A.L. Playoff Races: Thursday-Morning Update

Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles hits a two-run homer against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Yup. Wednesday night the Baltimore Orioles did it again, winning their 15th straight extra-inning game. Oh, and there was some other stuff too.

A.L. East W L
Yankees 85 63 -
Orioles 85 64 ½

There wasn't much movement Wednesday, but then again it's hard to get much movement in a single day. Oddly, one team lost ground despite winning, but we'll get to that in one New York minute...

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2; Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: The Yankees entered play Wednesday with just a share of first place, but exited with the slimmest of leads after taking both games from the Jays in a split doubleheader. In the opener, Andy Pettitte pitched five shutout innings in his first start since late June. In the nightcap, David Phelps pitched into the seventh inning, and Ichiro Suzuki knocked in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning single. It was a Wednesday to remember for Ichiro, who finished the day with seven hits and four stolen bases.

Orioles 3, Mariners 1 (11 innings): Yes, they did it again. Baltimore ran their winning streak in extra-inning games to 15, the second-longest skein in major-league history. Félix Hernández gave up just one run in eight innings, but Joe Saunders matched that feat exactly. The Mariners squandered great chances to score in both the 10th and 11th innings. In the top of the 11th, ex-Mariner Adam Jones touched Josh Kinney for a two-run homer. Jim Johnson pitched the bottom of the inning and picked up his MLB-leading 45th save. With the Yankees winning twice, though, the Orioles lost ground in the standings, falling just behind the Yankees. On the other hand, with the A's losing, the O's did take over atop the Wild Card standings.

A.L. Central W L
White Sox 81 67 -
Tigers 79 69 2

Royals 3, White Sox 0: The White Sox had ace Chris Sale on their side, but he was out-pitched by Bruce Chen and the Royals' bullpen, who surrendered nine hits without giving up any runs. The Royals' first run came in the third, on Billy Butler's sacrifice fly. And in the bottom of the seventh, with Sale still pitching, Alex Gordon drove home two more runs with his MLB-leading 49th double.

Tigers 6, Athletics 2: Rough night for the A's, who lost not only the game, but also starter Brett Anderson, who retired in the third inning with a strained oblique muscle. After losing Brandon McCarthy recently, the Athletics are ill-equipped to lose yet another starting pitcher; even if they do win one of the wild cards, which seems likely, they'll enter the postseason with a thin rotation. Wednesday, the A's did knock Justin Verlander out of the game after only six innings; the problem was that they didn't actually score any runs off Verlander. In fact, they wouldn't score until the top of the ninth, and two runs wasn't nearly enough. Detroit's Omar Infante drove in three runs with a double off Anderson, and Miguel Cabrera cracked his 41st home run of the season, leaving him just one short of the American League lead ... and in serious Triple Crown contention.

A.L. West W L
Rangers
88 60 -
Athletics
84 64 4

Rangers 6, Angels 2: Angels starter C.J. Wilson walked the bases loaded in the first inning and escaped, but wasn't so lucky in the third inning, and departed after giving up three innings. Reliever (and ex-starter) Jerome Williams stopped the bleeding long enough for the Angels to close to within a run of the Rangers, but another three-spot in the eighth -- Geovany Soto's two-run homer was the big blow -- sealed the deal. Derek Holland pitched into the seventh for Texas, and the bullpen took it from there.

A.L. Wild Card W L
Orioles
85 64 ½
Athletics 84 64 -
Angels 81 68
Tigers 79 69 5
Rays 79 70

Rays 13, Red Sox 3: Not that it matters much any more, but the Rays finally found their hitting shoes and tore up the Red Sox pitching staff for 15 hits, 10 walks and 13 runs. Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Peña both homered, with Peña reaching base five times to bust what must have felt like a season-long slump. Oddly, all five of the Red Sox' hits were collected by the first two batters in their lineup: Pedro Ciriaco (2) and Jacoby Ellsbury (3). Boston's first three pitchers in the game were Daisuke Matsuzaka, Alfredo Aceves, and Daniel Bard. Each of them gave up at least three runs, which probably says everything that need be said about the Red Sox' season.

Up next: Just one American League matinée, with the Tigers hosting the A's and going for the sweep. Later, the Blue Jays finish their series in New York, the White Sox their series in Kansas City, and the Rangers their series in Anaheim, while the Orioles get a welcome day off. That Rangers-Angels game, by the way, features a pretty interesting pitching match-up, with Yu Darvish facing Zack Greinke.

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