The Rays came into last night needing a victory to give themselves the tiebreaker over the Texas Rangers should both teams make the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Rays were unable to get that victory, but the standings remained virtually the same. The Indians are still a half game back, but the Rays still control their own destiny. A winning series against the Orioles this weekend may all but eliminate one playoff contender, and may help to solidify the Rays own position.
John Lackey had not thrown a nine inning complete game in his entire tenure with the Red Sox. Naturally, Lackey put together perhaps his most dominating performance in a Boston uniform last night as the Red Sox clinched a playoff berth. He did not give up a hit until Adam Jones hit a home run with one out in the seventh, and ended up pitching a two hitter, striking out eight. The Red Sox gave Lackey all the run support he needed in the third inning, with Stephen Drew smacking a two run home run and Dustin Pedroia driving in a run with a base hit. The Red Sox magic number to clinch the American League East is now down to one with the victory. Considering the disaster that 2012 was for the Red Sox, this turnaround has been remarkable, particularly as Boston is on pace for 100 wins this year.
The Yankees playoff hopes took a shot last night, as the Blue Jays played the part of spoilers last night. Hiroki Kuroda tried working out of trouble virtually all night before Toronto got to him in the third. Jose Reyes drove in a run with a double, and scored on a groundout by Brett Lawrie. Curtis Granderson and Anthony Gose traded home runs in the sixth, then the Blue Jays put the game seemingly out of reach against Joba Chamberlain. Chamberlain did his best napalm impression, giving up a walk, a single and a three run home run to Adam Lind before being removed. The Yankees attempted to rally, loading the bases with one out in the top of the ninth. Vernon Wells grounded out to plate a run, but Luis Perez got Lyle Overbay to ground out to end the threat.
With the Indians facing the worst team in baseball, it would have appeared as though this game should have been a relatively easy victory for the Tribe, particularly with the resurgent Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound. However, Dallas Keuchel proved up to the task of facing the Indians, matching Jimenez almost pitch for pitch. Cleveland scored a first inning run on a base hit by Jason Kipnis. Houston tied the game in the second, loading the bases with no outs but only getting a run on a sacrifice fly. The Astros appeared to have a prime chance to win in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with one out, but were unable to push a run across. The score remained tied heading into the bottom of the eleventh, when the Indians loaded the bases with one out, bringing career minor leaguer Matt Carson to the plate. Carson came through with a base hit to right, giving the Indians a 2-1 victory.
With the Rays loss, the Yankees managed to remain on the periphery of the Wild Card chase, but their chances may be fading. The Indians remain within half a game of both the Rays and the Rangers, and with their easy schedule, may have an inside track at a playoff berth.
1. Texas (83-69)
2. Tampa Bay (83-69)
3. Cleveland (83-70), 0.5 GB
4. Baltimore (81-71), 2.0 GB
5. Kansas City (80-72), 3.0 GB
6. New York (80-72), 3.5 GB
BAL @ TAM (7:07 PM EST): Jason Hammel vs. David Price
TEX @ KC (8:10 PM EST): Martin Perez vs. Ervin Santana
HOU @ CLE (7:05 PM EST): Brett Oberholtzer vs. Zach McAllister
SF @ NYY: (7:05 PM EST): Tim Lincecum vs. C.C. Sabathia