St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Ben Zobrist hits a walk off two-run home run in the eleventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field. Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The American League playoff races continue to be tight, as eight teams are within 3½ games of the five postseason spots.
The American League East no longer has two teams tied for its top spot... yet somehow, the race seems even tighter Saturday morning, with three teams now within two games of first place.
Yankees 8, Orioles 5: The New Yorkers used the long ball to defeat the host Orioles. Alex Rodriguez, Steve Pearce and Russell Martin all went deep; the Yankees built up a 7-0 lead by the fifth inning. Baltimore tried to mount a comeback, matching the three round-trippers; Adam Jones, Robert Andino and rookie Manny Machado homered for the Birds, but it wasn't enough, as the Yankees took back sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Rays 3, Rangers 1: The Rays have a knack for these sorts of things in playoff races, it seems. After the teams traded single runs in the fifth (Rays) and sixth (Rangers), no one scored the rest of the way through the regulation nine. Wade Davis struck out five of the six hitters he faced in extra innings, and Ben Zobrist won the game for the Rays with a walkoff home run after B.J. Upton led off the bottom of the 11th with a walk.
Royals 7, White Sox 5: The Royals continued their curious domination of the White Sox this season, winning for the ninth time in 13 meetings. Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain hit a pair of home runs, the second one, a two-run shot, the eventual game-winner in the top of the ninth. The White Sox hit three homers of their own (Alexei Ramirez, A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios), but it wasn't enough.
Angels 3, Tigers 2: Fortunately for the White Sox, the Tigers also lost Friday night, to the wild-card-contending Angels in Anaheim. This maintained Chicago's lead at one game over Detroit. The game was tied at 2 after three innings; the Angels won in walkoff fashion when Alberto Callaspo singled home pinch-runner Peter Bourjos with two out in the ninth. With the win, the Angels crept to within two games of a wild-card spot.
Athletics 6, Mariners 1: A.J. Griffin allowed just one run in 5⅓ innings and late-season waiver pickup George Kottaras hit a three-run homer to lead the A's to the victory in Seattle, where the Mariners had won 11 of their previous 15 home games. Cliff Pennington went 4-for-4 to pace a 13-hit Oakland attack. Mariners ace Felix Hernandez got hit hard, allowing 11 of those 13 hits in just 4⅔ innings.
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Next Up: All of the above series continue Saturday, with an afternoon affair between the Royals and White Sox in Chicago; all the rest of the games between the contenders will be under the lights. The top pitching matchup pits Tigers ace Justin Verlander against Angels lefthander C.J. Wilson.