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 25th.
Houston Astros (86-71) 5, Seattle Mariners (84-72) 1
The Astros and Mariners both had less than stellar weekends, both losing ground to Texas in the AL West fight. However, something had to change when they faced off against each other in a series starting last night. As for the opener, it was Houston who saw in change in fortunes, thanks to an excellent outing from Justin Verlander, who came just a couple outs away from a complete game shutout.
The Astros broke through on the scoreboard thanks to a three-run second inning. While they were facing off against an ace themselves in Luis Castillo, they put up three runs on four hits in the second off him, and followed that up with a homer from Yordan Alvarez in the third.
That ended up being plenty of runs considering the effort they got from Verlander. He ended up going eight innings, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out eight. The lone run came after Dusty Baker sent him back out for a complete game shutout in the ninth. Josh Rojas led off with a double to knock out Verlander, and eventually came around to score against reliever Bryan Abreu. That ended up being the extent of the Mariners’ rally though, as they took another hit to their playoff hopes.
Texas Rangers (88-68) 5, Los Angeles Angels (70-87) 1
Meanwhile, the Rangers maintained their edge over Houston and took another step closer in the race as they dispatched a depleted Angels’ team.
LA actually struck first, scoring a run off Rangers’ starter Jon Gray in the first. They then held onto that lead for a while. Their starter — Patrick Sandoval — lasted just three innings after walking five, but they went into the late innings with the lead. That’s when things swung in the other direction.
With one out in the sixth inning, Adolis García tied things up with a solo homer. Mitch Garver and Nathaniel Lowe then followed that with homers of their own as Texas went back-to-back-to-back to storm in front.
After that, Rangers’ pitching would finish things off with seven scoreless innings as their offense got them some breathing room. Marcus Semien added to the home run derby with a solo shot in the seventh, while the Angels gave them a gift with a run-scoring wild pitch in the eighth.
It’s not that the Angels didn’t have any more chances after that, they just didn’t push any more runs across after the second inning. LA put up eight hits on the day, but Texas ended the day by retiring the last eight Angels’ hitters to ensure that things didn’t get too scary for them. The win maintains the Rangers’ 2.5 game lead over the Astros and extends it to a four game advantage over the Mariners, as their magic number for a playoff spot of any kind fell to three.