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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Astros maintain grasp on final Wild Card

The battle for both the AL West and the third Wild Card is reaching its climax.

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

If you look up the definition of ace in a dictionary, you are likely to find an image of Gerrit Cole beside the word. In his 300th big league start and the 33rd and final start of his 2023 season, the Yankees’ workhorse pitched a two-hit complete game shutout over the Blue Jays, capping off a marvelous campaign that should conclude in the first Cy Young win of his career. The win over the Blue Jays brought their opponents one game closer to the melee below them in the Wild Card standings, so let’s see how the other results around the league impacted that race.

Tampa Bay Rays (97-62) 5, Boston Red Sox (76-82) 0

Tyler Glasnow was dominant, tossing five scoreless innings allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out nine, followed by four shutout innings by the bullpen against whom Boston managed just one hit. His counterpart Brayan Bello had the opposite experience, getting knocked around for five runs on nine hits in six innings.

Josh Lowe went 3-for-3, opening the scoring with homer to lead off the second. Isaac Paredes also homered and drove in a pair as part of his 2-for-4 night. Three straight singles and a sac fly plated two runs for the Rays in the fourth and Paredes’ two-run shot pushed across another pair in the fourth as Tampa clinched the second Wild Card with their 5-0 win.

Baltimore Orioles (99-59) 5, Washington Nationals (69-90) 1

The Orioles faced little opposition in the Beltway Series, sweeping the two-game set over the Nationals allowing one run across the 18 innings. Rookie Grayson Rodriguez is finding his footing at just the right time, holding Washington to a run on six hits with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings as he’s now fired 12 straight starts allowing three earned runs or fewer. Adley Rutschman had the big day on offense, going 2-for-4 wile driving in three starting with a two-run blast in the third to open the scoring.

Baltimore scored another two in the fifth on a Rutschman RBI single and Jordan Westburg walk with the bases loaded. Austin Hays wrapped up the scoring with an RBI single in the sixth as the Orioles managed to maintain their 2.5 game lead over the Rays in the AL East, reducing their magic number for the division to one.

Minnesota Twins (85-73) 6, Oakland Athletics (48-110) 4

On a day when Pablo López didn’t have his best stuff — three runs on five hits in 4.1 innings — the Twins offense picked their starter up. Minnesota actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to an Edouard Julien home run to lead off the first and Kyle Farmer RBI double in the second, but Oakland responded scoring one in the third and three in the fifth to knock López from the contest. That set up the comeback victory spearheaded by Ryan Jeffers and his three RBI — two in the sixth on a two-run blast and one in the Twins’ two-run eighth on a sac fly.

Emilio Pagan, Jhoan Duran, Dallas Keuchel and Griffin Jax combined for four innings of scoreless relief to wrap up the Twins’ 6-4 victory.

Texas Rangers (89-69) 5, Los Angeles Angels (71-88) 0

Dane Dunning was brilliant, tossing seven shutout innings allowing just three hits and a walk against seven strikeouts. This game was close until the very end, Angels starter holding the Rangers to two runs through six. Adolis García accounted for both of those — an RBI double in the first and a solo shot in the third. Texas tacked on three runs in the ninth on back-to-back bombs by Evan Carter and Marcus Semien, the former of the two run variety.

Semien, García, and Corey Seager all had two hits on the evening as the Rangers cruised to a 5-0 victory to maintain a 2.5 game lead over the Astros in the division.

Houston Astros (87-72) 8, Seattle Mariners (85-73) 3

Neither Framber Valdez nor Bryce Miller brought their A-game to the ballpark, both starters lasting just four innings with the former giving up three runs against the latter’s four. J.P. Crawford homered to lead off the first, but Houston hung a pair of crooked numbers, scoring four in the fourth and three in the seventh to put this game out of reach. Yordan Alvarez led off that fourth with a mammoth blast, and after a pair of singles from José Abreu and Michael Brantley, Mauricio Dubón also left the yard to push across a further three.

Eugenio Suárez responded with a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth, but an Alex Bregman single, Kyle Tucker double, Abreu single and Brantley single accounted for Houston’s trio of runs in the third. Even Martín Maldonado got in on the fun, leading off the eighth with a homer.

Brantley marked his return to the lineup with a three-hit night as the Astros responded to Tuesday night’s loss to the Mariners with a resounding victory to take the series, growing their lead to 1.5 games over Seattle for the third Wild Card spot. Houston has three more games against a Diamondbacks squad desperate to fend off the NL Wild Card challengers while the Mariners wrap up their season with a massive four-game set against the Rangers that will likely determine the winner of the division and the final Wild Card entry into the postseason.