Eduardo Nunez of the New York Yankees is doused with water by Nick Swisher after being called safe on a fielding error by first basemen Brandon Moss allowing the game-winning run to score in the 14th inning as Josh Reddick of the Oakland Athletics walks off the field at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Two very long extra-inning games were played by AL East contenders on Saturday; both won, keeping the race tight.
There were two extra-inning games involving playoff contenders that could go down as classics in the annals of those teams.
Yankees 10, Athletics 9, 14 innings: After the Yankees spotted the A's a four-run lead in the top of the 13th inning on home runs by Jonny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Carter, they came back with four of their own to tie the contest in the last half of the inning on a Raul Ibanez two-run blast, his second homer of the game. In the bottom of the 14th with two out, Melky Mesa, making his major-league debut as a pinch-runner, missed third base when he could have scored the winning run on a one-out single by Alex Rodriguez and had to hold; he was out at the plate when Robinson Cano hit into a fielder's choice. The next hitter, Eduardo Nunez, hit a ground ball to first baseman Brandon Moss that should have ended the inning, but Moss bobbled it for an error and the winning run scored.
Orioles 9, Red Sox 6, 12 innings: The Orioles have been almost unbeatable in extra innings this year; they continued their dominance by winning their 16th consecutive extra-inning game of 2012, this time in Fenway Park, after blowing a 6-3 seventh-inning lead. 42-year-old veteran Jim Thome, recently returned from back trouble, doubled in the go-ahead run in a three-run 12th to give Baltimore the win and keep them just a game behind the Yankees in the tight AL East.
Angels 4, White Sox 2: The White Sox lost their fourth consecutive game and second straight to the surging Angels, who sneaked to within 2½ games of the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Anaheimers scored all of their runs in the first inning of White Sox rookie Jose Quintana; Albert Pujols posted his 99th RBI of the season. Dan Haren threw six solid innings for the White Sox, who lost manager Robin Ventura for the night when he was ejected arguing a controversial balk call on Quintana.
Tigers 8, Twins 0: After a rained-out game Friday, Detroit came out with all bats firing Saturday, pounding out 12 hits against three Minnesota pitchers, including three home runs. One of those homers was Miguel Cabrera's 42nd of the season; he now leads the AL in all three Triple Crown categories (tied with Josh Hamilton for the home-run lead).
Mariners 1, Rangers 0: Seattle beat Texas for the second straight night as Blake Beavan threw seven shutout innings, allowing eight hits. The Rangers got the first two runners on base in the eighth inning, but Seattle's bullpen prevented them from scoring; eventually, Tom Wilhelmsen posted his 29th save for the hosts; for visiting Texas, their magic number to clinch the AL West was reduced to eight when the Athletics lost to the Yankees.
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Rays 11, Blue Jays 5: In 2011, Tampa Bay made a late-season run at a wild-card spot and won it on the season's final day -- final regular-season play, in fact. After a tough time, the Rays have won four straight and trail the second wild-card spot by 3½ games with 10 remaining. Saturday, they scored in double digits for the second straight night against the battered Toronto pitching staff; Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Jose Molina homered for the winners.
Up next: All of the above series conclude Saturday; the Tigers and Twins will play a doubleheader in Detroit. If they sweep and the Angels beat the White Sox, Detroit will be in first place by a game, although a Twins sweep and a White Sox win could put Detroit two games behind.