Heading into last night’s action, one thing was certain – the race for the Wild Card was bound to get tighter. With four of the teams jockeying for the two postseason berths facing one another, yesterday’s games could go a long way in determining whether or not the flickering chances of teams like the Yankees or Royals would be essentially extinguished.
The Royals jumped out on hard throwing Danny Salazar with two outs in the first. After a single and a walk, Salvador Perez roped a two run double to deep left, and advanced to third on the throw home before scoring on a wild pitch. Cleveland closed the gap in the third on a run scoring double by Michael Brantley and a sacrifice fly, but the Royals were not to be denied. A double steal where catcher Yan Gomes missed a tag scored another run, and Kansas City broke the game open in the eighth. After loading the bases with one out, Jarrod Dyson drew a walk and Alcides Escobar followed with a two run single to give the Royals a 7-2 lead. The Royals held on, with Bruce Chen pitching five solid innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk for the victory.
The Yankees just will not go away. Despite being decimated by injuries to the point where the club resembled a AAA roster instead of the Bronx Bombers, New York still found themselves in contention for the Wild Card. That determination was evident last night against Toronto in their comeback victory. After falling behind 3-0 when Colby Rasmus hit a two run home run and Ryan Goins hit a solo home run in the fourth, the Yankees rallied in the top of the eighth. With runners on the corners and one out, Robinson Cano singled to put New York on the board. Alfonso Soriano doubled to cut the lead to one, bringing up former Blue Jay Vernon Wells. Wells came back to haunt his former team, lacing a double to deep left to provide the winning margin as the Yankees completed their comeback, taking a 4-3 victory. David Huff picked up the win in relief, giving up one run on a hit in 3.2 innings of work.
Much like the Rays last night, the Orioles twice faced deficits that they needed to rally from. Boston got on the board early against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, as David Ortiz crushed a two run shot in the bottom of the first. With Jake Peavy cruising through the Orioles lineup, it began to appear as though those two runs would be enough. Baltimore fought back, opening the fifth with their first hit of the night when Danny Valencia singled to left, and scored on a double by Matt Wieters to put the Orioles on the board. After a groundout, Brian Roberts doubled to tie the game at 2-2. Wieters struck again in the top of the sixth, hitting a ground rule double to plate Nick Markakis with the go ahead run as Baltimore took the lead. However, Mike napoli, who seemingly always gets hot in September, homered to center to tie the game in the bottom of the frame. Boston had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the eleventh, putting runners on first and second with one out, but Will Middlebrooks grounded into a double play. That was all Baltimore needed, as they loaded the bases with one out in the top of the twelfth. Manny Machado popped up in foul territory for the second out, bringing up the dangerous Chris Davis. Davis grounded a two run single through the middle, giving the Orioles a 5-3 victory.
Already a tight race, the AL Wild Card got even tighter last night. The Rays victory last night gave them a one game lead in the Wild Card, but they need a victory against the Rangers tonight to ensure home field advantage should both teams tie for the postseason. Meanwhile, the Royals and Yankees picked up a game in the standings, while Cleveland and Baltimore were unable to capitalize on the Rangers loss.
1. Tampa Bay (83-68)
2. Texas (83-68)
3. Cleveland (82-70), 0.5 GB
4. Baltimore (80-71), 2.0 GB
T5. Kansas City (80-72), 2.5 GB
T5. New York (80-72), 2.5 GB