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Athletics magic number: 10, games to watch Thu. Sep. 18

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A look back at Wednesday's AL Wild Card scoreboard, and a look ahead to Thursday's action.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

I truly wish I was presenting you with a picture of #9, Reggie Jackson, right now. Adam Dunn will have to do, however, as the Seattle Mariners lost to the Los Angeles Angels last night to move the magic number to clinch a berth in the American League Wild Card Game from 11 to 10. The Angels clinched the AL West with the combination of their win and Oakland's terrible ninth-inning defeat on Wednesday night.

By virtue of their 2-5 record against Kansas City, the A's fall into the second Wild Card position, with the same 83-68 record as the Royals. It's a difficult time A's fans, and the only consolation is that no Wild Card team has grabbed the race by the horns to run away with it:

Here's the AL Wild Card board at the end of September 17:

W L GB 9/17
OAK
Magic Number
Head-to-head
W-L
Games remaining
WC1 KC 83 68 -- Win 12 2-5 3 vs. DET, 3+1 at CLE, 3 at CWS
WC2 OAK 83 68 -- Loss 1 vs. TEX, 3 vs. PHI, 3 vs. LAA, 4 at TEX
SEA 81 70 2.0 Loss 10 9-10 1 at LAA, 3 at HOU, 4 at TOR, 3 vs LAA
CLE 78 73 5.0 Win 7 4-2 1 at HOU, 3 at MIN, 3+1 vs KC, 3 vs TB
TOR 77 74 6.0 Loss 6 4-3 4 at NYY, 4 vs SEA, 3 vs BAL
NYY 77 74 6.0 Win 6 4-2 4 vs TOR, 4 vs BAL, 3 at BOS
TB 74 79 10.0 Win 1 4-2 3 vs CWS, 3 at BOS, 3 at CLE
Division Leaders
West LAA 94 57 Champ Win 8-8
East BAL 92 60 Champ Win 4-2
Central DET 84 68 +0.5 Loss 12 2-5 3 at KC, 3 vs CWS, 4 vs MIN

The "+1" between Kansas City and Cleveland denotes a suspended game to be resumed on September 22 with Kansas City batting in the bottom of the 10th inning trailing Cleveland 4-2.

Wednesday's recaps

In the AL Central, Kansas City won their game against Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox. The Detroit Tigers could not defeat the Minnesota Twins, and so their lead in the AL Central falls to just ½ game.

As for the rest, the Yankees and Indians picked up wins while the Blue Jays lost. Brandon McCarthy tossed an immaculate inning (three strikeouts in nine pitches) for the Yankees. Five or six down with 11 to play is a tall order, and the Yankees and Jays will play a four-game set that could put one, the other, or both away for good.

AL Wild Card Contenders

Orioles 6, Blue Jays 1

From Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter:

That wasn't fun.

We gave up three home runs, two by Steve Pearce, both off J.A. Happ and one by David Lough off Casey Janssen.

Happ went 6 innings, plus a batter, gave up 8 hits, 5 runs....he didn't walk anyone and struck out 5. He wasn't good, but then no one in a Jays uniform was.

AL Wild Card Contenders

Yankees 3, Rays 2

From Michael Brown of Pinstripe Alley:

It was just another excellent showing for McCarthy, who even capped off his night with an "Immaculate Inning". He set down the Rays on nine pitches and three strikeouts in the seventh. Can't do any better than that. He was relieved in the eighth by Dellin Betances, who achieved an even more amazing accomplishment by breaking Mariano Rivera's Yankees record for reliever strikeouts in a season with his whiff of Kevin Kiermaier. He actually got two that inning for good measure. That's numbers 131 and 132 on the year for the big Yankees phenom. David Robertson came in next in the ninth to wrap things up with a nice and tidy save.

Royals 6, White Sox 2

From Matthew LaMar of Royals Review:

Royals win 6-2. It's just that kind of season. But why? Why did this happen?

I think the answer is pretty clear: Chris Sale is terrified of dogs.

This game was host to Bark at the Park, an evening wherein the Kauffman Stadium faithful were invited to bring dogs to the ballpark because of their inherent capability for understanding baseball and discussing lineups at length with Ned Yost. There were many dogs at the park, though in a slight oversight there seems to be no official count of dogs in attendance. Most likely the stadium crew just thought there were visiting NFL fans from the increased amount of flailing limbs, bodily fluid, and loud barking at random events with little to no provocation.

Regardless, Sale was scared out of his mind. His dome was shattered. His brain was wrinkled.

Twins 8, Tigers 4

From Al Beaton of Bless You Boys:

In need of David Price (L, 14-12) pitching like an ace, he instead led the way in disappointing performances, knocked out of the game in the sixth having allowed five runs on eight hits, walking a season high tying three and striking out five.

Detroit's bullpen wasn't any better than Price, four relievers combining to give up three runs on five hits in just 2 1/3 innings.

AL Wild Card Contenders

Indians 2, Astros 0

From Phil Kehres of Let's Go Tribe:

On the heels of The Unfair One's phenomenal 14 strikeout performance, Cookie one-upped him. Since returning to the rotation August 10, Carlos Carrasco has been a revelation. Tonight, he pitched not only arguably the best game of any Indian this year, but easily the greatest game of his career.

Carrasco truly put the team on his back and ensured that the tiny glimmer of playoff hope is still alive.

Angels 5, Mariners 0

From Andrew Rice of Lookout Landing:

This was not a good night for the Mariners. It was a terrible, excruciating, karate-chop to the groin night for the Mariners. For the umpteenth time I feel obliged to remind everyone that today's game is "just one game". Seattle is two games back of Kansas City/Oakland for the two wild card spots. They are also just 2.5 games back of Detroit. There are 11 games remaining in the M's season. At this point, it still wouldn't be ridiculous for Seattle to make the playoffs; this remains a reality that is within reach. But that reality is quickly slipping away.

Thursday's games to watch

If you can bear to watch, the Athletics will try to avoid the sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers at 12:35 pm today. The 4 o'clock game features two teams who each probably need a sweep to have a prayer of factoring into the final week, the Blue Jays and Yankees. The five o'clock start features the Indians in their final game of the year at Minute Maid Park against the Houston Astros. Finally, at 7 o'clock, the Mariners and Angels play in the Angels hangover game, with Felix Hernandez facing off against Jered Weaver.

The Royals and Tigers stand idle today ahead of their final three-game set against each other at Kauffman Stadium.

Time (PT) Starting Pitcher Notes
12:35  PM Rangers Nick Martinez (3-11, 4.93)
Athletics Sonny Gray (13-8, 3.18)
4:05 PM Blue Jays R.A. Dickey (13-12, 3.84) M# vs. TOR = 6
Yankees Shane Greene (5-3, 3.56) M# vs. NYY = 6
5:10 PM Indians Danny Salazar (6-7, 4.22) M# vs. CLE = 7
Astros Scott Feldman (8-11, 3.95)
7:05 PM Mariners Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.14) M# vs. SEA = 10
Angels Jered Weaver (17-8, 3.50)
Idle Royals M# vs. KC = 12
Idle Tigers M# vs. DET = 12