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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Astros punch postseason ticket

The likely No. 1 seed is guaranteed a place at the dance with its fifth AL West title in six years.

Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Yankees were off last night, getting set to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a quick two-game set at home this week. The Blue Jays also had a night off, meaning both the top teams in the division would be standing still for a day. Let’s check in on the rest of the league.

Houston Astros 4 (97-51), Tampa Bay Rays 0 (82-65)

In one of those games where you wish, somehow, for both teams to lose, the club that the Yankees are chasing for the No. 1 overall seed blanked one of the two teams left with hopes of dethroning the Yankees atop the AL East. Jose Altuve hit his 25th home run of the year in the first inning, getting the ‘Stros off to a strong start, and Yordan Alvarez drove in a pair with a single in the sixth to add insurance.

The Astros also guaranteed themselves one of the two byes into the ALDS by winning their fifth AL West title since 2017, skipping the dangers of the three-game Wild Card series. The Yankees remain the odds-on favorite to clinch the other bye, and wrapping up the AL East as soon as possible would do exactly that.

Seattle Mariners 9 (81-65), Los Angeles Angels 1 (64-83)

After two good starts by Angels pitchers, you knew it couldn’t last. José Suarez gave up five runs in five innings, including Mitch Haniger’s RBI double in the first to give Seattle the early lead. The big blow, however, came in the fifth inning, with Carlos Santana at the plate and the sacks drunk:

Logan Gilbert, meanwhile, continued his somewhat-quiet excellent year, throwing six innings of one-run ball and a stellar 11:1 K:BB ratio. He lowered his ERA on the season to 3.13, and with him, Luis Castillo and George Kirby in a rotation together, no potential Wild Card opponent should take the M’s lightly.

Other Contenders

  • Cleveland Guardians 11 (80-67), Minnesota Twins 4 (73-74): I’m not sure if you would call it the Minnesota Massacre, but the Twins may have played themselves right out of the AL playoff picture, dropping four of five to the Guardians. (At the very least, we will not be including them after today.) Last night’s loss was a good old-fashioned shellacking, with Josh Naylor and Amed Rosario both clubbing three-run home runs and Nick Gordon adding one of his own.
  • Detroit Tigers 11 (56-91), Baltimore Orioles 0 (76-70): The semi-magical run may be over in Baltimore. Although they did spoil the Jays’ chances on Sunday, a blowout loss against the Tigers continued to push the O’s playoff odds closer to zero, and they’re five games back of Seattle in the Wild Card. Miguel Cabrera, in the lineup for the first time since September 2nd, swung a big bat in his return, driving in Javier Báez in the first inning, and scored a run himself in the fourth.