At long last, the wait is over. The Yankees clinched the AL East last night after a 5-2 win over Toronto. They’re all but assured to be the two-seed with Houston barreling down on home field advantage throughout the ALCS, but that means that they can now wait for the rest of the playoff picture to align. One of the teams they could face is Cleveland thanks to the format aligning the three-seed on their half of the bracket, but who will play the Guardians is still up in the air. That means there’s a few games that highly matter still, so let’s get into them:
Tampa Bay Rays 6 (85-69), Cleveland Guardians 5 (86-68)
Tampa jumped out to a big 4-1 lead after the top of the fourth, but this game was far from decided. Cleveland immediately rallied for two runs thanks to a bevy of singles, and in the eighth with a man on and two outs they overturned a call that initially had Miles Straw ground out and instead gave him an RBI single to tie the game.
The game dragged on to the 11th, when the Rays made two outs before Wander Franco worked a walk and stole a base, setting up two runners in scoring position for Harold Ramirez. Ramirez delivered with a double to plate them both, and the insurance run was necessary after Jose Ramirez scored the ghost runner in the bottom half of the inning on a single. Cleveland couldn’t get the tying run in, however, and the Rays walked out with a win that brings them a little closer to Toronto in the Wild Card standings.
Arizona Diamondbacks 2 (71-84), Houston Astros 10 (102-53)
Houston walked into this one with a massive difference in standing between them and their opponent, and they didn’t let themselves fall into the trap game this time. Jose Altuve got his team on the board immediately with a leadoff homer, the 12th time that he’s launched one to start off the game for Houston. That tied Altuve with former Astro George Springer for the most leadoff homers in a season in franchise history, and Altuve threw in another homer just for fun later in the game. Fun fact, the record for the most all-time leadoff homers in a season is 13, set by Alfonso Soriano in 2003.
Texas Rangers 5 (66-87), Seattle Mariners 0 (83-70)
The Mariners are trying to hold onto their sixth-seed place in the playoffs, but it’s been an up-and-down month for the M’s. They’ve dropped a number of games and kept Baltimore in the hunt, as well as keeping them from challenging for one of the higher Wild Card seeds. This was another opportunity blown by Seattle, as Texas blanked them while rolling out a bullpen game. Josh Jung delivered all of the offense, hitting two home runs and driving in all five runs for the Rangers.
- Baltimore Orioles 9 (80-74), Boston Red Sox 13 (73-81): There was no effective starting pitching to be had here — both team’s starters didn’t make it out of the fourth and gave up a combined 13 runs. The Orioles’ relievers got off to a rougher start, however, giving up an additional six runs to put the Sox ahead for good.