The American League Wild Card picture is getting closer to clearing up. The Rays are inching closer to locking up a Wild Card berth, and one has to wonder if the Rangers slide at the start of September will prove to be too much to overcome. The Rays, Indians and Rangers all finish their seasons against weaker opponents, so it may end up where the standings remain the same until the final day of the season.
Andrew Albers had done a decent job working out of trouble for the Twins until the fourth inning. After a leadoff single, a blak on an error on a sacrifice bunt pushed a run across before Yan Gomes followed with a two run shot to put Cleveland ahead. The Indians extended the lead in the sixth, loading the bases with two out for Michael Brantley. Brantley slapped a single to left, scoring a run as the Tribe extended their lead. Cleveland scored runs in the seventh and eighth innings, and appeared to be on their way to an easy victory. However, with nothing to play for other than to ruin a divisional foe’s playoff chances, came back against Indians closer Chris Perez. After a leadoff single, Alex Presley tripled to drive in a run before scoring on a groundout. Ryan Doumit singled, and after a flyout, Josmil Pinto followed with a two run home run to cut the Indians lead to one. The Twins put runners on first and second, but Perez was able to strike out Oswaldo Arcia to end the threat. Brian Shaw picked up the win, pitching 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
The Rangers came out determined to keep pace in the Wild Card hunt. After the Angels scored in the top half of the first, Texas put score three runs on RBI singles from Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski. Mitch Moreland followed with a sacrifice fly to score Beltre, but Pierzynski was thrown out trying to move up to second. The Angles came right back in the second, courtesy of some sloppy play by the Rangers. An error and a base hit put runners on first and second with one out for Erick Aybar, whose groundball to second eluded Ian Kinsler for another error, scoring a run. Mike Trout followed with an infield single, and two more runs scored on a throwing error. Despite their best effort to literally throw away their chances, the Rangers came back. Leonys Martin hit a two run double to briefly put the Rangers back in front, but the Angels tied the game in the top of the seventh with an RBI single by Mark Trumbo. The score remained tied until the bottom of the ninth, when Jurickson Profar belted Michael Kohn‘s 1-1 offering to right for a walkoff home run, allowing the Rangers to keep pace in the Wild Card hunt.
With all three teams winning, there were no chances in the standings heading into today’s slate of action. The Rays can clinch a postseason berth with a win and a Rangers loss tonight.
1. Tampa Bay (90-69), +1.0
2. Cleveland (89-70), –
3. Texas (88-71), 1 GB