The Kansas City Royals, to the surprise of most, have managed to keep themselves in the AL Wild Card race. The team is still on the outside looking in and are running out of games to make up ground, but stranger things have happened.
To keep everyone up to date, I'm going to (attempt to) write a recap of the last night's game that had an impact on the Royals playoff chances until they reach the playoffs or are mathematically eliminated. These posts will also include today's games, and an updated Wild Card standings.
Red Sox 9, Yankees 8 (10): Greg Holland was not the only normally unflappable closer who was charged with a blown-save on Thursday. The Yankees held a one-run lead heading into the ninth inning, and Mariano Rivera recorded the first two outs of the ninth, bringing Mike Napoli to the plate. Napoli singled, and was replaced by Quintin Berry. Berry swiped second and scored on a Stephen Drew single, sending the game into extra innings.
Boston score the game-winning run in similar fashion in the tenth. Jacoby Ellsbury slapped a single, immediately stealing second base. Shane Victorino plated Ellsbury with a single, and Koji Uehara was able to close out the game.
Orioles 3, White Sox 1: Miguel Gonzalez shut down a hapless White Sox offense, only allowing one run and four hits over seven innings, striking out six while walking one. The right-hander also recorded 13 groundouts, forcing weak contact when he wasn't missing bats.
Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts provided the offense, each hitting a solo home run. Jones has had a really nice season offensively despite a 3.3% BB%, batting .295/.326/.511 with 30 homers, 31 doubles and 4.1 fWAR.
Astros 3, Athletics 2: Brad Peacock carried a shutout into the eighth inning, finishing the game surrendering two runs on five hits while striking out nine. Kevin Chapman is now with Houston, and pitched 2/3 of an inning to collect the all-important hold.
The Astros scored early, plating all three of their runs against Sonny Gray in the first two innings. A Yoenis Cespedes error in the second inning helped the Astros score their third run of the game, which proved critical.
Oakland entered Thursday tied with the Texas Rangers for first place in the AL West, but are now 1/2 game behind. It's unlikely that anyone catches the AL West loser for the first Wild Card spot, but I do want to keep track of their games to see who the Royals could potentially play.
Angels 6, Rays 2: Colin Cowgill smashed a bases clearing double in the second and Los Angeles added three more runs in the third off David Price to cruise to the easy victory. Jerome Williams picked up a quality start with 6 1/3 solid innings, giving up two runs on six hits while fanning seven.
Josh Hamilton went 2-for-4, raising his OBP to .299. The Angels still owe Hamilton $110 million over the next four seasons.
Friday's Probable Pitchers:
Red Sox vs Yankees 6:05 PM CT- Felix Doubront (3.89 ERA, 3.52 FIP) vs. Andy Pettitte (4.01 ERA, 3.77 FIP)
I'm amazed that Pettitte has been able to throw 150 respectable innings for New York this season. Doubront has been solid for Boston this year, one of the many contributors who have helped the Red Sox improve over last season.
White Sox vs. Orioles 6:05 PM CT- John Danks (4.35 ERA, 4.81 FIP) vs. Scott Feldman (3.75 ERA, 3.81 FIP)
The Orioles have the better pitcher on the mound and send out a much better lineup, so it seems unlikely that they lose on Friday. Chicago has paid Danks $14.75 million over the past two seasons, and received 1.0 fWAR from the southpaw.
It's September, Cleveland is still in the playoff hunt and Kazmir is still in their rotation. I would have never predicted all three of those circumstances at the beginning of the season. The Indians also brought a chicken onto the field during batting practice before Wednesday's game against the Detroit Tigers, because baseball players are strange.
Astros vs. Athletics 9:05 P.M. CT - Dallas Keuchel (4.77 ERA, 4.40 FIP) vs. A.J. Griffin (3.84 ERA, 4.74 FIP)
Griffin is a flyball pitcher with some home-run issues, which is never a good combination. Keuchel just isn't very good in any facet of pitching, like most of the Astros rotation.
Rangers vs. Angels 9:05 P.M. CT - Matt Garza (3.55 ERA, 3.87 FIP) vs. C.J. Wilson (3.35 ERA, 3.40 FIP)
Wilson has bounced back nicely this season, giving the Angels some actual value from a long-term contract. Texas has won seven straight against Los Angeles, matching their all-time longest streak.
Rays vs. Mariners 9:05 P.M. CT - Alex Cobb (2.82 ERA, 3.73 FIP) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma ( 2.92 ERA, 3.54 FIP)
Iwakuma should probably be getting more AL Rookie of the Year buzz, but he gets overlooked because he pitches for a struggling Mariners team. Iwakamua is very good,but the author of this post is apparently incapable of reading. He'll face a tough opponent in game, making this game a potential pitcher's duel that many with MLB.TV will flip to after the Royals game tonight.
Updated Wild Card Standings: