The Yankees have been officially eliminated, but since we’re all fans of baseball as a whole anyway, Pinstripe Alley is going to see this series through to the end of the regular season. We’ll keep you posted on the end of the American League playoff race as the final spots are determined. Stay tuned for more postseason coverage as well.
Here’s what went on yesterday, September 24th.
Kansas City Royals (54-102) 3, Houston Astros (85-71) 2
First things first: a big ol’ hearty lol at the mighty Astros getting swept by the Royals.
The 2023 season has sucked but if it can offer one tiny carrot to Yankees fans in the Astros failing to make the playoffs, then I would be most grateful. The Mariners will need to start winning games again because they’re one win behind the Astros, but they’ll go head-to-head with Houston for three in Seattle beginning today.
As for the actual Royals/Astros game, Nelson Velázquez was the hero for KC, as he mashed dingers in the second and the third. That led the Royals to a 6-2 advantage, and though Houston chipped away against Alec Marsh, the unlikely trio of Tucker Davidson, Carlos Hernández, and James McArthur held on with 2.2 shutout innings.
Texas Rangers (87-68) 9, Seattle Mariners (84-71) 8
The Rangers are quite a weird club. This is their sequence of events since Labor Day:
- Four-game losing streak, including an Arlington sweep at Houston’s hands
- Six-game winning streak, including a mop of the Blue Jays in Toronto
- Four-game losing streak
- Five game winning streak (current)
They have their eyes on the AL West prize now that they’ve swept the Mariners, who now sit three back of Texas. The Astros are 2.5 games behind as well. Marcus Semien went yard twice as part of a six-homer throttling of M’s pitching, but they needed their shaky bullpen to hold on after Nathan Eovaldi only lasted five innings. Martín Pérez and Chris Stratton were no help, but Jonathan Hernández, Brock Burke, and José Leclerc held down the fort.
Toronto Blue Jays 9 (87-69), Tampa Bay Rays (95-62) 5
After underachieving for so much of the 2023 campaign, the Blue Jays are finally clicking at the right time. They’ve won three series in a row and seven of their last nine after beating the Rays in two out of three at the Trop. That’s no small feat since Tampa Bay was 52-26 (.667) at home entering this weekend. George Springer changed the game with an inside-the-parker that took a weird bounce in left-center field, putting the Jays up by a 5-2 margin. A pair of more traditional bombs from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added insurance. By the way, this could very well be a Wild Card Series matchup, as the Jays are currently the second Wild Card and if the season ended today, they’d face the Rays — again at the Trop.
Baltimore Orioles (97-59) 5, Cleveland Guardians (74-83) 1
The Orioles’ magic number to clinch their first AL East crown since 2014 is down to three since they won and Tampa Bay lost. They took care of business against lanky right-hander Triston McKenzie, who was making his first start since mid-June. Rookie Jordan Westburg doubled in the second to give Baltimore an early lead that they held onto, and they scored two more runs in that same inning. Kyle Gibson threw seven frames of one-run ball to get the victory.
Minnesota Twins (83-73) 9, Los Angeles Angels (70-86) 3
Pablo López and Sonny Gray have already been announced as the Twins’ first two Wild Card Series starters, but the odds are good that if there’s a win-or-go-home Game 3, Joe Ryan will get the nod. So skipper Rocco Baldelli had to like seeing the 27-year-old righty fan 10 in six innings (albeit while allowing three runs). Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Ryan Jeffers all homered to key the series victory for Minnesota. Also of note: Chris Paddack tried to make his post-Tommy John surgery return out of the bullpen but rain thwarted that.