AL Wild Card Roundup: A’s Pound Tigers, Rangers Beat Angels as Rays Inch Closer

By Robbie Knopf

The Tampa Bay Rays came up with a huge comeback win on Thursday night, rallying for 6 runs in the 9th including a walk-off 3-run homer by B.J. Upton  to win 7-4 and keep their playoff hopes alive. They will need some help to make the postseason as they entered Thursday tied for 4th in the AL Wild Card race at 5.5 games back. Let’s recap the other scores among the AL Wild Card contenders and see where things stand now.

Athletics 12, Tigers 4

The Tigers squandered an opportunity to make up ground on the A’s, blowing a 2-0 lead and then watching things get out of hand as this one ended up as a blowout. Tommy Milone failed to get out of the 5th innings for Oakland, allowing 3 runs on 9 hits, striking out just 1 while walking 3 before Pat Neshek stranded two inherited runners from Milone to keep the A’s trailing 3-2. Anibal Sanchez looked sharp for the Tigers early on, with his one big mistake being a solo homer by Seth Smith in the 5th inning that tied the game at 2, but the wheels came off in the 6th inning. With 1 out, Brandon Moss doubled home a run to tie the game at 3 and two batters later, the Tigers elected to walk Smith intentionally with 2 outs to bring up Josh Donaldson. But Donaldson came through with an RBI single to give the A’s the lead, and Phil Coke allowed a George Kottaras 2-run triple to make it a 4-run inning and a 6-3 lead for Oakland. Sanchez went 5.2 innings allowing 6 runs, 5 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 8 while walking 1. The A’s throttled the Tigers bullpen to make a close 6-4 game into the 9th into a 12-4 laugher. Sanchez falls to 3-6 with the Tigers despite a decent 4.14 ERA and 22 strikeouts versus just 4 walks in his last 6 starts.

Rangers 3, Angels 1

The suddenly unhittable Yu Darvish and Zack Greinke battled to a 1-1  draw through 8 innings, but the Rangers came up with a pair of runs against Ernesto Frieri in the 9th to come away with a 3-1 win. Texas had a short-lived lead in the 5th on a Geovany Soto sac fly, but the Angels tied it on a Torii Hunter groundout in the 6th and that was all the two pitchers would allow. Darvish went 8 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 9 while walking 1 while Greinke allowing 1 run on 5 hits in his 8 frames, striking out 8 while walking none. Both Darvish and Greinke have been on fire of late, with Darvish posting a 1.84 ERA and a 52-9 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 6 starts while Greinke has managed a managed a 1.60 ERA and a 34-9 strikeout to walk ratio, and both continued their outstanding performances of late after struggling initially with their new teams. But Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers the lead and put Darvish in line for his 16th win with a 2-run homer, his 34th of the season, off Frieri, and Joe Nathan nailed down his 34th save in the bottom of the inning as the Rangers won 3-1. The Rangers maintain their 4-game lead in the AL West over the Athletics while pushing the Angels to the verge of elimination in the division race at 8.5 games back.

Here are the latest AL Wild Card standings. The Orioles were idle on Thursday.

1. Athletics —
2. Orioles —
3. Angels 4.5 GB
4. Rays 5.5 GB
5. Tigers 6.0 GB

The Athletics hold the tiebreaker over the Orioles and would host a potential Wild Card playoff between the two teams because they won their season series against them 5 games to 4.