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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: All even in the Wild West

No race figures to be as close as the AL West throughout September, as the three leaders are virtually tied.

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

The Yankees have resembled a competent ballclub on the field for the last couple of days, recording back-to-back wins for the first time since the start of the month. It may be too little, too late, but at least it’s a better watch than what they’ve been putting on display for most of August. Meanwhile, the playoff push continues on around them, with a particularly tight race out west gaining steam.

Wild Card Mix

Houston Astros (76-58) 6, Boston Red Sox (69-64) 2

The Astros are down by a game in the loss column to the Rangers and Mariners, so despite their virtual tie they still have some work to do to catch up. Beating up on Boston some more helps out, and they got right to work doing so with a pair of solo shots by Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez in the first inning.

Brayan Bello calmed down from there to pitch a few consecutive shutout innings, but trouble started to brew again in the fifth. Mauricio Dubón got on via an error, stole second, and then scored on a Bregman single that chased Bello. From there Boston’s bullpen coughed up two more runs in the sixth on a Dubón double, and a tack-on run in the seventh from a Jose Abreu groundout with the bases loaded. Meanwhile, J.P. France tossed a solid 5.2 inning, two-run outing and turned it over to an Astros ‘pen that locked the game down the rest of the way. At 6.5 games behind in the Wild Card, the faint Red Sox playoff hopes are quickly fading in Beantown.

Washington Nationals (62-71) 5, Toronto Blue Jays (72-61) 4

The Nationals jumped out to a 5-1 lead after five innings, powered by a Carter Kieboom homer in the second and a Keibert Ruiz bomb in the fifth off of José Berríos. The only damage to that point against them was a Davis Schneider solo shot in the third inning, the sole blemish on MacKenzie Gore’s otherwise decent day.

The Blue Jays wouldn’t go away though, and they scored in each of the last three frames to make it a close contest again. Schneider got them one back in the seventh on an RBI double, a wild pitch brought home another in the eighth, and after loading the bases with no one out in the ninth a Vladdy groundout forced home one. However, the Jays were suddenly down to their last out with only the one run to show for it, and Danny Jansen popped out to strand the tying and winning runs.

Division Contenders

Baltimore Orioles (83-49) 9, Chicago White Sox (51-81) 3

This was a tight contest until the O’s suddenly made it a laugher in just two innings. Tied at one entering the seventh, Anthony Santander unleashed a bases-clearing double that put Baltimore ahead for good. Just to properly put it away, however, the O’s added five runs in the eighth on a string of seven hits in eight at-bats (with the lone out being a run-producing groundout). Chicago got two back in the ninth, but it was in garbage time in the blink of an eye.

Tampa Bay Rays (81-52) 11, Miami Marlins (66-66) 2

The Rays also had to dig themselves out of a sticky situation and turned it into a laugher, though they were actually briefly down 2-1 to Miami. However, a three-run sixth inning and a pair of homers in the seventh put them firmly back in control of the game, and just for fun Isaac Paredes hit a three-run shot in the ninth with the game well and truly out of reach already to add a little salt in the wounds of their fellow Florida residents.

Oakland Athletics (39-94) 3, Seattle Mariners (75-57) 1

You can beat ‘em 94 times, but good luck beating ‘em 95 times! The A’s played spoiler here thanks to a 3-0 lead grabbed after just two innings, first with a solo shout in the first from Seth Brown and then with a two-run blast in the next inning off the bat of Shea Langeliers. Former Yankee prospect Ken Waldichuk managed to go four innings while only allowing one run despite looking incredibly shaky, handing out five walks and walking in the aforementioned run in the process. So after 91 pitches Oakland saw enough and went to their ‘pen for a five-man, five inning tag-team effort that delivered a shutout result the rest of the way.

Texas Rangers (75-57) 2, New York Mets (60-73) 1

The Rangers’ spot here was in jeopardy for a while, but they’ve righted the ship a tad with two consecutive wins to remain in the West deadlock. Their high-flying offense never really got going against the Mets though, as José Quintana shut them out for six innings. Drew Smith entered for the seventh and was greeted with a Mitch Garver homer, and in the ninth the Rangers got needed insurance on an Ezequiel Duran RBI single that prevented Mark Vientos’ solo shot in the bottom of the ninth from tying the game. Instead, Aroldis Chapman managed to hold on and convert the save.

Cleveland Guardians (63-70) 4, Minnesota Twins (69-64) 2

You can take the Rock Fight out of the roundup, but you can’t take the AL Central out of the Rock Fight. Pablo López had a decent day, tossing six innings of three-run ball despite allowing 11 baserunners, but Minnesota’s offense couldn’t get going to bail him out. Emmanuel Clase entered the ninth with a 4-1 lead and had a hiccup against Michael A. Taylor that resulted in a solo shot, but otherwise there was little drama involved. The Twins remain six games up on the Guardians.