AL Wild Card Roundup: Indians Leapfrog Rangers for Wild Card Spot
By David Hill
Eighteen innings and seven hours. Should the Rays make the postseason, David DeJesus may go down in Rays lore the same way Dan Johnson has, as someone who provided a clutch hit that ultimately catapulted the team to the playoffs. That marathon win keeps the Rays atop the American League Wild Card standings heading into today’s slate of games; however, there were some changes in the pecking order last night.
Cleveland Indians 2, Houston Astros 1 – Seven Innings
You have to give the Astros credit. Despite being on their way towards what is likely to be the top pick of the draft, they have continued to play hard, as the Indians have come to find out over the past couple of days. Houston took an early lead against the Cleveland starter Zach McAllister, as Gerald Laird hit a solo home run to put the Astros on the board. The Tribe came back in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out against Brett Oberholtzer. Mike Aviles hit into an RBI fielder’s choice, tying the game for Cleveland. Cleveland then took the lead on a play that truly underscored the Astros ineptness this season. With runners on first and second, Michael Brantley hit a grounder to first baseman Chris Carter, who attempted to get the lead runner at third. His throw ended up in left, as everyone was safe. Ryan Raburn attempted to score, leading to yet another error as Astros left fielder Marc Krauss. The Astros had a chance to tie the game in the top of the fifth, loading the bases with two outs, but were unable to push a run across. Heavy rains came through the area after the top of the seventh, and Cleveland took a rain shortened victory.
New York Yankees 5, San Francisco Giants 1
Almost all year, C.C. Sabathia just has not looked right for the Yankees, and is in the midst of what may be the worst season of his career. However, with New York’s flickering playoff hopes on the line, he looked more like the perennial Cy Young Award candidate that he had been than the pitcher of 2013. Juan Perez doubled in the only run of the game for the Giants in the third, as Sabathia held the Giants offense in check. The Yankees got an early run on a home run by Alfonso Soriano, as the score remained tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh. New York loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with two outs, bringing up Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez deposited the 2-1 pitch into the right field seats for a grand slam, providing the winning margin in the Yankees 5-1 victory. Sabathia scattered seven hits and three walks, striking out four for the win.
Kansas City Royals 2, Texas Rangers 1
Despite splitting their four game set with the Rays, the Rangers have been in free fall mode. Meanwhile, the Royals have been hot as of late. Both trneds continued last night, as the Royals took a close game against Texas. The Rangers scored first in the top of the second, as Adrian Beltre singled to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI double by A.J. Pierzynski. The Royals tied the game in the bottom of the inning, when Justin Maxwell hit an RBI double of his own to tie the game. The Rangers loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth, but Ervin Santana struck out Elvis Andrus to end the threat. The Royals had the same situation in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with two outs. However, they were able to capitalize, as Alcides Escobar drew a four pitch walk to force home the winning run.
With the Rangers loss and the Indians victory, the playoffs have taken on a different look presently. Meanwhile, the race for the postseason tightened just a bit more, with the Royals and Yankees pulling a little closer to the playoffs.
1. Tampa Bay (84-69)
2. Cleveland (84-70)
3. Texas (83-70), 0.5 GB
4. Baltimore (81-72), 2.5 GB
5. Kansas City (81-72), 2.5 GB
6. New York (81-73), 3.0 GB
BAL @ TAM (1:05 PM EST): Miguel Gonzalez vs. Alex Cobb
SF @ NYY (1:05 PM EST): Ryan Vogelsong vs. Ivan Nova
HOU @ CLE (6:05 PM EST): Paul Clemens vs. Scott Kazmir
TEX @ KC: (7:10 PM EST): Matt Garza vs. Jeremy Guthrie