Ortiz with the bases loaded, giving Boston an early 3-0 lead. The Baltimore bullpen held steady for a couple innings, and rookie Trey Mancini hit his second homer of the series to tie the game. An RBI single from Andrew Benintendi gave Boston the lead in the fifth, and Hanley Ramirez added a solo homer in the seventh to pad the margin. Baltimore’s offense went quietly in the final innings — Mancini was the only Oriole to record a hit after the third inning.
Impact: After their second four-game sweep in a row, the Red Sox now lead the AL East by 5 1⁄2 games. The Orioles, losers of four in a row, are a half game behind the Tigers in the AL Wild Card hunt. The O’s host Arizona for three games over the weekend.
Los Angeles Angels 2, Houston Astros 0
Ricky Nolasco — Ricky Nolasco! — threw seven shutout innings for the Angels, who won just their second game in 13 matchups against Houston this season. The Angels were out-hit 8-5, and scored both of their runs on an Albert Pujols home run in the top of the first inning. Astros starter Mike Fiers struck out nine, but suffered his eighth loss of the season. Former A’s and Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey recorded the save for Los Angeles, his fifth of the year.
Impact: Thursday was a bad day for Houston sports teams. On the Astros’ end, they went from tied with Detroit to 1 1⁄2 games back in the AL Wild Card hunt.
Tampa Bay Rays 2, New York Yankees 0
Rookie Blake Snell struck out six in five scoreless innings, and former Yankee Chase Whitley blanked his team for 2 2⁄3 innings in relief to hand New York their first loss of the series. Former Tigers farmhand Luis Cessa worked six innings for the Yankees, allowing two runs on six hits. The Yankees offense managed eight hits, but all were singles and they stranded 11 runners on base while going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Impact: With the loss, the Yankees are three games behind in the AL Wild Card race. They will travel to Toronto for a weekend series against the Blue Jays.
Cleveland Indians 5, Kansas City Royals 2
Carlos Santana, who is quietly having a monster season for the Indians, drove in four of Cleveland’s five runs as they swept the Royals at Progressive Field. Santana ripped an RBI double in the first inning, and broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth with a three-run homer to right, his 34th of the season. Jason Kipnis also homered for Cleveland, who finished the season with a 52-26 record at home.
Impact: Cleveland’s magic number to win the AL Central is down to four. They are 89-63, a half game behind Texas for the best record in the American League. The Royals are now 5 1⁄2 games behind Detroit in the AL Wild Card race and will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention if they are swept this weekend.
Also of note:
- The Blue Jays and Mariners were off on Thursday. Seattle is two games behind Detroit in the Wild Card standings.
- The White Sox are a loss or Detroit win away from being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.