A.L. playoff races: Thursday-morning update

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A week ago, some teams seemed out of playoff contention and some races appeared almost over. That isn't the case after Wednesday's action.

AL East W L
Yankees 90 65 -
Orioles 89 67

One division's lead flip-flopped. Another got closer. A third is still in doubt, just a week before season's end. The AL contenders' results and possibilities, below...

Yankees 8, Twins 2: Any doubts about CC Sabathia's return from a minor injury or readiness for postseason play should be dispelled after his Wednesday performance at Target Field. Sabathia struck out 10 Twins and allowed just two runs in eight solid innings, throwing 118 pitches. The Bronx Bombers were just that against the Twins, blowing the game open early with a six-run third inning, during which Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson both drove in a pair of runs, Cano with a double, Granderson with a triple.

Orioles 12, Blue Jays 2: Baltimore wasn't going to be left behind in a display of power Wednesday; the O's tied a club record with seven home runs. Chris Davis and Manny Machado both homered twice, and Nate McLouth, Mark Reynolds and Jim Thome added one round-tripper each. For Thome it was his first home run since his return from the disabled list and eighth of the season; he now has 612 career homers. Baltimore stayed atop the wild-card standings, but also remained in contention for the AL East title, just 1½ games behind the Yankees with six games left (the Yankees have seven remaining).

AL Central W L
Tigers 83 72 -
White Sox 82 73 1

Tigers 5, Royals 4: Early in Wednesday's action, it looked as if the Tigers would fall to the Royals, who took a 4-1 lead on three straight doubles in the third inning and Jeff Francoeur's solo homer in the fourth. But Detroit fought back to a 4-4 tie thanks to a pair of homers, a solo shot from Austin Jackson and a two-run bomb from Alex Avila. In the bottom of the eighth, with one out and runners on first and third, Jhonny Peralta hit what appeared to be an inning-ending double-play ball. But the runner on first, Andy Dirks, broke up the double play with a hard slide and pinch-runner Don Kelly scored the lead run. Jose Valverde retired the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth for his 32nd save and Detroit's third straight win.

Indians 6, White Sox 4: Early in Wednesday's action, it looked as if the White Sox would run away with this game. They loaded the bases in the first inning with nobody out and scored three runs. But Cleveland fought back, pecking away at the Chicago lead, courtesy of 12 walks issued by White Sox pitchers. Vinny Rottino hit his first Cleveland home run in the eighth inning off Brett Myers to ice the Cleveland win, which knocked the Sox out of first place for the first time since July 23.

AL West W L
91 64 -
88 67 3

Athletics 9, Rangers 3: Texas' magic number to clinch the AL West remained at five for the second straight night as a 16-hit barrage from the visiting A's brought Oakland to within three games of first place. The A's roared out to a five-run first inning off Rangers starter Martin Perez, who didn't last the inning while giving up six hits, including triples by Yoenis Cespedes and Derek Norris. Jarrod Parker threw six good innings for the victorious visitors, allowing five hits and three runs.

AL Wild Card W L
89 67 ½
Athletics 88 67 -
Angels 86 69 2
Rays 85 70 3

Rays 4, Red Sox 2: Tampa Bay, apparently left in the dust of the AL wild-card race a week ago, posted their seventh consecutive win as they concluded a series sweep at Fenway Park. Carlos Pena and Ben Francisco homered to pace the victorious Rays, who also got five good innings from Alex Cobb, who gave up just one run. Five Rays relievers completed the win, with Fernando Rodney posting his 45th save.

Angels 4, Mariners 3: The Angels, also seemingly out of the playoff picture a week ago, now sport a five-game winning streak after a come-from-behind win over the visiting Mariners. Torii Hunter had a pair of singles, one tying the game in the seventh inning and the other a walk-off game-winner in the bottom of the ninth in front of 37,916 at Angels Stadium. After C.J. Wilson had given up three runs to the Mariners in 5⅓ innings, Jerome Williams, Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri shut down Seattle's offense almost completely, allowing them just one walk and no hits in 3⅔ innings of solid relief work.

Up next: The Rays move on to Chicago, where they'll face the White Sox in a four-game series beginning Thursday night that's critical for both teams. The Yankees also change opponents, heading to Toronto for a four-game set against the Blue Jays starting Thursday. These contenders -- Angels, Rangers, Athletics and Tigers -- conclude their current sets Thursday. The Orioles have Thursday off before opening a weekend series at home against the Red Sox Friday.

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