We’re down to the nitty gritty here with only Saturday and Sunday action remaining in the regular season — unless a one-game playoff is needed on Monday, which is definitely possible — and the American League wild-card race is going down to the wire. Four teams are involved in the jockeying for the two spots. All four, obviously, were in action Friday, though unfortunately none of them played head-to-head.
The top dog here would be the Yankees, who came into Friday’s action with a two-game lead over both the Mariners and Red Sox for the top spot.
The Yankees lost what was once a pitchers duel to the Rays, 4-3.
Offense was hard to come by in this one until the ninth. Nelson Cruz got the Rays on the board in the first inning with a solo shot.
That’s number 32 on the year for the seemingly ageless 41 year-old-slugger.
The Yankees would strike right back in the bottom of the first. Gleyber Torres led off with a double and later was plated on a Giancarlo Stanton single.
Rays starter Shane McClanahan went three innings before the Rays’ deep bullpen got the game to the ninth with a 2-1 advantage.
The Rays got runners to second and third with two outs in the top of the ninth and rookie wunderkind Wander Franco banged one right back up the middle to score two runs and provide some breathing room for the Rays.
As it turns out, they’d need it. The Yankees got a double from Giancarlo Stanton, who then took third due to a drastic shift against Joey Gallo. Gallo would also take advantage, sending a bunt single down the third-base line. Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner followed with singles and it was 4-3. Rays All-Star reliever Andrew Kittredge would escape, however.
With the loss, the Yankees can’t clinch a playoff berth just yet, nor can anyone else in this group.
Key AL wild-card games, scores
AL wild-card standings
1. Yankees: 91-69 (+1 G)
2. Red Sox: 90-70 —
3. Mariners: 89-71 (1 GB)
4. Blue Jays: 89-71 (1 GB)