In between big series with the Rays and the Red Sox, the Yankees enjoyed a much-needed day off. Only three of their potential playoff rivals were in action — one blowout win in Detroit, and two thrilling, close contests in cold-weather cities.
Houston Astros 7 (91-50), Detroit Tigers 0 (54-87)
Sadly, this game went about exactly as you would expect when the AL’s best club takes on its second-worst. Houston put up a crooked number in the first, with Jeremy Peña and Alex Bregman bringing home a run each. Kyle Tucker was responsible for four runs on the night, bringing in one on a double play — no RBI, obviously —, one on a groundout, and the dagger two-run single in the ninth inning.
But just one run was all that Framber Valdez would need. I don’t know if this is his breakout season — he’s been damn good the last three years — but he had the best outing of the year at Comerica, throwing a complete game shutout and falling just 8 pitches short of the Maddux.
Toronto Blue Jays 3 (79-61), Tampa Bay Rays 2 (78-61)
The Jays beat the Rays, but really, Bo Bichette beat the Rays. Fresh off being awarded the American League Player of the Week, Toronto’s shortstop drove in all three runs in his club’s win over Tampa, a win that gave the Jays sole possession of the first AL Wild Card.
With the Rays up 1-0 in the fourth inning, Bichette pulled a hanging slider into left to tie the game up, but his biggest blow came, with his club down once again, in the eighth:
Not to be overlooked in this game was the performance of José Berríos, throwing 6.1 innings of one-run ball. It’s been a disaster of a season for Berríos, arguably the worst starting pitcher in all of baseball this season, but getting him back on track makes the Jays a very real playoff threat.