A.L. Playoffs Chase: Sunday-Morning Update

Minneapolis, MN, USA: Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The American League postseason races remained tight Saturday, and one got closer.

A.L. East W L
Yankees 82 63 -
Orioles 81 64 1
Rays 78 67 4

Yankees 5, Rays 3: The Rays fell four games behind the Yankees in the AL East as James Shields got roughed up, allowing two home runs -- one to Curtis Granderson, one to Eduardo Nunez. The Rays cut the lead to 4-3 in the eighth, but an insurance run and Rafael Soriano's 39th save nailed it down for New York, who got an outstanding outing from Ivan Nova in his first start back from a shoulder issue.

Athletics 5, Orioles 2: Baltimore dropped a game behind the Yankees in the AL East with this defeat; after the Orioles took a 2-0 lead, Oakland pushed across five runs in the bottom of the third, highlighted by a home run from Stephen Drew. Jarrod Parker threw seven strong innings for the winners, and Grant Balfour posted his 19th save. Nate McLouth hit a solo home run off Parker for one of the two Baltimore runs.

A.L. Central W L
White Sox 78 66 -
Tigers 77 67 1

White Sox 5, Twins 3: Francisco Liriano had pitched so poorly for the White Sox that he was demoted to the bullpen. But Thursday's rainout forced a rotation shuffle, and Liriano got another shot at starting, this time against his former team. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, losing it only when Trevor Plouffe followed a hit batsman with a two-run homer. Paul Konerko homered for the ChiSox, but they had to summon Matt Thornton to finish the game off when closer Addison Reed struggled in the ninth.

Tigers 5, Indians 3: The games involving the AL Central contenders were eerily similar. Anibal Sanchez also took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before losing it, and the Indians cut Detroit's lead to 5-2. But Jose Valverde nailed down his 31st save for the Tigers, who remained one game behind the White Sox; the two teams will play a makeup game on Monday in Chicago. Miguel Cabrera socked his 37th home run for Detroit.

A.L. West W L
Rangers
86 59 -
Athletics
84 61 2

Mariners 8, Rangers 6: The Rangers' quest to clinch the AL West is not only on hold, but now they have the A's just two games behind, after dropping a home game to Seattle. Scott Feldman didn't make it out of the third inning, giving up six runs. The Rangers fought back from a 6-0 deficit to tie the game; Mike Napoli's three-run homer in the sixth was the big blow. But Texas' bullpen couldn't do its job Saturday night; Justin Smoak's home run off Taylor Scheppers put Seattle on top 7-6, and they added a ninth-inning run for the win.

A.L. Wild Card W L
Athletics
84 61 3
Orioles 81 63 -
Angels 79 67
Rays 78 67 3
Tigers 77 67

Royals 3, Angels 2: The Angels' desperate late-season run toward a postseason spot hit a speed bump Saturday as the Royals hit two home runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. Zack Greinke had thrown eight shutout innings, but after Alex Gordon hit a one-out single, Mike Scioscia brought in closer Ernesto Frieri. Billy Butler hit Frieri's first pitch for a game-tying homer, and three pitches later, Salvador Perez launched one off the left-field foul pole for his first career walkoff home run.

Up next: All of the above series conclude Sunday; the Yankees could put the Rays in a very difficult spot if they win Sunday's game, and the Angels are also in a tough place if they can't win their series at Kansas City.

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