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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Jays’ magic number down to 1, AL West bunches up

Friday night left the AL West all in a jumble with just two games to go.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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 29th.

Toronto Blue Jays (89-71) 11, Tampa Bay Rays (97-63) 4

Closing in on a playoff spot, the Jays took a sledgehammer to Tampa pitching last night. They pounded out 16 hits, with Aaron Civale, Zack Littell, and Erasmo Ramirez all wearing it as part of a bullpen game from Tampa. Alejandro Kirk, Matt Chapman, and Brandon Belt each homered to provide the power. Kirk led the way with three RBI, while Bo Bichette went 4-for-5. Yusei Kikuchi, presumably well-rested, was sharp early on, shutting out the Rays through five as the Jays opened up an 8-0 lead. Kikuchi did falter and let up a few in the sixth, but Toronto tacked on a few more to ease to big win.

Seattle Mariners (87-73) 8, Texas Rangers (89-71) 0

Texas just needs to win one game to clinch a spot in the dance, but the Mariners won’t go away. A night after taking a dramatic, comeback victory thanks to J.P. Crawford’s walk-off double, Crawford again starred, smashing a grand slam in the fourth inning off of Brock Burke:

Burke had just relieved Nathan Eovaldi, who was charged for seven runs in 3.1 innings. Punched in the mouth early, the Rangers couldn’t muster any sort of comeback. Bryan Woo and a parade of relievers shut out Texas, yielding just three hits. The Rangers still need just one win to clinch a playoff spot, but the M’s have denied them, keeping their own playoff hopes very much alive in the process.

Houston Astros (88-72) 2, Arizona Diamondbacks (84-76) 0

In a staring contest out west, the Astros didn’t blink. Houston knew Seattle was winning big over Texas, and that they’d likely need a win to keep the Mariners from pulling even in the standings. The ‘Stros shut down the Diamondbacks, with Jose Urquidy managing one his best starts of the whole year, six shutout innings of two-hit ball.

For his part, Arizona ace Zac Gallen had the Astros scoreless through five, but José Abreu broke the deadlock, with a booming double, one that was originally ruled a home run, that scored two in the sixth:

Arizona did threaten late, with Hector Neris putting runners on second and third with two out in the eighth, but getting Tommy Pham to ground out to end the inning. Closer Ryan Pressly let the D’backs get on the board in the ninth, but stranded the tying at run at second to end the game.

Boston Red Sox (77-83) 3, Baltimore Orioles (100-60) 0

Fresh off clinching their first AL East title in nine years, the Orioles may have been nursing a bit of a hangover. Nick Pivetta and Garrett Whitlock combined to two-hit shut out Baltimore, taking this one 3-0.

Minnesota Twins (86-74) 7, Colorado Rockies (58-102) 6

The Twins tacked on another win, though it wasn’t exactly in the fashion they would’ve liked. Joe Ryan, presumably one of Minnesota’s playoff starters, struggled in Coors Field, letting up six runs over five frames. Max Kepler drove in the winning run on a sac fly in the ninth to take it for Minnesota.