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Scoreboard Watching: Yankees still alive in race for home-field advantage

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The Yankees were off last night, but there was still plenty of action across the majors.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees’ playoff path is looking more clear by the day. New York was off last night, but there was still plenty of action across MLB, and it left us with just a slightly better picture of the team’s ultimate path through October. Let’s run down the relevant games.

Astros walked off by Angels in the 12th

Houston was the favorite to secure home-field entering this final week, thanks to a soft closing schedule, and they’ve taken advantage. While the Yankees were playing tough games with a talented Rays team, the Astros took it to the the Mariners. Now, with a series against the Angels, they have every chance to secure the top seed in the AL.

The Astros fell behind the Angels 3-0 early on last night, but came back on the strength of home runs by Kyle Tucker and Jack Mayfield to tie the game at three. Each team’s bats went silent from there until the 12th inning. Kaleb Cowart scored on Kyle Tucker’s error, and the Angels won 4-3.

Houston is 104-55 and 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the race for home-field. Since the Astros have the head-to-head tiebreaker, they still need only one more win, or Yankees loss, to clinch the top seed. Nonetheless, the Yankees still have a slim shot at the AL’s best record.

Cleveland fades in Wild Card race

The A’s and Rays entered last night with the high ground in the chase for the AL’s two Wild Card slots. Oakland was a half-game clear of Tampa Bay, who was 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland. Tampa Bay was off, while the A’s topped the Mariners and Cleveland was crushed at the hands of the White Sox.

Chicago took it to Cleveland starter Aaron Civale, who was hit for four runs in 3.1 innings. Daniel Palka, who as of three weeks ago was 1-for-54 on the season, smashed two homers to power the White Sox to an 8-0 win.

The A’s eased past Seattle for a 3-1 victory. Felix Hernandez was uneven in what was an emotional final game in a Mariners uniform, yielding five runs on five hits and four walks in 5.1 innings. Sean Manaea pitched well for the A’s, allowing one run in six innings. The young lefty’s recovery from injury at the end of this season has to leave the team feeling encouraged about their pitching staff entering October.

By the end of the night, Oakland was one game ahead of the Rays, while Cleveland lagged behind Tampa by two games. Each team has three contests left. It is likely at this point that the A’s will clash with the Rays in this year’s AL Wild Card Game.

Dodgers move ahead of Yankees

LA’s success isn’t particularly germane to the Yankees’ playoff chances, but they’re still worth mentioning. The Dodgers defeated the Padres in a 1-0 shutout, thanks to six excellent innings from Clayton Kershaw. The veteran lefty struck out six and allowed two hits in lowering his season ERA to 3.05. A Max Muncy RBI single in the sixth provided the game’s only scoring.

The Dodgers are now 103-56, one game ahead of the Yankees. As LA is the NL favorite, they would be the Yankees’ most likely opponent should the Bombers take the pennant. Home-field advantage in such a series wouldn’t be the worst thing.