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Scoreboard Watching: Yankees’ magic number at four, home-field race still tight

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The Astros won last night to keep pace with the Yankees in the chase for home-field advantage.

Houston Astros v Kansas City Royals Photo by John Sleezer/Getty Images

On Friday night, the Trenton Thunder wrapped up their season by winning the Eastern League championship in four games. With that, the Yankees’ minor league affiliates have concluded play for the 2019 season. Consequently, we’ll have no more Baby Bomber Recaps until 2020.

Instead, we’ll spend each morning scoreboard watching. Check back here every day to keep an eye on the Yankees’ magic number, as well as the results across the American League that could have an impact on the Yankees’ ultimate road through the playoffs.

Astros keep pace with the Yankees, down Royals 6-1

The team Yankees fans probably have their eye on the most is the Astros, with New York and Houston locked in a battle for home-field advantage. The Astros played a few wild games last week, scoring 21 runs on the Mariners, only for the Athletics to drop 21 runs on them a few days later, but things have settled down for Houston. They cruised to a 6-1 victory over the lowly Royals last night on the strength of six-innings of one-run ball from trade acquisition Zack Greinke. Alex Bregman and rookie sensation Yordan Alvarez each homered to power the Astros.

With the win, the Astros moved to 97-53 and kept pace with the Yankees. New York owns a one-game lead on Houston, but the Astros hold the tiebreaker, having won the season series.

Minnesota sweeps Cleveland in doubleheader

With the Red Sox (delightfully) dropping out of playoff contention, the AL Wild Card has turned into a three-team race between Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Oakland. Cleveland’s hopes took a hit last night as the Twins won both halves of a doubleheader in Minnesota.

The Twins used a bullpen game to win game one 2-0, with a two-run shot from Jorge Polanco providing the only scoring. In game two, the Twins won a slugfest 9-5, thanks to dingers from Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario, and Miguel Sano. Cleveland now sits at 86-63, 2.5 games back of the Rays for the second Wild Card.

A’s defeat Rangers, Rays pull through in Anaheim

Elsewhere in the Wild Card race, the Athletics stayed red-hot. They won their fifth-straight game, defeating the Rangers 8-6 in Texas and running their September record to 11-2. Mike Fiers, sporting some scarcely believable facial hair, lasted only 1.2 innings for Oakland, but the A’s recovered thanks to home runs from Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Mark Canha, and Josh Phegley.

Meanwhile, the Rays got good news on multiple fronts. They defeated the Angels 3-1, and starter Tyler Glasnow, who’s struggled with forearm problems all year, managed three shutout innings, striking out five. If Tampa Bay can get one of their most electric arms stretched out, they could look that much more dangerous in October.

After Saturday’s action, the A’s sit at 89-60, and the Rays at 89-61. For what it’s worth, Oakland has the easier schedule the rest of the way, with dates with the Mariners, Royals, and Angels still on the docket.

It’s unclear if the Yankees should be rooting for any particular team to emerge victorious in this Wild Card chase. As time passes, though, the Rays and A’s appear to be separating themselves. Anything can happen in the season’s final two weeks, but Oakland and Tampa Bay clearly have the most direct route to the play-in game right now.

Magic number

With both the Yankees and the Rays winning, the Yankees’ magic number to clinch the AL East sits at four.